Illinois comes with many opportunities for golf lovers to play some incredible public courses, most of them having a fantastic private feel. Loyal to the Prairie State, golf courses here offer some great variety, mixing wetlands, meadows, forests and lakes, all of them with great elevation changes and beautiful landscapes as background.
Here are our top-ten list of public courses in the state of Illinois. Check it and let us know your thoughts!
Best Golf Courses in Illinois
The Dubsdread course in Cog Hill offers one of the best opportunities for any golf lover to experience an authentic PGA course feel while being on a public ground. Proof of this are the 9 Western Open it hosted until 2007!
The design was made by the combination of two great architects, Joe Lee and Dick Wilson, who made sure of crafting a track which featured some accuracy shot opportunities, rolling and undulating greens and a great number of bunkers, all of them preserving the natural beauty of the terrain of the beautiful Des Plaines River Valley, in Lemont, located in the suburbs of Chicago. The course opened in 1964, however, in 2008 it was renovated by the renowned architect Rees Jones, in order to update every hole to the current technologies and advances in golf. (Top 100 Golf Courses, s.f.)
One way of describing this course could be tough, but fair. It also has some long par 3s, all of them passing the 200 yards. Check out the 14th with that island green surrounded by bunkers! However, the signature hole for us is the 16th: a downhill par 4 including a dogleg to the left which plays to an elevated green.
Facilities at Dubsdread are everything you can expect from a top championship golf course. A huge clubhouse with locker rooms, the Dub Pub Lounge and a fine restaurant; practice facilities including a chipping area, a secluded driving range and a putting green; and a full-stocked pro shop to be able to get the latest golf accessories.
The green fees are not cheap, however. This course, as the best one from the four at Cog Hill, it also has the higher rates: from $100 to $155.
Only 30 minutes from the city of Chicago we can find this gem, designed by Tom Fazio. It mixes perfectly well bunkers, water hazards and trees, all of them with great elevated areas that allow the player to appreciate the beauty of the scenery.
The course conditions here are great: fast-rolling greens and well-groomed fairways are consistent throughout the whole course. Apart from this, the cart paths are well-hidden, what gives more magic to the course, making you feel surrounded by nature!
The holes here offer a great variety, which makes the round really fun to play. While many of the par 5s tee shots can be intimidating, they offer a great deal of opportunities to score, risk-reward decision making and some accuracy shots that will test the most skilful players.
Plenty of signature holes here. In terms of challenge, we can stay with the 8th: a par 4 that require a great deal of accuracy in order to evade the stream and the lake on the left side of the hole. On the right, some huge bunkers will wait for you if going too conservative to the right. Your tee shot will be deciding! If we look at the scenery, one of the greatest holes is the finishing one: a long par 5 with two water hazards on its right and left side, and with great views to the clubhouse.
Green fees are also expensive here, although they can vary hugely depending on the season. Normally they range from $100 to almost $200 on peak season.
This fantastic course is host of the PGA’s John Deere Classic since the year 2000, and it is located in the city of Silvis, in the western border of Illinois, touching the Mississippi Rivers which separates this State with Iowa.
Designed by D.A. Weibring, the course is a total fun for any golf lover. While some of its holes have some parkland style, some others can make you feel an absolute links style, more open and windy. Multiple creeks, water hazards and elevation changes give also a great variety to the course.
About the layout, it is in great condition, as any other course where the tour is played. Fairways are wide and generous, however, very punishing when missing them. Greens are fast and rolling, and make you really feel the difficulty and the accuracy needed to actually score for professionals.
Its rates are more affordable than the previous courses, with a peak rate of $100. However, it has some interesting discounts for low seasons and twilight rounds. Overall, a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a PGA course for an affordable price!
The Eagle Rigde Resort & Spa is located in Galena, a city in the north-western side of Illinois. Here we can find four fine golf courses: The General, the South Course, the North Course and the East Course. From the four of them, the best one is the General.
Opened in 1997, this course was designed by Roger Packard and Andy North, and offers splendid elevation changes that allow the player to enjoy some spectacular views, something you already experience from the first tee.
The signature hole here is the 14th: a par 4 with a dramatic elevation change of 180 feet to the green, which sums up the high difficulty of this course. However, it counts with 4 sets of tees to make it available to less skilled players. (Dan Perry, s.f.)
Apart from golf, here you can find tons of other activities to enjoy: horseback riding, hiking, spa services, weddings and events organisation
Located in the city of Peoria, this course is regarded as many as the best one in central Illinois. With a fantastic condition and affordable rates (oscillating from $60 to $75), this is a must play for anyone passing by this side of the Prairie State.
Designed by Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry in 1997, they did a great job crafting a masterful course without damaging the natural surroundings.
Best holes may be the 5th and the 12th. The former is a par 4 which plays along the lake to a green well protected by bunkers; while the latter is an astonishing par 3 which plays downhill to a secluded green protected by a couple of bunkers. (WeaverRidge Website, s.f.)
This facility counts also with a great clubhouse with restaurant, a pro shop and private rooms for organising any kind of event.
This course is located in Aurora, in the outskirts of Chicago, and was created 1993 by Ken Kavanaugh. This beautiful 18-hole course mixes wetlands, lakes, creeks, waterfalls and bunkers in a fantastic way, offering a natural and chilling experience for an affordable price, which ranges from $50 to $80 depending on the weekday.
This scenic track has some interesting holes, and the signature is considered to be the 12th, a par 3 with a waterfall and a great panoramic view. However, the other par 3s can perfectly be at the same level. (Windy City Golf, 2013)
Some other interesting feature of this course is the pro shop it has, which has been ranked as one of the top 100 golf pro shops in the U.S. (Two Guys Who Golf, s.f.)It also has some fantastic practice facilities which include a driving range, chipping area and putting green.
Cantigny counts with three 9-hole courses located in Wheaton, in the county of DuPage, only one hour from Chicago. From them, the combination of the Woodside and the Lakeside courses offers a great 18-hole layout through lots of oaks and hardwood trees. 12 lakes, 70 bunkers and two creeks, apart from thousands of flowers, complete this fantastic course designed by Roger Packard in 1989.
The course conditions are the best ones you are going to find in any public course: perfectly maintained bunkers, smooth greens and well-groomed fairways stand out throughout the whole track. About the holes, from the Woodside has some fantastic ones: the par 3 3rd, the par 3 8th or the par 4 9th play with water and are some fun ones. From the Lakeside, check the great closing hole, a par 4 playing to a peninsula green surrounded by water. (Cantigny Golf Website, s.f.)
The course also counts with some first class practice facilities, with a big putting green, short game area and a range, where you can have some lessons from the Cantigny Golf Academy.
With a green fee of approximately $100, this course is absolutely worth every penny. A hidden gem of Illinois!
Thunderhawk is located in the north city of Beach Park, between the cities of Milwaukee and Chicago. It has the design signature of Robert Trent Jones, Jr, who made sure of preserving the natural terrain the best way he could, creating a track which mixes some woods, prairie and marshland.
The course offers an enjoyable and fair round to everybody, mixing some challenging holes with some others more forgiving. It counts with wide and generous fairways, but also with some blind shots that will make it more difficult to land the ball in them from the tee box.
It has some of the best par 5s you can find in Illinois, such as the 16th and 18th. From the par 3s, our pick is the 6th, playing with water to a large green protected by some bunkers.
Rates here are quite cheap (from $50 to $90), offering a fantastic golf experience, enjoyable for players of all levels.
Opening for play back in 1971, and designed by Keith R. Foster, this course was first a 9-hole facility. It was not until 2003 that the other 9 were added, making this layout a fantastic 18-hole golf track.
The course is a links style one, with 90 bunkers coming into play, prairies, wide fairways and large and undulated greens. However, the newest nine holes play through an old quarry, offering some great natural elevation changes.
The signature hole, the 7th: a par 3 from an elevated tee where you can enjoy some spectacular views of the quarry and the clubhouse.
The rates here are the cheapest from the list, with a maximum of approximately $55 per round. An absolute must play if you are around Elgin!
Operated by the same owners than the courses at Cog hill, this course is located in Mundelein, one hour from both cities of Chicago and Milwaukee. While not being the cheapest (it costs around $100 per round), its conditions are top-notch and it presents itself as another great option for golfing in Illinois.
Check out the back nine, which counts with the best holes of the whole layout. From 12th to 18th hole you can enjoy some great par 3s, such as the 12th, and a memorable finish to the round, with a pond coming into play and some huge bunkers to ad up some challenge.
Apart from the course, Pine Meadow includes a clubhouse with a pro shop and a restaurant, located in front of the practice putting green. Practice facilities also include a driving range and a short gamer area with a bunker to warm up before the round.
These ten courses are only some of the multiple options available in Illinois. While some of them are better than others, all offer a great quality which make them worth the value. Choose yours and let us know about the experience!