Country Lakes is No Walk in the Park
Naperville, Il -- Every now and then, it is a great change of pace to seek out a fun golf course instead of one that is challenging. A friend, Dan Delaney, and I did just that a few weeks ago on a beautiful Friday morning.
We found a course 45 minutes directly west of the Loop in Naperville called Country Lakes Golf Club. During the trip to the golf course, we decided to play from the tips and take absolutely no mulligans so that we had a true assessment of how our games matched up with the links.
We got to Country Lakes a little late but were not rushed by any of the starters or attendants in the pro shop. They showed us to our cart and even pointed the way to the first tee and practice green. The scorecard placed neatly inside the cart read 6,875 yards for the back tees and diagrammed 11 of the 18 holes on the course as having water.
On the first tee, my partner pointed out a harsh reality, half of the holes were over 400 yards. This being said, we both agreed that if the drivers were cold, most golfers would have a tough time scoring at Country Lakes.
The first hole was a tremendous starting hole, a 486-yard dogleg left par-5. A fine hole because it demanded us to walk the talk and take out our drivers and swing away if we wanted to birdie and get off to a great start. We stretched, took a couple of hard practiced swings and swung away, hitting beautiful drives down the right side of the fairway, or so we thought.
Apparently, the tree-lined fairway ends quickly at the bend, which put both of our well-struck tee shots in the rough. We took short irons and put our second shots within 120 yards of the small, elevated green. On our third shots, Delaney put his 15 feet next to the cup while mine didn't hold, running off the green. After a good chip back over the flagstick, I still had a 20-foot putt to make par. After I made and he missed, we both walked away with pars while learning a valuable lesson about Country Side.
The lesson is, you drive for show and putt for dough. Or, better said, to score well at Country Side, you must be prepared to play well around the greens and take advantage of every birdie and par opportunity.
Our favorite hole on the front side was number five, a 489-yard par-5. Both of us swung away with three woods and landed in the fairway at about 245 yards from the tee. The surprise came when my ball was on a tough downhill slope and my playing partner was positioned well on a flat surface, twenty feet from me. With a tail wind and bunkers surrounding the front of the narrow green, we had a tough decision to make, to lay up or go for it.
I proceeded hit an easy 5-iron 70 yards to the green while Delaney hit another tremendous three wood that found the right trap. With birdie in mind, I proceeded to land my sand iron 12 feet below the hole on the two-tiered green sloping sharply uphill. Out of the sand, Delaney went over the green and ended up double bogeying while I sank my birdie putt.
The second valuable lesson of Country Side was learned on five: picking and choosing where to play conservative is half the battle. Players will face serious consequences if they make bad judgments and couple them with bad shots, as Delaney proved.
The best stretch of golf at Country Lakes is the 12th through the 14th holes. The 12th is a 400-yard dogleg left asking golfers to hit drives 200 yards plus down the left side of the fairway. The next shot after the bend is where we found the hole gets tricky. Water works itself next to the right side of the green, behind the putting surface and down the left side of the fairway. A big oak tree over-hangs on the right side near the green, making any approach shot in the right rough a bear of a shot. We both proceeded to hit soft irons that hit before the green and took a direct bounce right into the water. We both chipped up to this slick wide green and two putted, walking away shaking our heads.
The 13th is the shortest par-3 from the back tees on the course, measuring 174 yards. With a huge soft bunker on the right side of the green, and water, wasteland and another over-hanging tree to the left, the large putting surface appears much smaller on the tee. If you can keep the ball below the hole, it should be a place to make up for the missed opportunity on the 12th hole.
The 14th hole is another long par-4, measuring 403 yards. This dogleg right, with the widest part of the hole on the bend at about 220 yards for the tee, also has water down the left side of the fairway. Any ball hooked would be wet while any ball sliced would be met by out of bounds and trees. I knocked my drive down the right side right at the bend. With a huge mound and trees in front of me, I had a blind second shot to a small elevated green. I went for it with a mid-iron and dumped it into the bunker protecting the right side of the green for any players like myself trying to make this hole a little shorter.
We both ended the stretch well over par and frustrated, but with a better understanding of Country Lakes Golf Club. To play well at this course, it is key to have a well-rounded game with a long driver in your bag as well as plenty of short game. The other major key to playing well the first time around the track is to make quick decisions in conjunction with what is working in your bag and what is not.
The day ended with a great sandwich and a cold beer in the clubhouse lodge. Also included in the huge clubhouse building were locker rooms to change into golf attire and a large banquet facility that would be great for group outings. The only drawback is the fact that there were hardly any practice facilities. All in all, the day was well spent at a relatively inexpensive, but challenging course.
Country Lakes Golf Club
1601 Fairway Drive
Naperville , IL
Phone: (630) 420-1060