Aspen Ridge Golf Course: A Pleasant Surprise Near Chicago

By Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

Bourbonnais, IL - The family owned Aspen Ridge Golf Course is located about an hour southeast of O'Hare and an hour south of the city in the town of Bourbonnais. The golf course, which opened in July of 1998, is in the infancy of its existence.

The links layout works well with the newness of the course. With the trees no taller than 6 feet, the challenge of the course is already built in and does not depend on their growth. The moguls and hills are the main obstacles, while water comes into play on six holes.

The course is short, measuring a little less than 5,800 yards from the middle tees and 6,100 yards from the back tees. A par-70 with one short par five and three very difficult par threes, the course is perfect for the average golfer who does not have a mammoth drive.

The holes are straight. Most tee shots look down wide fairways that tend to award well placed drives but not necessarily penalize for badly struck shots. All obstacles off the tee are in plain view and can be avoided by most golfers. In the fairway, golfers have the option of running their approach up to the green or going for the stick.

The greens are large and undulating and flow uphill away from the approach shots, making it easy to score well if consistently under the pin placements. Most of the greens are elevated making it tough to get up and down from behind the putting surface.

At the start of the round at Aspen Ridge, golfers are asked to be straight off the tee and solid on approach shots. The course begins with five par 4s, all playing between 350 and 380 yards. With well placed moguls and slopes and well-protected greens, players cannot afford to be wild and short. Every green is large in this group of holes, as putts tend to be slow.

The sixth hole is the first par 5. A 462 yard light dogleg right, players will automatically think about going for it in two. The drive needs to be down the right side in which a large set of young trees protects the fairway.

After a well-struck drive, the next shot is an uphill long iron to get home in two. A pair of large traps protects the green on both sides, giving the player with a solid sand game something to shoot for on the second shot. The green slopes vigorously toward the fairway making it mandatory to be below the hole in regulation for birdies.

The seventh is an easy par 4 measuring close to 320 yards. Without any obstacles in the way, except a bunker hidden in the back left of the large green, this is a great place for golfers to make up a stroke or two. The par 3 eighth is a water-haters nightmare. This 150 yard hole has a large landing area in front of the green.

The water hazard extends 100 yards off the tee. Since the hole is not all carry and a large green awaits good short irons, there is no reason not to walk away with at least a bogie or an even par.

The last hole on the front side is one of the most intriguing on the course. A short par four asks the golfer to hit a long iron off the tee as water comes into play with any drive over 220 yards.

A tiny green waits with water protecting its front and left side of the green. A bunker on the front right gives any golfer something else to think about as he/she hit a approach shot.

The back side is similar to the front as it opens with three short par 4s. These holes again ask the player for straight tee shots and good short iron play. The course gets easier from there with a couple of par 3s and a short par 4. The last of the par 3s offers one of the toughest shots on the course.

After a barrage of non-challenging holes, the player will walk up to the 15th in awe. An all-carry short iron is in store to hit into this green that is well protected by water in front. The green sits above the tee on a ridge, making it real tough to get up and down from right off the putting surface. Like the rest of the greens, this one is slow and easy to read, rewarding good tee shots.

The last three holes on the course are its toughest group. Three long Par 4s wait to make a good round of golf into a bad one. The 18th has water down the right side that will catch most drives that are sliced.

A well-bunker green waits for the last approach shot of the round. If it has been a tough day on the links, the last four holes will be a struggle.

The upkeep of the course is good but battles the unchallenging terrain of the very young course. Certain places in key areas of the course are lacking. One feature of the course that is impressive is the actual turf.

The blend has a tendency to make the ball sit up in the fairway. This makes it a true reward to hit straight drives and makes ball striking easier for the average golfer. The turf blend also allows for a quick return from heavy rain and provides better protection from the hot, dry Chicago summers.

Plenty of amenities allow the golfer to enjoy themselves at Aspen Ridge Golf Course without paying an arm and a leg. The kitchen in the clubhouse has plenty of choices with beer, soda, and snacks.

A grass practice range, which is rare anywhere near the city, provides golfers with a quiet area to practice. The green fees are perfectly priced for the course.

Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

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