Pine Meadow Golf Club: A Must-Play for the Traveling Golfer

By Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

Mundelein, Ill. - Pine Meadow Golf Club is a perennial favorite among the golf community in the Chicagoland area. Located about an hour northwest of O'Hare airport and about an hour and a half from downtown Chicago in Mundelein, Pine Meadows is one of the fairest tests of golf in the area.

Designed by Joe Lee and Rockey Roquemore, the course lies on 230 acres of preserved wildlife land, 100 acres more than the typical American course sits on, giving the golfer an isolated feel during the round. Every one of the holes is an island unto itself, making it impossible to view other holes. With very few views of the outside world, it is an ideal place to "get lost" in the game of golf.

Another great feature of this traditionally designed course is that the golfer is able to see every hazard and obstacle. On the tees they are able to see the entire hole. At least 90 percent of each green is viewable on approach shots. The greens are slick but fair with all undulations easy to read and straight forward.

Pine Meadow offers five sets of tees for every skill level. From the tips, the golf course is a long 7,200 yards. But at this length, the course still plays into wide fairways and large landing areas. The regulation tees play at close to 6,500 yards, giving most golfers with a solid drive a chance to be on or close to the greens in regulation.

The shortest the course plays is 5,200 yards, giving the short hitter a chance to play par or bogey golf on every hole.

The course opens with two par-5s and a long par-4 in the first four holes, making it a tough place to go from car to tee. Not to get discouraged, the average golfer should either use the practice tees or be extremely patient in the first hour of golf. But once again, Pine Meadows is a fair course and lets its guard down a bit on the next five holes.

The fifth hole is a par-3 with a huge green and a large landing area for the short shot. Two deep bunkers protect the green but if hit in regulation, it is an easy par.

Holes six and seven are long, straight par-4s with well-protected greens. If the drives on each are wayward it is still not out of the question to get a bogey or, with good approach shots, par. The last two holes on the front side consist of the second easiest hole on the course in a short par-3 and a tiny, tricky par-4. If the golfer survives the first half of the front side and stays out of trouble off the tee, there is no reason not to score adequately going out.

Course management should be a priority on the back, even for great players. Six of the seven holes that are not par-3s have water that comes into play. Both par-5s put water into play on a well-struck tee shot. But like the rest of the course, the holes are fair in length and offer plenty of options to keep out of trouble.

The first two holes on the back side are short par-4s. The tenth hole has water down the left side that comes into play if the pin is cut front and left. It is one of the tougher approach shots on the course, letting the player know that there will not be any letup on the back side. On the next tee, golfers have water in front of them and to the left. If the drive avoids trouble it is smooth sailing.

The 12th hole is an easy par-3 that gives the player a breather before the toughest stretch on the course begins. The 13th is a classic risk versus reward hole with a creek cutting through the par-5 at about 275 yards off the tee. But with the hole measuring only 502 yards, there is always the temptation of trying to get home in two. Plenty of bailout room is in front of the green along with a large landing area for lay-up shots offering the golfer plenty of options for par or birdie.

The 14th and 15th both ask the golfer to be accurate off the tee. The 14th is a short dogleg to the right with water down the right side while the 15th is a long dogleg to the left. Both greens are well bunkered and both putting surfaces are slick.

Pine Meadow really shows how fair it is by letting its guard down on the next two holes with a short par-4 and a simple par-3. Like the rest of the course, players can feel the ebb and flow of difficulty of the layout. Stretches of challenging holes are grouped with stretches of easy holes, never allowing the golfer to get too comfortable or be too discouraged.

The 18th is the signature hole that can make or break a good round. A 405 yard par 4 with water to the right calls for a drive placed left-center of the fairway. A mid to short iron is in store for the approach with water protecting the right front of the putting surface. A large bailout area to the left can hold many long irons and still give the golfer a chance for par. A bunker in the back makes players pay for their fear of the water.

Besides a well-groomed golf course, Pine Meadow offers some great amenities. Along with a well stocked pro shop, the clubhouse bar and grill has some of the best finger food in the area. The lighted driving range has 60 grass practice tees along with a chipping and putting area. The seven professionals on the premises offer private lessons and clinics for every skill level. Tee times, which can be made 120 days in advance, are highly recommended.

The renowned Jemsek family, who also run the famed Cog Hill Golf and Country Club and St. Andrew Golf Club both in the Chicagoland area, maintains Pine Meadow Golf Club. Like the rest, this facility is well groomed and manicured with excellent service, making it a must play for the traveling golfer.

Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

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