Schaumburg Golf Club is a muni near Chicago that lives up to the hype

By Dave Berner, Senior Contributor

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. -- The 13th hole on the Baer Course, one of the three nines at Schaumburg Golf Club, is a superb, short par 4. But put that aside for a moment and instead consider this 335-yard hole with the slightly elevated tee and dangerously designed bunkers as a symbol of what is amazing about this facility in one of Chicago's most populated suburbs.

Schaumburg Golf Club - Tournament Course - no. 1
The Tournament Course is considered the most difficult at Schaumburg G.C.
Schaumburg Golf Club - Tournament Course - no. 1Schaumburg Golf Club - Baer Course - hole 16Schaumburg Golf Club - Tournament Course - hole 8
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Schaumburg Golf Club - Tournament/Baer Course

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Schaumburg Golf Club is a 27-hole course that is divided into three nines: the Tournament, Baer, and Players. The Tournament/Baer combination features plenty of water on the front nine, while the back nine is more forgiving but still dotted with strategically placed bunkers.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 72 | 6644 yards | Book online | ... details »

Schaumburg Golf Club - Players/Baer Course

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The 27-hole course at Schaumburg Golf Club is divided into three nines that are played in different 18-hole combinations. Schaumburg's Players/Baer combination starts out with a few tricky carries over water on the front nine and a more forgiving back nine.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 71 | 6603 yards | Book online | ... details »

Schaumburg Golf Club - Tournament/Players Course

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Schaumburg Golf Club is a 27-hole layout that has hosted the U.S. Open Qualifying and Illinois Open Qualifying tournaments as well as numerous other events since it first opened in 1928. The Tournament/Players course features the most water of the three combinations.

18 Holes | Public golf course | Par: 71 | 6435 yards | Book online | ... details »

To the left of the green is a large pear-shaped bunker and inside the trap is a member of the greenskeeping crew, meticulously manicuring the inner footage of the bunker with a small hand rake, the kind one might use to gather leaves in the backyard in the fall. He's delicately edging the outer rim, making painstaking strokes, like a Hollywood make-up artist shaping the hair of a movie starlet.

"I hope someone is telling you how good a job you're doing?" he's asked.

"Yes, they are," he says, smiling. "Everyday."

It's good to know he's getting that recognition because he and his colleagues maintain arguably one of the best-conditioned golf courses in the Chicago area. And we're not just talking about public layouts.

Not only are Schaumburg Golf Club's bunkers artistically cared for, but also the bentgrass fairways are splendidly manicured. What really stands out, however, are profoundly memorable greens. If you miss a putt, you can't blame the putting surfaces. They run as true as "sun to day" as Shakespeare once wrote.

"I think they're running a little slow right now," Schaumburg Head Professional Jonathan Parsons says. "They were just about perfect when the qualifiers were here." The course hosted a U.S. Open qualifying round in 2012. "Still, these greens are pretty special," Parsons says.

Parsons says the 27-hole facility is an oasis in this busy Chicago suburb, a community known more for its shopping than its golf. Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall is the ninth-largest shopping center in the United States and a huge attraction. But just up the street a few miles, surrounded by a black iron gate, is a sanctuary, another kind of attraction for those carrying a golf bag loaded with clubs rather than a wallet filled with credit cards.

Schaumburg Golf Club: The course

Schaumburg was built in 1928, purchased by the park district in 1989 and renovated by golf architect Bob Lohmann.

"It's fair. Everything's in front of you," says Parsons. "But again, it's the greens that are the course's defense."

The three nine-hole layouts -- Players, Baer and Tournament -- are numbered consecutively, so don't get confused when you see a sign on the tee box that reads: Hole 23. And because the management flips around the use of the nines, the numbering can be puzzling. Still, getting a little lost about what number hole you're playing is a minor issue when you're spending the day on a highly playable golf course.

Eighteen holes from the blue tees measure out between 6,500-6,700 yards, depending on the routing of the nines. The Tournament Course is considered to be the most difficult. It's a bit longer and the green complexes are more undulating. The opening hole on the Tournament is tremendous experience. The tee for the 555-yard par 5 is significantly elevated from the fairway and gives the player a view of the dogleg left. The fairway dips down and then back up, creating a beautiful vista.

The sixth hole on the Players Course is the one most fear. The 440-yard par 4 requires an accurate drive to avoid the trees and then forces the player to make a decision: hit a long iron or a fairway wood into the small, heavily protected green sitting behind a pond, or lay-up to the flat before the water and rely on a solid short game.

"It's probably the toughest hole for most players," Parsons says. "It's quite a stretch through there because two holes later you have a 221-yard par 3 to deal with."

Most of the holes, however, are quite manageable for the average player. A good example is the Baer Course's ninth hole, a longish par 4 from the blues (443 yards) but very playable from the whites (373 yards). It still presents a good challenge, demanding an accurate drive and a precise approach through a narrow entrance to the green.

Schaumburg Golf Club: The facilities

Schaumburg G.C. has two practice putting greens and a full-swing range with grass and mat tees. Plus, it's just a few steps away from the first tee of any of the three nines and a chip shot away from the pro shop. The restaurant in the clubhouse is Chandler's Chophouse, a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and frequented by golfers and folks from the neighborhood. There's a full bar and an outside patio. The word on the street is to order the broasted fried chicken.

Schaumburg Golf Club: The verdict

There was a time when municipal golf courses rarely lived up to their own publicity. Over the years, that has changed. And there may be no better example of this transformation than Schaumburg Golf Club. The price is reasonable, the atmosphere is welcoming and the golf is fair yet challenging.

"Our facility represents the largest open space in Schaumburg," Parsons says. "When you're out here, you're completely away from this bustling suburb and immersed in golf."

Dave BernerDave Berner, Senior Contributor

Dave Berner is a long-time journalist for CBS radio in Chicago and has freelanced for CNN, National Public Radio, and ABC news. He created and produced the popular radio feature "The Golf Minute" for CBS-owned radio station WMAQ in Chicago along with writing a regular column for Golf Chicago Magazine. He is also author of "Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons" and "Accidental Lessons: A Memoir of a Rookie Teacher and a Life Renewed." Follow Berner on Twitter @DavidWBerner

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