Whisper Creek Golf Course

By Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

HUNTLEY, Ill. - Whisper Creek Golf Course is located in the Del Webb's Sun City retirement community but it is anything but a "leisurely" stroll.

Whisper Creek lies on 240 square acres of land that is dotted with beautiful homes and landscape. The first thing that a visitor will notice at Whisper Creek is the well-trimmed landscape and the beautiful homes that line the fairways and dot the grounds. These homes act as eye candy with huge gorgeous balconies and patios that look upon the course.

The grounds make each visitor feel as if they are the country club elite. From the bag attendants that insist on taking golf bags from cars, to the smoothness of the typical checking in and warming up process, every golfer is treated as Whisper Creek's only client of the day.

In the clean electric golf carts, players receive a very well designed course booklet that details every hole with colorful graphics and concise measurements. Also in the cart are little extras including tees and peanuts. The carts also feature a GPS system that gives golfers measurements from ball to pin, course management tools and the ability to communicate with the clubhouse and halfway house.

Whisper Creek was designed and built by Hall-of-Fame player Billy Casper and architect Greg Nash. The two used the 240 acres as their canvas to paint one of the coolest golf courses in the area. The well-kept bent grass and fescue lined rough is the first layer of the course. The next is intriguing rock formations, waterfalls and dramatic bunkers filled with unusually soft white sand.

Every skill set is well represented with four tee boxes. Besides the difference in length, the tee boxes (oak, pine birch and willow) are set to take certain hazards out of play on the easier tee placements, while golfers playing back tees will see a much more formidable challenge.

Whisper Creek's log cabin clubhouse acts as the focal point of the facility. A well-rounded proshop and the locker room is a fine place for groups to prepare for a round of golf, while the restaurant and lodge is a great location to trade stories and grab a bit to eat.

The golf course measures 7,100 yards with the main focus being on bending golfers without breaking them. Three of the first four holes are par-4s measuring well over 400 yards from the back tees. These holes, like most of the holes on the course, have well-placed fairway bunkers and hazards. These par-4s include a dogleg to the right and left and two straight away holes that give players a chance to warm up the driver with three different tee shots.

The last five holes on the front side feature the two front-side par-3s and two par fives. Three of the five holes have water that come into play. Of this challenging stretch of golf, the best hole on the front side, and maybe the course, is the par-5 ninth.

The awe inspiring waterfalls and rock formations, along with the clubhouse in the backdrop, make this par-5 one of the most intriguing, if not one of the toughest in the area. Measuring 527 yards from the back tees, this hole has water that comes into play on both fairway shots. The hazard comes into play at 310 yards, so a fairway wood is the club of choice off the tee. The second shot is the most compelling shot on the golf course. Players who are thinking of getting home in two are faced with what looks like a sea to the green. But with water cutting into the left side of the putting surface, even playing for a short third shot has a chance on getting wet. Staying dry and having a chance for par is quit a feat on this front side finishing hole.

The backside changes focus a bit with not as much water. But golfers shouldn't let that fool them into thinking that this side is any easier. Casper and Nash used well-placed bunkers throughout fairways to add to the challenge. Another aspect that comes into play a bit more on this side is the use of undulating terrain and creative pin placements.

One of these innocent looking holes is the par-4 14th. On paper it is a straightforward 420-yard slight dogleg to the left. The first obstacle is the tee box itself. Facing directly toward the right deep rough, golfers will have a tough time adjusting and pointing their drives down the middle of the fairway.

Solid drives will end up on a ridge in the center of the fairway, making the mid-to-long iron approach a tough task. The second shot is even more daunting of a task with a trio of left side bunkers protecting the pin. Two ridges, one in the front and one in the back of this narrow green, makes this hole a legitimate two-shot, two-putt par four.

The last four holes on this side feature the longest par-3 and par-5 on the course and two challenging par-4s. This non-relenting feature of the course makes Whisper Creek one of the finest tracks in the area.

The final hole on the course is a 403-yard par-4. With the fairway bending to the left, golfers face a large pond through the right side of the fairway. If golfers can stay in the center of the hole, the last shot of the day is one of the funniest on the course. Water on the left and a huge bunker on the right of the small green give players a daunting task when trying to earn a score. Going long on this hole also gets wet as Nash and Casper give their water hazards an encore performance.

If the surroundings aren't qualifying enough for golfers, the list of events played at Whisper Creek sure should be. Along with being a host of the Illinois Open Qualifier, the course is home to the Illinois PGA Pro-Senior Championship and the Prairie State Amateur Championship.

Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

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