Chicago is home of the golf dome

By Dave Berner, Senior Contributor

CHICAGO - Legend has it, Chicago's Al Capone loved the game of golf so much he'd play it even when Chi-town's wicked wind would howl its way through a bitter early winter's day. If big Al was around today, he likely would be spending his leisure off-season moments safely indoors, but still playing an outside game, at one of more than a dozen golf domes in the Chicago area.

Over the last several years, Chicago and its suburbs, have become the homes of the domes. Big ones, small ones, permanent ones, temporary ones, ones with golf simulators, ones with sand-filled bunkers, ones with putting greens, ones with golf leagues and snacks and refreshments and reserved tee times and each of them busier than a gangster-era speakeasy. In the off-season, finding a little green mat to hit from can be as tough as getting a Saturday tee time in July at one the area's top public courses.

Of course, Capone wouldn't have had that problem. His name, his reputation, his violin-case-carrying entourage would be sure Al got to play -- inside or out. For those of us not so notorious, it's not that easy. But knowing where to find the best of the domes and the best times to visit them does help when even a brutal Chicago winter simply can't put the chill on the hottest of itches to crush a bucket of red-striped range balls.

White Pines Golf Dome

"You hit that one. Keep doing that," said the man sitting in on the plastic lawn chair about five yards behind the hitting bay.

"Oh, that was sweet," he added with encouragement after his buddy knocked out another shot.

You hear this a lot at the White Pines Golf Dome. Groups of guys, young and old, get together at regular times to bang some balls, cheer each other on, wager on a few shots, and fill in the holes left by the courses closed for the season. It's not quite real golf, but it's pretty darn close, and the camaraderie comes outdoors or in.

White Pines is one of the biggest domes in the Chicago area. It's 300-feet wide, 300-feet long, and 100-feet high. There are three large target greens, a 50-foot long putting green, six suspended hitting targets (one with a bullseye) and 50 tees on two levels. There's also a virtual golf simulator where you can play some of the world's coolest courses. This place is also super clean, super comfortable (a constant 64-degrees) and super busy. You'll find the best time to get the bay you want with little waiting is weekday mornings. Weekends are packed.

White Pines Golf Dome
500 West Jefferson (White Pines Golf Course)
Bensenville, Illinois.
(630) 766-0304
Fees: Range balls - $6-$10/30 minutes, Simulators - $24-$32

Indoor Golf Links of America

Some times golf domes take on the feel and look of an amusement arcade, a putt-putt place, or a playland. The Indoor Golf Links of America in the southwest Chicago suburb of Orland Park doesn't want any part of that reputation.

IGLA prides itself on being a place for "real" golfers. People who come to practice, learn, take lessons, hone their games, and have fun -- serious golf fun. And that's one of the reasons why reservations are frequently required at the Indoor Golf Links.

Virtual golf simulators are a big part of IGLA. They boast some of the best in the area and their software contains dozens of the world's most beautiful golf courses. There is a large putting green, and a tremendous short game practice area where you can hit pitches, chips and sand shots.

Indoor also has a top-notch club fitting center staffed by certified master fitters. They do what good clubfitters do -- measure your height, check your grip, calculate your swing speed and observe your swing style to put together a set of clubs, IGLA insists, will be better and less expensive than any off-the-shelf set.

Indoor Golf Links of America
16536 S. 104th Ave.
Orland Park, Illinois
(708) 403-4040
Fees - $25-$31/hour

World Golf Dome

The World Golf Dome is one of the newest in the Chicago area with 46 tees on two levels, a putting green, and chipping area. Although it's not exclusively a golf dome, (soccer, softball and football are also played there at times), it is the home to a large number of golf fans and that means the WGD can get more than a bit crowded on weekends and on the coldest winter days.

The dome is as big, or bigger, than many others measuring out to 100 yards from the tees to the back of the dome. It's also roomy at the bays. In some domes the golfer can feel cramped, but not here.

Good time to visit? Monday and Tuesday mornings.

World Golf Dome
8900 South 77th Avenue
Bridgeview, Illinois
(708) 599-7733
Fees - $10/30-minutes

The Golf Dome at Green Garden

Frankfort, Illinois is a quiet community, but not when it comes to golf. Over the last few years, Green Garden Country Club has been the center of sports attention in this far south suburb. Major renovations to the two courses and planned renovations to the clubhouse have transformed Green Garden from a middle-of-the-road neighborhood golf facility to one of Chicgaoland's top 20 places to play.

And now, add on the Golf Dome and a world-renowned golf instructor.

The dome has two tiers of 28 stations, a putting green and sand bunkers. It's a great place for practice and lessons. And who better to teach those lessons than Dr. Jim Suttie, a PGA Teacher of the Year and one of Golf Magazine's top 100 instructors. Suttie came to Green Garden from Cog Hill Golf and Country Club because of Green Garden's commitment to the dome and to the new renovations.

"This is one of the best facilities in Chicago," said Suttie. "My staff and I have a new opportunity here at one of the finest of its kind around."

The Golf Dome at Green Garden
9511 West Manhattan-Monee Road
Frankfort, Illinois
(815) 469-3350
Fees: $10-$11/30-minutes

Other domes and off-season ranges

Chicagoland Indoor Golf
859 West End Court
Vernon Hills, Illinois
(847) 816-7272

Indoor Golf Club of Naperville
1665 Quincy Avenue
Naperville, Illinois
(708) 778-1818

3443 Dundee Road
Northbrook, Illinois
(847) 562-1235

Golf Dome at Salt Creek
701 West Thorndale
Wood Dale, Illinois
(630) 285-9900

Ultimate Sports Dome
100 Route 30
Aurora, Illinois
(630) 820-8624

Des Plaines Golf Center
853 North River Road
Des Plaines, Illinois
(847) 803-4653

Midlane's Green to Tee Golf Dome
2205 Skokie Valley Road
Highland Park, Illinois
(847) 432-8201

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

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • GOLF DOME green Garden

    steve Kacz wrote on: Jan 2, 2011

    IF you love getting ripped off this is your place. For a buddy and I to hit for a half hour cost us over 30 dollars on a week day in the middle of the afternoon, weekends are even more. Huge rip off and not even close to worth it. stay away!


    • RE: GOLF DOME green Garden

      john schneider wrote on: Feb 10, 2014

      GG golf dome now charges by basket instead of by the hour. It is $15 for a large bucket.


  • World Golf Dome Web Address

    Rob S wrote on: Feb 19, 2006

    Their new web page can be found here:


  • Golf Simulators - Where are they?

    Gary Schwietz wrote on: Feb 13, 2005

    Playing 18 holes of indoor golf on a simulator is a good time! You can play many different courses and at various levels of complexity. In the winter when the snow is deep indoor golf is a great pastime but where do you find golf simulators? I only know of a few locations that offer indoor simulators to play golf. These locations are often booked. There must be other locations in the Chicagoland area, how do you find where these simulators are located? Here are three locations I know of:
    White Pines Golf Dome
    White Pines Golf Course
    500 West Jefferson Bensenville,IL
    (630) 766-0304
    Crystal Lake has two at $25.00/hr.
    Crystal Lake Golf Learning Center
    4418 Buhl Rd.
    Crystal Lake, IL
    (815) 479-9150
    Dave & Busters in Addison has two at $25.00/hr.
    Dave & Busters
    I-355 at Lake St.
    (630) 543-5151


    • RE: Golf Simulators - Where are they?

      Sam wrote on: Jul 18, 2005

      In Orland Park Il. may be the biggest indoor golf in the United States they have 8 booth,bar and food (Indoor golf links of America) phone no.708-403-4040


      • RE: RE: Golf Simulators - Where are they?

        Patricia Harmon wrote on: Jan 17, 2011

        What are your hours and what do you offer


  • Indoor Golf Simulator

    Forrest key wrote on: Jan 25, 2005

    Are there any other places compairable to this in the same area?
    Chicagoland Indoor Golf
    859 West End Court
    Vernon Hills, Illinois
    (847) 816-7272


    • RE: Indoor Golf Simulator

      sam wrote on: Mar 10, 2006

      indoor golf links of america is the only place that I know that has 8 simulators that always are working. besides it's agood time


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