The Glen Club heads top 10 places to play in Chicago

By Dave Berner, Senior Contributor

CHICAGO, Ill. -- The Second City is full of more superb golf courses than Moe Norman has balls in his shag bag. There are more than 200 public layouts in the Chicagoland area, but we made the task of choosing your next Windy City tee time a little easier by narrowing the list down to the top 10.

And because some of you will be making your way to Chicago this coming summer to get a glimpse of the world's best at the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, we thought you might want to know the best places to put a peg in the ground when all that spectating gets your playing juices flowing.

Let's get right to it. Here are "Chicago's Top 10 Golf Courses for 2002" ranked in order and based on conditions, design, cost, and playability.

The Glen Club - Glenview, Ill.; Kemper Lakes Golf Course - Long Grove, Ill.; Dubsdread at Cog Hill - Lemont, Ill.; Cantigny Golf and Tennis - Wheaton, Ill.; Harborside International - Chicago; Pine Meadows Golf Club - Mundelein, Ill.; Heritage Bluffs Golf Course - Channahon, Ill.; Prairie Landing Golf Club - West Chicago, Ill.; Orchard Valley Golf Course - Aurora, Ill.; Ruffled Feathers Golf Club - Lemont, Ill.

The Glen Club: This is Tom Fazio's masterpiece in transformation. The Glen Club sits on the site of the former Glenview Naval Air Station where Fazio magically moved tons of dirt turning a flat, uninspiring piece of land into acres of rolling hills, lakes, and creeks. The Glen Club is now the new home of the Illinois Open and will host the Nationwide Tour's LaSalle Bank Chicago Open in 2003. Cost - $110-$135. Phone: (847) 724-7272

Kemper Lakes: This is a true test, but it's also quite fair. Water? You bet. But the layout also includes tree-lined fairways, rolling hills and quick greens. Plus, the finish is magnificent. The par-3 17th over water and the almost island fairway on the par-4 18th are the best challenges on the golf course. Cost - $135. Phone: (847) 320-3450

Dubsdread: The big boys from the PGA Tour play Dubsdread every year in the Western Open and every year they praise the golf course. It sits in the hilly, southwestern Chicago suburb of Lemont at the Cog Hill Country Club along with three other courses at the facility. Dubsdread is the best and most challenging. Bunkers galore and not a home or roadway in sight. Cost - $125-$135. Phone: (630) 257-5872

Cantigny Golf and Tennis: This may be the prettiest golf course in Chicago. It sits in the middle of the unspoiled estate of the former publisher of the Chicago Tribune, Colonel Robert R. McCormick. There are three nine-hole courses at the facility making for a number of 18-hole combinations and for one of the best "walks in the park" any golfer could experience. Cost - $80-$95. Phone: (630) 668-3323

Harborside International: This place used to be a dump - literally. The 500 acres along Lake Calumet on Chicago's industrial South Side were loaded with concrete debris, sludge and industrial trash. But architects Tim and Dick Nugent had a vision of turning the land into a marvelous golf facility complete with two 18-hole layouts, the best practice area in the city, and a scrumptious four-star restaurant. This is truly a links-style layout with only about five trees on the entire property. Cost - $70-$80. Phone: (312) 782-7837

Pine Meadow Golf Club: Towering evergreens and hardwood trees accent this north suburban design allowing the golfer to feel alone on each fairway and creating one of the most naturally pristine golf experiences in the Midwest. The golf shop and grill are nothing to write home about, but the golf course deserves volumes. Cost - $76-$92. Phone: (847) 566-4653

Heritage Bluffs: This may be the Chicago area's best municipal golf course. Heritage Bluffs starts out as a mounded, links-style design, but quickly moves into heavily wooded terrain - dramatic land with rocky ridges, elevation changes and pine forests. The coolest hole is the finish. The 18th starts from a tucked-away tee box above a pond that sends you into a narrow fairway surrounded by natural rock formations leading to a green protected by steep, rugged hills. And all this for a reasonable price. Cost - $32-$44. Phone: (815) 467-7888

Prairie Landing Golf Club: This Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design is one of the best risk-reward layouts in the Chicago area. Jones sculpted the terrain to produce challenge and beauty in a mixture of prairie links and parkland style architecture. The fairways and greens are always in super shape at Prairie Landing and the practice facility is magnificent. It includes a bent grass range, short game area with target greens, and three regulation practice holes. Cost
- $68-$90. Phone: (630) 208-7600

Orchard Valley Golf Club: The price at Orchard Valley used to be outrageously low. Then the word caught on how good a golf course it is, and the prices went up. But still it's a decent value for a very playable golf course. Orchard Valley also has one of the best pro shops in the business. If they don't have it, you can't get it. Cost - $48-$55. Phone: (630) 907-0500

Ruffled Feathers Golf Club: When Ruffled first opened in 1992, critics loved the design, but thought it was just too hard. Since then the superintendents have soften the rough, cut some of the more penal prairie grass and made the place a lot more playable. The most memorable hole is the 11th - the island green par-3. You knew there had to be one since the course is a collaboration of Pete Dye and his son P.B. Dye. Cost - $89-$125. Phone: (630) 257-1000

Here are a few other "Bests" for 2002 that can't be forgotten.

Best 9-Hole Golf Course - Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course - better known by its old name, Waveland Golf Course and sitting smack-dab along Lake Michigan in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park. It's a bit rough around the edges from so much play, but it is truly a good golf course in a cool, city setting.

Best Hot Dog at the Turn - Cog Hill Country Club. We don't know what they do to them but they're better than the dogs at Wrigley Field.

Best Chance To Play Two - Getting in 36 on a given day is easiest when you have two 18-hole courses, and Harborside International has two of the best.

Best Practice Facility - There are a lot of good ones, but how can you beat three regulation practice holes at Prairie Landing?

Best Renovation - Arrowhead Golf Course in Wheaton, Ill., was simply a cow pasture until the Park District transformed the place by re-shaping the already beautiful land and planting bent grass everywhere.

Best Use of Garbage Cans - At Bolingbrook Golf Club you can't find a single garbage can. Every one of them, including those at each tee box, is buried in the ground with only the lids at turf level.

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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