This Fearsome Foursome Will Keep You Coming Back to Illinois

By Dave Berner, Senior Contributor

CHICAGO, IL -- California and Arizona have 10 each, Hawaii has eight, South Carolina six, but right in the heartland of America the state of Illinois has a very impressive four courses listed on the "Top 100 You Can Play" from Golf Magazine, and three of them are in the Chicago area. Each one of the four is distinctive and wonderfully appealing.

Cog Hill's "Dubsdread" - #14

Tucked in the rolling hills and wrapped around the heavy wooded areas of Chicago's southwest suburbs is Dubsdread - a favorite of the PGA Tour and the Saturday foursome.

"Dubs," as it is affectionately nicknamed, is a classic design with more elevation changes than most Chicagoland layouts and more bunkers than any of the other three courses at the famed Cog Hill Country Club in Lemont, Illinois. The 123 bunkers surround large, topsy-turvy greens. Plus, getting to those greens is a journey of twists and turns through massive oak and maple trees.

No wonder it's considered a solid challenge for the PGA Tour when its players come to Dubsdread each year for the Advil Western Open.

"The TV coverage certainly helps to keep Dubsdread in the public eye and the Tour players love it," says Cog Hill's head golf professional, Jeff Rimsnider.

The 7,310-yard course was designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee in 1964 and was shaped with the natural terrain of the land in mind. There is nothing that looks "forced" at Dubsdread. It's a rambling, parkland setting that creates a peaceful ambiance where the echo of a drive well struck is many times the only sound you'll hear.

The hole most golfers talk about is the finishing hole. Eighteen is a long-ish Par-4 (448 from the tips, 396 from the middle tees) that moves slightly down hill to a green protected by water on the left and a couple bunkers on the right. The green is also devilish with a lot of slope from right to left.

Dubsdread and the entire Cog Hill complex is certainly a premier place to play, but it's also distinctive in that it's a family run facility and a no-frills operation. You won't find attendants waiting to clean your clubs, or handing out divot tools. Cog Hill is simply not about bells and whistles.

"It's not unusual to see the owner, Frank Jemsek, in the pro shop helping to change a customer's spikes, " says Rimsnider.

Dubsdread at Cog Hill Country Club (630)-257-5872 12294 Archer Avenue Lemont, Illinois

Green Fee: $125 including cart.

How to Get There

From Chicago: Lake Shore Drive to I-55 south. Exit at Route 83 south to Archer Avenue. (35 minutes)

From O'Hare: Interstate 294 south to Interstate-55 south. Exit at Route 83 south to Archer Avenue. (30-minutes)

Where to Stay

Americ Inn 185 Remington Boulevard Bolingbrook, IL 630-378-3500

Twopath Inn 933 South State Street Lockport, IL 815-383-1881

Where to Eat

The Cog Hill Country Club's Trophy Room 630-257-5872

Enrico's - Homemade Italian Specialties 427 N. LaGrange Road Frankfort, IL 815-469-4187

"The General" at Eagle Ridge Inn and Resort #52

The General is named for Ulysses S. Grant, who lived in the town of Galena, Illinois before the Civil War. And to score on this rugged layout, like any good military man, you better have your weapons (your clubs) at ready and prepared to attack.

Marching in a straight line is also a good idea. The General does not react kindly to those who move down its fairways in a crooked fashion.

Tucked in the northwest corner of the state, The Eagle Ridge Inn and Resort sits in a part of Illinois where the topography is dramatic. Rock formations, cliffs and steep hills present wonderful land for very interesting golf architecture.

The team of Roger Packard and two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North knew they had some great terrain to work with, but they also had to make the course playable. So, they blasted more than 140,000 cubic yards of solid rock in order to form and mold the layout.

In some spots they left the rocks, even in the middle of the fairway.

"The 17th is a par-4 that runs straight uphill with a natural rock cropping right in the center of what looks to be the landing area," says Dale Balvin, the Director of Golf Operations at Eagle Ridge. "Seventeen is a love-hate relationship."

The General's signature hole, however, is one that is hard not to love. The tee for the 357-yard hole sits 200 feet above the fairway. From here a hang glider could easily launch a soaring flight and the cart path down to the landing area serpentines along the hillside reminding one of San Francisco's famous Lombard Street.

The General plays as long as 6820 yards and as short as 5335 yards. If you attack it from the right set of tees, it's a very enjoyable journey. But considering the course's difficulty (slope rating: 137), you need to measure up to the U.S. Army's motto:

"Be all that you can be."

The General 815-777-4525 400 Eagle Ridge Drive Galena, Illinois

Green Fee: $155 - Weekends, $130 - Weekdays. Includes cart.

How to Get There

From Downtown Chicago or O'Hare Airport: Take Interstate 90 to Illinois 20 west. (2-1/2 to 3 hours)

Where to Stay

Eagle Ridge Inn & Resort 400 Eagle Ridge Drive Galena, Illinois 1-800-892-2269

Where to Eat

Woodlands Restaurant & Lounge 815-777-5050

Spikes Bar & Grill (General Clubhouse) 815-777-4528

The Glen Club #61

The Glen Club opened in the summer of 2001 and already it has made a big impact on golfers in the Chicago area.

This Tom Fazio design is a marvel of golf course architecture. It truly was created out of almost nothing. The layout was built on the grounds of the old Glenview Naval Air Station where concrete runways and old World War II vintage buildings dotted the uninspiring tabletop flat land.

But Fazio trucked in millions of cubic feet of dirt, 4000 trees and created a couple lakes and a creek to bring the par-72 course to life.

Like magic, The Glen Club took shape and the now rolling terrain has given birth to a superb test of the game stretching out to 7255 yards and incorporating several architectural styles and design elements.

The Glen Club's par-3s get a lot of the attention. The 11th is a particularly memorable hole that plays more than 200 yards and has water all long the left side. But the 156-yard 4th is one of the most beautiful holes on the golf course. It sits in a graceful valley and is surrounded by pine trees.

The clubhouse at The Glen Club is one of the most impressive anywhere in the Midwest. It measures over 48,000 square feet, houses an elegant pro shop and a magnificent restaurant run by Chicago chef, Aaron Walters. It also boasts 21 overnight rooms for those who want to stay-and-play in a premier setting.

The Glen Club 847-724-7272 2901 West Lake Avenue Glenview, Illinois

Green Fee: $110 Monday-Thursday, $135 Friday-Sunday. Includes cart.

How to Get There

From Chicago: Take Kennedy Expressway (90/94) to Edens Expressway (94) then merge to Interstate 294 north. Exit at Willow Road east and follow to Patriot Road south. Club Entrance is on the left. (35 minutes)

From O'Hare Airport: Take Interstate 294 north to Willow Road exit. Follow east to Patriot Road and turn south. Club Entrance is on the left. (30 minutes)

Where to Stay

The Glen Club has 21 elegant overnight rooms that can be combined
as part of a play-and-stay package.

Where to Eat

The Grill The Glen Club 847-724-7272

Kemper Lakes Golf Course #92

Some who play Kemper Lakes tell the first timers to "bring along their scuba gear". Yes, there is plenty of water on this 23-year old Chicago gem, but if you know where to put your tee ball, the water can be avoided.

Still there are those who find Kemper Lakes a real monster to negotiate. But even those who struggle around its fairways are delighted at the end of the day. Saying you "played Kemper today" is a statement that tells anyone who listens that you had a superb day on a great golf course. It's not really about the score - scoring at Kemper takes some doing - instead it's about the experience.

PGA Tour players also love and respect Kemper Lakes. It was the site of the 1989 PGA Championship where we all got to watch Payne Stewart hoist the trophy. Plus, Kemper has hosted the SBC Senior Open and the 2002 LaSalle Bank Open on the BUY.Com Tour.

The stretch of holes everyone talks about is 16, 17 and 18.

Sixteen is a long par-4 rolling out to 426 yards. Seventeen is a marvelous par-3 over water and playing as long as 203 yards. The green is big, but doesn't have a lot of depth making for a challenging iron shot. And 18 is a beauty. It measures 384 yards from the men's tees and is literally squeezed between lakes. It can be nasty.

Kemper Insurance recently sold the golf course to a regular player at the club - Ed Boado. As someone who absolutely adores Kemper Lakes, Boado says the course is only "going to get better".

Kemper Lakes
Old McHenry Road
Long Grove, Illinois
Director of Golf: Bryan Moran
Green Fees: $135, $100 and $75 depending on time of day

How to Get There

From O'Hare Airport: Take Interstate 294 north to Half Day Road. Travel west to Old McHenry Road. Club entrance is 1-½ miles on the left. (35 minutes)

Downtown Chicago: Take Kennedy Expressway (90/94) to Edens Expressway (94). Then merge onto Interstate 294 north to Half Day Road. Travel west to Old McHenry and course is 1-½ miles on the left. (45 minutes)

Where to Stay

Wyndham Garden Hotel 900 W. Lake Cook Road Buffalo Grove, IL 847-215-8883

Crowne Plaza - Chicago North Shore 510 E. Hwy. 83 (4 mi. No. of Long Grove) Mundelein, IL 847-949-5100

Where to Eat

Kemper Lakes Clubhouse Restaurant, 847-320-3450

Enzo & Lucia's Italian Ristorante Long Grove, IL 847-478-8825

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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