February is for love and making plans for golf

By Dave Berner, Senior Contributor

CHICAGO -- Winter may have its icy hands wrapped around the necks of the Illinois golfer, but cupid is still finding a way to skate close enough to fire off a few arrows in the direction of your favorite destination for golf and for romance.

In the North, the days around Valentine's Day are not usually days for golf, so love takes a front seat. This makes for the perfect time to give your sweetheart, along with the chocolates and roses, springtime reservations to one of Illinois' best golf resorts. Your significant other doesn't play? No worry. Whether both of you tee it up, or only one of you, these golf destinations will satisfy both your passions for the game and for each other.

Eagle Ridge Inn and Resort

In the northwest corner of Illinois, near the Civil War era town of Galena, nature appears to have shaken things up. Most of the landscape in Illinois is flat and straightforward, but not in this part of the state. The last Ice Age molded and sculpted the earth like an artist and gave us the perfect canvas for high hills, deep valleys, cliffs and ridges creating a beautiful spot for a grand getaway and memorable golf.

Eagle Ridge has three 18-hole courses, including The General which has won numerous national awards and is certainly the most visually stunning of the trio.

But The North and The South courses are not to be forgotten. Each tumbles through oak and walnut tree forests, moves along mountainous terrain, and puts you in the middle of nature's glory.

Inside The Galena Territory, the land on which this resort sits is a magnificent inn and hundreds of resort homesites used as rental property, all nestled into the surrounding woods.

The charming 80-room inn is on top of a bluff overlooking Lake Galena and most of the rooms and suites come with balconies. In the heart of the inn complex sits a spacious common area with a double-sided fireplace. This is a great spot for a late night glass of wine with the one you love.

The resort homes come in many sizes - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 bedrooms, and are nestled into many different areas of the territory - in the woods, along the fairways, next to the lake. If it truly is a romantic getaway you're looking for, go with one of the smaller homes built just for two.

Whether your holiday is for snuggling, hiking, boating or just a lot of driving, chipping and putting, Eagle Ridge can match your idea of a wonderful weekend.

The Glen Club

If the only thing you and your honey think about, besides each other, is the game of golf, then The Glen Club is the most elegant and classy of places to plan a 36-hole lover's getaway.

Let's start with the golf course. The 18 holes at The Glen Club are some of Tom Fazio's best. Golf Magazine ranks the course as no. 61 on the "Top Courses You Can Play" list and travelgolf.com gave the course a no. 1 ranking among all other layouts in Illinois.

But what really makes The Glen Club a romantics dream are the accommodations.

Not only is The Glen Club one of the most prestigious golf courses in the Midwest, it is also one of the most unique places to spend the night. The 48,000 square foot clubhouse holds 21 overnight rooms that combine simple luxury and elegance. There's a subtle glamour and intimacy to the rooms. Plus, just downstairs, is one of the best restaurants in Chicago's North Shore neighborhood. The Grill, with its clubby feel, is both casual and classy.

If you are looking to impress your golfing Valentine, The Glen Club is the best bet.

Indian Lakes Resort

This resort just west of Chicago was once tired and rather frayed at the edges. The two 18-hole courses that were part of the property had lost their shimmer and had experienced minimal care for several years. But an enormous renovation has turned the resort into a new destination worth a new look.

Granted, Indian Lakes Resort will never link itself to the same kind of luxury you would find at The Glen Club, but there is no doubt it is fast becoming a very viable choice for any love-struck twosome.

First, there's been a $6 million renovation to the two 18-hole courses. Some of the work is still being accomplished, but at least one of the 18 hole layouts is always up and running. New bunkers, new bent grass fairways, and reconstruction of the green complexes have transformed the playability and the beauty of the courses.

Second, the owner of the resort, First Hospitality Group, is completing a huge renovation project of the resort's accommodations. The resort's 314 rooms have all been redone, redecorated and refurbished. Plus, there's a brand new spa at the resort -- Spa Vargas -- featuring not only facials and manicures, but massages too.

Last, ask yourself this question: What's a romantic weekend without the right food? Indian Lakes takes care of that with the famous and very successful, Chicago-based, Levy Restaurants now managing the resort's food and beverage operations.

During these days surrounding the Valentines Day holiday, be sure to take care of the card, the roses, and the dinner reservations, but don't miss planning for another celebration of your love when the snow melts and the smell of fresh cut grass is in the air. You never know, the spring season and golf may be aphrodisiacs?

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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