Eagle Creek Resort: For the golfer and the fisherman

By Dave Berner, Senior Contributor

FINDLAY, Illinois -- There are no two pastimes as linked at golf and fishing. Both are solitary, individual sports; both take boatloads of patience; and both breed a bunch of big, fat fibbers. "If you want bass, this place has got big ones," said the guy running the local gas station outside of Findlay, Illinois. "Lake Shelbyville has large mouths as long as your body."

Ah, hello? As long as your BODY?

And of course the golf counterpart to that tall tale is the one about the drive that carried 300-yards, or the 60-foot putt with the triple-break that did a 360 around the hole and dropped in, or the round that was under par until the last hole when you just happened to triple-bogey.

It seems the art of embellishing a story is something any serious golfer or fisherman should be able to do. With that said, it shouldn't come to anyone' s surprise that the guy at the Findlay gas station was a golfer, too.

"Love the game. Have you been to Eagle Creek?"

Eagle Creek Resort - Fishing

Just outside Findlay, Illinois are a lake and a resort that might be the best place in the state to combine golf and fishing.

"We get a lot of campers who come in to golf. They fish the lake, see the course from their boats, and come up to play," says Bud Wilhelm, one of the rangers and clubhouse workers at the golf course at Eagle Creek Resort.

"We have a lot of fishing tournaments on Lake Shelbyville and the guys who come in for the contests, also bring their clubs."

Eagle Creek Resort sits in the middle of Illinois and is surrounded by 34,000 acres of state protected woodlands. Plus the resort rests on the shoreline of Lake Shelbyville where you can fish over 11,000 acres of water. Large mouth bass as long as your body? No, not quite. But snagging one about 36-inches long and nearly 9lbs is possible. In fact a fisherman from Mattoon, Ill., did just that and holds the current record. A Catfish weighing 62lbs and a Muskie measuring 51 inches long are also in the record books.

Fishing is so popular, the resort felt it necessarily to take on a $2 million dollar project to expand the boating potential and add 48 new slips. But Lake Shelbyville never feels crowded and there are enough coves and inlets to allow for quiet angler moments.

However, let's make it very clear. Eagle Creek Resort is not a fishing lodge. It is a complete resort with an outdoor swimming pool, an indoor pool, miles of hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, restaurants with stunning lake views, a conference center, miniature golf and real golf; in fact, very good real golf.

Eagle Creek Resort - Golf

This is a part of the state where being an outdoors man is a foregone conclusion. Remember the gas station guy? You live in this part of Illinois, you do stuff outside. That used to mean hunting, fishing and camping only. But over the last decade or so, golf has been added to the list. Part of the reason is Eagle Creek.

You would really have to work at making a mess of this golf course. It's in the middle of Eagle Creek State Park with towering trees and one of Illinois ' biggest lakes right next to it. The land is glacier-carved and everywhere around you are whitetail deer, coyote, turkeys and foxes. Outdoors stuff.

Ken Killian, who designed Kemper Lakes outside Chicago, was the mastermind behind Eagle Creek. It's clear he simply let the land tell him what to do. Plus, he was sure to keep the course playable for the casual player taking on the game as a laid back resort guest, but wasn't afraid to give it some bite for those who want to experience a little golf stress.

But what maybe most important in the recent history of the golf course is the hiring of a new superintendent. Raymond Tijerina was an assistant at Chicago's historic Medinah Country Club where the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship have been played. As you can imagine, Raymond is as fastidious as a superintendent can get and is tweaking Eagle Creek to its best conditions ever.

If the link between golf and fishing seems unusual to you, it really shouldn 't. Just think of some of the PGA Tour players who've been known to bring their rods with them on the road - Fuzzy Zoeller, David Duval, Mark O'Meara. And then there's that Tiger Woods TV commercial where he joins the old man on the dock for a little angling and "hooks" one into the lake. The connections are endless, and the stories are too - one good fib after another.

Shelby County Office of Tourism
315 East Main Street
Shelbyville, Illinois 62565

Fast Fact

Fishing tournaments on Lake Shelbyville are a huge draw to the area. There are sometimes 4-5 angling contests every month and fisherman from all over the Midwest come to test their skills. Plenty of the contestants stay at the resort and because of that, it's advised you make your golf trip reservations at Eagle Creek in advance.


Eagle Creek is easily reached by U.S. 51, I-57 or I-70. It is 3-hours from Chicago, 2 ½ from St. Louis and 2 ½ hours from Indianapolis.

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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