FAQ for Chicago and Illinois

By David Stone, Contributor

First of all, how many courses are there in the area?

A search of the PGA's course database shows that there are 637 courses in the state, 452 of which are public. A total of 22 courses are within Chicago's city limits.

Which are the area's best courses?

Of the PGA's top 100 U.S. courses, two are located in Illinois. Both are private - the Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton and Medinah's #3 in Medinah, IL. Some of the Chicago area's best public courses are: Cog Hill in Lemont, whose Dubsdread course hosts the Advil Western Open and has been called the best course in Illinois by Golf Week Magazine; Kemper Lakes in Long Grove, which is one of three U.S. daily fee courses to host a major championship (the 1989 PGA Championship); and Seven Bridges in suburban Woodbridge. Also, Wheaton's Cantigny was named one of the "top 50 courses you can play in America" by Golf Magazine in 2000.

Do Chicago and Illinois have a strong connection to golf's past?

Absolutely. Chicago-area golf dates back to 1893, when, with $300, an investor group incorporated the first local course, a nine-hole facility in suburban Downers Grove. Seven years later, in 1900, Harry Vardon won the US Open at the Chicago Golf Club, which was the first professional tournament held in Illinois. And in 1925, Jackson Park's course on Chicago's south side was named the "world's busiest golf course," with a total of 59,843 rounds played.

What about Chicago's most famous golfer, Michael Jordan?

Jordan, who lives in north suburban Highland Park, has been known to frequent a number of local courses - all private, of course. But he does make occasional appearances at area tournaments and Pro-Ams. In July 2001, he played in the SBC Senior Open's Pro-Am at Kemper Lakes in Long Grove. Unfortunately, Jordan usually isn't good enough to make the cut; at the 1999 Chicago Open, he shot an 84-81 and finished in a tie for 126th place out of 142 entrants.

Everyone knows that Chicago is a cold-weather city. How many months of the year can I play golf?

The answer is, it depends. In general, June, July, and August are automatic golfing months; in May and September, your odds are pretty good in terms of getting good weather; and beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. However, it's not uncommon to see diehards on the links as early as March and as late as November. Also, as you travel downstate (and away from Chicago), the warmer it gets. Springfield, the state capital, is more mild than Chicago is, with an average monthly temperature that's about four degrees warmer.

Spring in Illinois has pretty much turned into an extended winter, as the average high temperature in March and April is 46 and 59, respectively. From May through August, the average high ranges from 70 to 84, with average lows from 51 to 66. Rainfall isn't generally a problem, as the average monthly precipitation is generally between 3.5 and 4.0 inches during the summer months.

What about the rest of the year? Am I out of luck?

Unless you like hitting off of frozen grass, you may be. Again, depending on the year, courses can be operational as late as November. But there are a number of indoor golfing "domes" that provide for year-round hitting, as well as heated driving ranges that are open all year.

What about Chicago's nickname - the Windy City - will that affect my game?

Fortunately, no. Chicago's reputation as the Windy City has nothing to do with the gusts that come in from Lake Michigan, although at times it seems like it should be. Instead, the nickname dates back to the late 19th century, when the rest of the world thought that local politicians and boosters were full of hot air in their bid to host the 1892 World Fair. (By the way, Chicago won the competition.)

Can I see any professional events in the area?

This summer, the two main pro events in the Chicagoland area are the SBC Senior Open (which has been held at Kemper Lakes for the last five years) and the PGA Tour's Advil Western Open at Cog Hill.

What about the Chicago Golf Show?

Billed as "the nation's oldest and largest" golf show, the Chicago Golf Show is held annually in February at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont. (However, the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando is widely known as the world's largest golf trade show.)

The Chicago Golf Show (www.chicagogolfshow.com) is now bigger and better with the support of the Illinois Section of the PGA, which in the past, held its own competing show. The 2001 Chicago Golf Show boasted more than 300 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees.

David StoneDavid Stone, Contributor

David Stone is a longtime freelance writer and editor. Although he received his MBA degree in 1999 and works on the development of public facilities (including golf courses), he continues to write for a number of sports-related publications. He is currently the business writer for Soccer, Basketball, Football, Auto Racing, and Hockey Digests, and was formerly a staff writer for The Sports Business Daily.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • golfstore

    Lasbleiz wrote on: Oct 19, 2005

    I'm searching a big golf store in Chicago (with good prices and advices)
    Thank you