Oak Brook Golf Club: A Challenging Track for Every Skill Level

By Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

Oak Brook, IL -- Oak Brook Golf Club, the small brother of the famed Butler National in Oak Brook, is located 30 minutes west of the Loop. It's 15 minutes of fame came in 1986 when Butler National, the host of the Western Open at the time, used part of Oak Brook to complete the tournament which was almost washed out because of rain.

The facilities are wonderful at Oak Brook. A well-stocked clubhouse with large, comfortable locker rooms waits for players. The practice area is amazing with well-marked yardage markers and plenty of room to stretch out and get some work in before hitting the links. With two putting greens, a chipping area and an emphasis on golf instruction; Oak Brook is in an elite class when it comes to teaching and practicing the game of golf.

The golf course itself is a fun, challenging track built for every skill level. From the tips, the course is 6,500 yards while the shortest yardage is just 5,300 yards. The major element that separates a decent round from a great round is how golfers handle the greens. Most of the putting surfaces are huge with big breaks and ridges throughout the terrain. While being below the hole can't be overstated, it is also imperative to be on the correct side of the pin.

Oak Brook's layout begins big with par-5s on two of the first three holes. This feature is tough for players who do not warm up with a bucket of balls or even stretching exercises. But for players ready for the challenge, this can be an opportunity to get out of the gate quickly.

The first hole is 551 yards from the tips with a wide-open tee shot waiting to greet golfers. Two straight shots will give the player a mid to short iron to a large green. This putting surface wakes the player up to how important the short game will need to be during the next four hours. It is impossible to find a mid-length or longer putt without at least two breaks on this green.

The second par-5 on the course is the third hole. This is one of the most demanding, but rewarding holes on the course. The direct dogleg left, measuring 538 yards, has a pond perfectly placed at the bend along with a fairway trap. With bigger hitters needing a 300-yard bomb just to get over the water, this is a standard three-shot par-5. A solid drive just right of the trap puts players in great position for two solid irons to get home. The two-tiered green is as slick as any on the course but is receptive to long irons with only a left bunker protecting the putting surface.

The next three holes are of the same silk, dogleg par-4s with water at the bend. All between 340 and 380 yards, these holes are a good stretch of golf in which players must stay dry and guard against getting too aggressive.

The ninth hole is the toughest hole at Oak Brook and one of the toughest in the area. Measuring 415 from the tips, good drives might find the creek that crosses the fairway at 240 yards. The hole turns right at about 275 yards out with the same creek running the distance up the right side of the fairway. The creek, along with a well-established line of well-placed trees, blocks any chance of trying to cut the dogleg with two strokes. The green dives back toward the front right, giving way to a lot of downhill putts with the pin on the right side.

Two holes come to mind that put a stamp on the backside. The 13th and 14th holes are a long par-5 and par-3 respectively. The 13th is a double dogleg right measuring a treacherous 555 yards. The hole works its way around a large pond with the green in close view to the right when standing at the tee box. With a driver in hand, players can swing away to a wide-open fairway with the water to the right. The second shot is where things start to get hairy, as players will have to make the decision on how far to go over the water and make the third shot shorter. The longer the approach, the more players will have to deal with water that works itself up to the narrow, well-bunker green. Two traps cut into the front of the putting surface making it almost impossible to get home in two. The green is sloped steeply to the back, making it imperative to be pin high or shorter for any chance of the birdie.

The 14th is a deadly par-3 measuring 179 yards. The same brutal water hazard on 13 works itself down the right side of this hole. The key to sticking it on the green is the wind that tends to swirl while standing on the tee box. The green is wide but not deep, making a club decision even tougher. A bailout shot to the left will find the huge bunker that the green slides away from.

These two holes ask golfers for two completely different shots off of the tee box and well-practiced short games around the green. While many courses have signature holes, this has to be Oak Brook Golf Club's signature stretch of holes.

About ten minutes up the road is a great place to stop after a fine round of golf. The Clubhouse, run by a partnership including the likes of Kevin Costner, Fred Couples and Jack Nicklaus, is located at 298 Oak Brook Center just north of the course. The menu is a perfect array of salads, appetizers and sandwiches, but the can't misses are the higher end items such as the Black Angus strip steak and prime rib. If not for a meal, still stop in the Clubhouse for a beer to check out the great lodge.

Oak Brook Golf Club
2606 York Road
Oak Brook , IL
Phone: (630)990-3032

Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

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