Bittersweet Golf Club Leaves A Pleasant Aftertaste

By Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

Gurnee, Ill. - Bittersweet is a perfect name for this golf course. This 6,300 yard track has only three par 4s over 400 yards, which makes it sweet for the long straight hitters. But the bitter pill comes with all 18 holes featuring some sort of water or marshland to work around. The course is planted with bent grass with large visible bunkers, along with tiny traps sprinkled throughout the fairways and green sides.

On 240 acres, Bittersweet offers some of the most beautiful golfing surroundings in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Along with the golf, the facilities include a grass driving range and practice green. Programs at the course include reserved weekend tee times, golf instruction for every level with plenty of options, and golf outings for the small and large groups. An unusual feature offered by the course is the player's card program. The player's card acts as a credit card in which the client puts a certain amount into an account and is rewarded by how much they spend at the course, up to 30 percent of what they spend.

The clubhouse features a small pro shop, locker rooms, and a snack shop. The service is slow and a little disorganized, but friendly. The facilities are well kept except for the locker room which was untidy. All said though, the experience outside of the golf was decent.

One neat feature of the amenities are the golf carts. Onboard is the new age of golf score keeping and course management. A computer screen hangs from the top of the cart and provides everything from distance to the hole and hazards, to golf tips on playing the course. Another feature is the ability of course management to communicate with groups on the speed of play or weather advisories. If used correctly, this feature can be a great instrument to the golfing experience and scoring well.

The course opens with a short right-to-left par 4 measuring 319 yards. A pond is on the left side and protects the front, left of the green. A large bunker down the right does not come into play unless players are extremely wild off the tee. The fairway narrows to the green which is protected by another huge bunker. An easy opening hole if golfers can stay dry.

The next hole might be the most interesting on the course. A 531 yard par 5, has a pond on the right which catches any drive sliced. Tee shots also can get wet as the fairway runs into another pond at about 270 yards. After a well struck long iron, the further pond comes into play on the left making the next shot a risk-reward opportunity. The longer the second shot over the pond, the easier the approach is to the small green with a short iron. Walking away from this hole with better than a bogey will kick start a good round.

By the fourth hole, many straight players will realize that the course is about accuracy instead of length. Most tee shots will even penalize golfers for being long with a blind water hazard or a unsettling stance. Approach shots are of the same grain. The greens tend to reward for being on the same quadrant as the pin. This becomes ever so apparent on the fourth hole.

After playing a short par 3 over water, players come up to the tee of the 334 yard par 4 thinking about smashing a drive. With water once again evoking itself down middle left of this fairway, the smartest play is with a mid iron. Any drive through the fairway on the right will be on a large ridge or in a bunker. The next shot is to a large, flat green with water in the back and bunkers in the front. If played correctly, this hole can lend itself to plenty of pars and birdies, but if played poorly can ruin a round.

Another great example of this target golf course is the 7th hole. Another short par 4 measuring 326 yards, this hole is a dogleg to the left. A bunker on the bend is what to aim for at about 180 yards out. Approaches are into a green which slopes sharply down toward the fairway. The key is to have a wedge in hand and to stay below the hole for any chance for a par.

After making the turn, the back nine opens with another short par 4. This hole is 340 yards to the green, with water and wasteland to carry off the tee and all the way down the left side of the fairway. This might be one hole that long hitters can take out their driver and swing away. But it still asks for accuracy as it sits on a ridge sloping toward the fairway.

Bittersweet offers some of the most beautiful golfing surroundings in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

The 12th hole is the most intimidating on the course. The 530 yard par 5 asks golfers to hit over wasteland and water twice through the hole. With water down the right side and trees and brush to the left side, players have no room for error. Drives well struck will carry the first hazard with ease and should be placed down the left side. The next shot is an easy mid iron short which should be played short of the water which comes into play 100 yards from the green. Any long third shot faces the adventure of going over the water into a thin green. If on the right side of this green in regulation, a good stroke will be a chance for a birdie.

The course finishes with the same type of double hazard hole. This time it is the second longest par 4 on the course, measuring 403 yards. Off the tee the hole plays slightly to the left with water to be carried for about 140 yards. With a powerful drive it is possible to get wet down the right side or long. The next shot is all carry to a narrow green. There is bail out room long on this green so taking an extra club is not out of the question A par would top off a good round of golf and have players coming back for more.

Bittersweet Golf club is located in Gurnee about two miles from Great America Amusement Park. Gurnee is conveniently located an hour from both Chicago and Milwaukee. Reservations are recommended but not required.

Bittersweet Golf Club
875 Almond Rd.
Gurnee, Illinois
Phone (847) 855-9031

Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

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