Gleneagles Country Club: Traditional Golf Thrives in Illinois

By Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

LEMONT, IL - If you are in the mood to take a step back in time, then Gleneagles Country Club in Lamont is a perfect golf course for you. Built in 1924, the golf facility has kept most of the important elements which define it as a traditional golf course.

Close to 30 minutes south of O'Hare airport and 45 minutes west of downtown, Gleneagles is easily accessible from most parts of the area. Thirty-six holes occupy this vast landscape, the Red Course and the White Course. The course is well known for its history, as it was home of the Chicago Open in 1958 and 1959 in which Ken Venturi was the winner.

The facility is nothing to speak of. With many great spacious clubhouses and facilities close by, such as Cog Hill, Gleneagles has decided to keep it simple and to the point. A tiny pro shop anchors a large clubhouse and putting green. Since the facility offers two courses, it has plenty of room for gatherings and parties.

The White course or better known as the Woodlands course, is almost 300 yards longer than the Red course and, according to the staff, a slight bit tougher. The tee boxes are split into the three traditional lengths. Most golfers should play off the middle tees while the short tees are strictly for novices. The course is marked extremely well with 200, 150 and 100-yard markers in the center of each fairway.

Both courses feature large oaks and elms along the fairways. Along with well-placed bunkers and water hazards in play, the ground crew cuts the fairway extremely narrow. Many drives that would still be on the short stuff on many courses are well into the rough at Gleneagles. Along with the tiny greens, this feature makes it a premium for straight iron play for a good score.

The need for precision is evident at the start of a round on the White course. The first hole is a straightforward 350-yard par-4. The key off the tee is to swing away with a long iron and get it on the down slope featured in the middle of the fairway at about 180 yards from the tee. After a well-place drive, the next shot is a short iron with the idea of keeping the ball below the hole.

The green, which is flanked by two large bunkers on either side, slopes sharply toward the fairway. A par is improbable without being on the green below the hole in regulation. With the next hole being a par-3 measuring 178 yards, the course dictates the need for players to be on their iron game quickly to have a chance at a good score.

The front nine continues with four long straight par-4s. With the narrow cut fairways and smallish greens waiting, golfers should play this stretch of golf conservatively and with plenty of patience. This is compounded by the fact that the seventh through to the 14th holes are conducive to pars and birdies.

The 13th hole is the only par-5 on the backside. Not because of the length, which is only 484 yards, but due to the narrowness of the fairway and tiny green, it might be hardest hole on the course. Coupled with the four short par-4s and one par-3 to finish this course, the course tends to become problematic for players not having a solid round due to inaccuracy off the tee and with approach shots into the tiny greens.

The Red course also begins easy and starts to put a straggle hold on players wild off the tee box and with their long irons. Two short par-4s on the first and fifth holes flank three long dangerous par-4s await golfers trying to get off to the right foot.

The second half of the front side is the easiest stretch of golf at Gleneagles with two par-3s and a 356-yard par-4 to finish of the front side.

Like the backside of the white course, the fun begins late in the round. The 14th hole begins this treachery, as it is one of the toughest holes anywhere at Gleneagles. It is a 212-yard par-3 that plays left to right. A small green is even more challenging for anyone with a long iron or fairway wood in their hands to put it on the green in regulation.

Any shot hit hard and low into this green will find a big bunker in the back. From there, it is a tough task to get up and down for a par since the green slopes downhill. With the wind cutting across the hole, it is almost impossible to have a birdie opportunity.

After a stroke-saving straight short par-5 and a simple par-3, Gleneagles spreads its wings. The 17th hole will rip the heart out for anyone needing a good score. The signature hole on the course is a 465-yard par-4. A large pond will come into play at about 280 yards away, making it impossible to have a short iron in hand for the approach shot.

The key at this hole is to play conservative and to stay dry. For most players it will take three shots to be below the hole, putting for par. If players are able to get home in two, a large oak in the back of this slick, smallish green awaits to hide a ball.

Because Gleneagles Country Club does not have a big designer name on its Resume, it might not be what a lot of people are looking for by way of treachery and amenities. But if a solid round of traditional affordable golf is what the player is in need of, Gleneagles can't be beat.

Gleneagles Country Club
13070 McCarthy Rd.
Lemont, IL 60439
Phone: (630) 257-5466

Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

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