Wilmette Golf Course: Home for Many Chicagoans

By Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

There is a secret place only Chicago golfers know about. It is not of the best quality or quantity but it is the place golfers north of the city call home. The golf staple is Wilmette Golf Course in Wilmette, Illinois, about 30 minutes directly north of downtown.

The amenities are vast. A large banquet area along with a full golf shop and lounge fill the well-designed property. A refurbished practice facility is the icing on the cake for any traveling golfer looking to hide away for a day. Fifteen covered practice tees have been added along with five target greens to the driving range.

The facility has also added to the length of the range making it a perfect place to test long irons and woods.

An extra practice green has also been added along with an automated range-ball dispenser making Wilmette's golf facility a dream.

The golf course itself is typical of a public course built on only 125 square acres. Like an exaggerated miniature putt-putt golf course, the layout is very tight.

Every hole is on top of at least another making a very forgiving course. This characteristic can help the savvy golfer, as there are many places to check a later pin placement or landing area.

The greens are what bring the crowd. The putting surfaces are in great condition and fast. But if it rains the course becomes slow and very easy to score well on even for the typical golfer.

The fairways are kept in decent shaped with very long rough and well-placed trees. The condition of the bunkers is average at best with no trim lips and inconsistent sand.

The course opens with two of its longest par-4s. The second hole, measuring at 377 yards, is the more challenging of the two with water coming into play on the approach shot.

If players can stay relative straight off the tee then scoring around par to start the round will not be hard.

The third hole is the hardest par-3 on the course. A hole that plays in either direction depending on the wind. The large pond in front of the tee is just a tease but does give the golf something to think about.

An intimidating bunker on the left side tends to catch a lot of shots, especially with the pin on the right side. A par on this hole is something not to bat an eye at.

Two straightforward par-4s follow in which golfers can ration a stroke or two for the toughest four holes on the course.

The 6th hole is the longest and toughest on the course. A par-5 dogleg left is protected well by a ditch on which runs along the right side and big bunker to catch wayward drives on the left. The fairway narrows at the point of the ideal landing area for the second shot.

The third shot is to a narrow green which two bunkers on both sides of the putting surface guard.
The next hole is a par-3 partly over water to a large, sloping green. This all-carry 170-yard hole is brutal with any kind of wind. To make matters worse a shot hit through the green ends up with a uphill pitch to a downhill green.

The last two holes on the front side are par-4s that compliment each other well. The first plays left-to-right while the next hole is right-to-left. Both approach shots are into greens protected by bunkers in both sides.

If players can play the last half of the front nine, the rest of the course lends itself to a good score.

The backside opens much like the front side, with two longer par-4s and a par-3. The next hole, a 404-yard par-4, is the most challenging on the course. The test begins with a drive that must be kept left but out of the left side bunker. If the pin is cut front right, a large bunker comes into play. If not near the hole on the large green, a three putt is in store. Walking away with a par is a battle won.

The 14th and 15th are typical short par-4s with well protect greens. The 16th is the most fun hole on the course. Only 108 yards this hole is all carry over a large pond to a plateau green.

With the water guarding the right side a bunker in the front left catches many bailout shots.

A good shot anywhere on the green lends itself to easy pars.

The course's next hole is a long par-5. The trouble is not in the tee shot but the second shot with water coming into play on the left side and a bunker on the right. If players can land the shot in between the two hazards, the green is inviting with no front bunkers. A birdie here is not out of the question.

The last hole is typical of the entire course. A straight, bland tee shot sets up the second shot to a big green guarded by to traps on either side. Like on the rest of the course, if golfers can keep their ball online then a par is not out of the question.

The best place to unwind from a round of golf at Wilmette Golf Course is a place right down the road called Hackneys at 1241 Harms road. Hackneys is known for great burgers, appetizers and cold beer.

Wilmette Golf Course
Lake Avenue and Harms Road
18-Hole Course
Practice Range and Green

Golf Pro Shop: 847/256-9646
Golf Reservations: 847/256-9777
The Terrace Restaurant: 847/256-9626

Brendan O'Brien, Contributor


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