Highland Park Country Club: Time to Get Back to the Basics

By Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

Highland Park, Ill. - The name of the course Highland Park Country Club might scare players off thinking that it is private but the recently publicly open course is a good place to entertain clients or play with friends. Fully equipped with tennis courts a practice range and putting surface it is easy to get lost in the amenities.

Billed as a golf learning center with plenty of lesson options available, Highland Park Country Club is a wonderful place to get the kinks out.

The course itself is 35-years-old and is a traditional layout for the Midwest. Bunkers and water come into play on most shots with the fairways being well manicured and the greens being large and quick.

The rough is long and will make most players take an extra club. The standard three sets of tees are in play for any level of golfer to enjoy their experience.

The course opens long with a straight par-5 with bunkers on both sides of the fairway. The key to this 539-yard hole is to rip the second shot down the right side in which the overhanging tree covering the green on the left will not come into play.

Bunkers protect the middle left and front right of this flat green. The idea is to put the ball on the same quarter as the pin and a birdie or par is assured.

Highland Park continues with two short par -4s. The 4th hole is a neat, long par-4 at 403 yards. Swamp land runs down the right side which is not viewable off the tee. A bunker and ridges on the left side catches drives at 250 yards.

A big green is elevated with bunkers protecting the front and back. With a well-struck drive and a decent approach par is not out of the question.

The 5th hole is the course's first par-3. It is the second easiest hole on the course measuring 111 yards with a pond in-between the tee box and green. It is not all carry but any bad shot will be wet.

A two-tier green awaits making it important to put a short iron on the same side of the pin. The bail out area is long with a ridge protecting the back side so if player fears the water they should put an extra stick in there hands and swing away. If the pin is short this hole is perfect to gain a stroke on the course.

The course finishes the front side like it started, with a long, straight par-5. Measuring 563 yards with a creek coming into play along the front of the green, this hole is almost impossible to get home in two shots. A large trap comes into play down the right side so long hitters should aim toward the left.

The biggest green on the course awaits with two traps in the front and one in the back. With the green being so large, an approach which appears to be good still may have a fifty foot putt waiting.

The back side opens with a long par-4 and the most challenging par-3 on the course. A 164-yard hole which plays longer with water down the right side. A large bunker protects short right of the small green.

Anything long goes onto a large ridge making the player hit a tough downhill chip with the water still in play in the front of the green.

The 12th hole is the shortest par-4 on the course. Measuring 297 yards most of the bunkers in front of the green come into play off the tee. A large pond runs along the right side with a creek on the left.

Golfers should take a mid iron out and place it in the center of the fairway. The green is elevated and small making a accurate approach of the up-most importance. This hole makes it apparent that the architects decided to make the most out of the lack of space.

The 16th hole is one of the most challenging in the area. A 403-yard par-4 asks the golfer to carry their drive over a large pond with six willows blocking shots from cutting the hole short.

The best drive on this hole can only be 220 yard with a long second shot waiting. Because of the willows along the right side throwing a shadow onto the fairway and green it is challenging to get a feel of the distance for the approach to this the green. Any shot left of the putting surface finds bunkers, making it imperative for two great golf shots if a late birdie is needed.

The 17th is let-up hole which gives players a breather. A par-4 with the length being 327 yards, this hole is where golfers can gain a stroke or two. Like the finishing holes on the front side, the back side is well balanced.
This is important since the key for most amateurs is to feel as if they have a chance to score well after a tough stretch of golf.

The hard part after the easy 17th is to gear up for the long 18th. The course finishes with a dogleg left par-5, measuring 571 yards. This hole is like the ninth in that it is tough to get home in two and provides a large green.

Water comes into play on arrant second shots with a large pond on the right. If players can hit a bomb of a drive and avoid the water on the second shot, there is no reason not to expect a birdie putt on the last green in the round.

Highland Park Country Club is located about five minutes east of Highway 41 in Highland Park. It is located about 45 minutes north of the city and an hour from O'Hare airport. The suburb of Highland Park offers plenty of good restaurants while Highwood, the next suburb north, is known for its great Italian eateries.

Highland Park Country Club
1201 Park Avenue West
Highland Park, Ill.

Brendan O'Brien, Contributor

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