The Beautiful Golf Courses to Play in Illinois

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On Golf Digest’s 2017 rundown of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses, the state of Illinois had a very respectable seven entries, including one in the top 15, which is also believed to be America’s first 18-hole golf course. With a mix of members’ clubs and public courses, these are 13 of Illinois’ most beautiful, historic, and challenging courses. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.

Cog Hill Golf & Country Club, Lemont


Containing one of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses, Cog Hill Golf & Country Club is 30 miles southwest of Chicago and actually boasts four separate courses (course No.4 being the one to make the list). Course No.4 has long been nicknamed “Dubsdread,” derived from the idea that a “dub,” or poor golfer, should beware.

Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton


Believed to be the oldest 18-hole golf course in North America, Chicago Golf Club was created by C.B. Macdonald in 1894, becoming one of the five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association. It was remodeled in 1923, but it remains a historic and timeless course. Golf Digest ranked it the 14th best in the country in 2017.

Butler National Golf Club, Oak Brook


Butler National was designed by former tour player George Fazio to be a championship course, and it hosted the Western Open tournament from its opening in 1974 until 1990. It has been ranked as high as 21st in the country.

The Glen Club, Glenview


Designed by renowned golf course architect Tom Fazio, golfing at The Glen Club is a picturesque and spectacular experience. Across 75 acres of prairie grass, its 18 holes offer dramatic elevation changes, tricky terrain, and flowing streams and lakes to avoid.

Course Three at Medinah Country Club, Medinah


Northwest of Chicago, Medinah Country Club proudly says of its Course Three that, “even the best players in the world find this course demanding.” It has hosted three Western Opens, three U.S. Opens, two P.G.A. Championships and the 2012 Ryder Cup.

T.P.C. Deere Run, Silvis


Alongside the Rock River on the Iowa border, the T.P.C. Deere Run course promises, “a true test of shot-making skill.” Host of the John Deere Classic, the only P.G.A. Tour event in the region, it’s a course that’s been enjoyed by, and challenged, some of golf’s greatest players. Tee times can be booked online, with discounts available for those willing to book early.

Canyata Golf Club, Marshall


Initially conceived as a three-hole golf course on a section of a family farm near the Indiana border, Canyata Golf Club has wide bent grass fairways, excellent bunkering and large undulating greens. Chances of playing the course are slim though, as membership is restricted to those invited to join by owner Gerald Forsythe.

Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, Galena


Near Galena in northwest Illinois, the Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa has four championship golf courses. The North Course was completed in 1977, followed by the South in 1984, East in 1991 and finally The General, the centerpiece course and undoubtedly one of the best public golf courses in Illinois, in 1997.

Shoreacres, Lake Bluff


Designed by legendary golf course architect Seth Raynor in 1919, Shoreacres uses the interesting topography of its lakeside location to make for an exciting round of golf. Ravines, plateaus, and creeks all become part of the challenge. Enjoy beautiful lake views from the clubhouse after.

Orchard Valley, Aurora


Consistently ranked among the best in the Chicagoland area, the 18-hole, 6,800-yard, par-72 course at Orchard Valley caters for all skill levels. They even have GolfBoards, a mix between a golf cart and skateboard, surely the coolest way to get from one hole to the next.

North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club, Olympia Fields


The famed North Course at Olympia Fields has hosted many top level tournaments, including the 1961 P.G.A. Championship and the 2003 U.S. Open, and will host the 2017 K.P.M.G. Women’s P.G.A. Championship. It’s a famously demanding and challenging course, with bunkers, water hazards, or trees to watch out for.

Thunderhawk Golf Club, Beach Park

Sports Center, Public
In Beach Park near the Wisconsin border, the awesomely-named Thunderhawk Golf Club is a relatively new course, only opening in 1999. But it was designed by noted golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr., and in its short existence it’s been praised by Golf Digest, Golfweek and Golf Magazine. It offers a good balance between playability and challenges.

WeaverRidge Golf Club, Peoria


The course at WeaverRidge Golf Club in Peoria in central Illinois was laid out by famed golf architect partners Hurdzan-Fry, offering generous fairways and large greens for a well-rounded overall experience. It has been named one of the Top 100 Best Places to Play by Golf Digest. Tee times can be arranged up to two weeks in advance.

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