Ashley and I arrived in Chicago on our 3rd trip to play America’s Top 100 Golf Courses. On this trip we relied on our good friend Ryan to play “host”. There are 6 Top 100 Golf Courses in Chicago. They are Chicago GC #17, Medinah CC #23, Butler National #54, Rich Harvest #58, Olympia Fields #60 and Shoreacres #92. It was always our desire to play 4 of the 6 courses this week. We arrived Monday and left Friday night. 4 nights and 4 days in Chicago!
Our first round was Tuesday morning at Butler National. I had arranged for us to have an unaccompanied foursome through Josh’s boss. Josh is a great friend of mine from college who had recently moved to Chicago. He had been visiting Las Vegas earlier in the year and mentioned that he could help us get on a course or two In Chicago.. Within a week he had confirmed a Butler foursome for us. Thanks Josh and Josh’s Boss!
Butler National was designed by George Fazio in 1974 with a later update by Tom Fazio. It’s a male only club with absolutely no exceptions. Butler National shares an entrance with Oak Brook Golf Course. You drive through the parking lot of Oak Brook to find a private driveway that leads you back to Butler National. Photo below.
After getting settled into our lockers we decided to have breakfast and wait for Ryan and Dan. Dan is a good friend of mine from Las Vegas who recently moved to Chicago. He is also an excellent golfer who plays around scratch or better. The highlight (or lowlight depending how you look at it) of breakfast was Ryan’s late entrance and story about his wife separating her shoulder. I immediately nominated him for husband of the year after hearing the story of how his wife separated her shoulder while he was driving to Butler. She needed to go to the hospital but Ryan wasn’t going to turn around and miss his Butler tee time.. What commitment!! The story has many more details but this blog is supposed to be about golf.
We get to the tee and decide to play the Tournament Tees. The “Tournament” tees play from 6,989 and provided an excellent challenge. We all knew that Butler National is regarded as the toughest course in Illinois and saw no need playing from the “Butler” tees at 7,523 yards. After throwing balls to determine the teams (Greg and Ryan versus Ashley and Dan), we were ready to play!
Here’s a picture of the 4 of us on the 5th tee. A beautiful 179 yard par 3 over water. In order left to right: Dan, Greg, Ashley and Ryan.
Overall, Butler is a very demanding golf course which requires length and precision. There is a lot of water and errant shots seem to always cost strokes. That is definitely a common trait of the top 100 courses! My favorite holes were the collection of holes around the main central lake 5, 6, 13,14 and 18. Below is a picture of Ashley and I on the 13th tee.
Below is a picture of the approach shot on 18. A fantastic finishing par 4 playing 444 yards. The clubhouse is up on the right.
Ryan and I ended up winning the Nassau 4 ways. It helped that Ryan shot 85 playing as an 8 while Ashley shot 105 as a 12. Ashley didn’t make a par all day. The best player of the day was clearly Dan who carded an easy 77. Dan’s drives were massive and several times the caddies said they hadn’t seen anyone hit it that far on a particular hole. Unfortunately, Dan’s wedge game was a little off or he could have easily shot around par. I ended up shooting 81.
After having lunch in the gorgeous Butler Clubhouse, we headed to Naperville with Dan to play White Eagle CC and have dinner. Naperville is a suburb about 40 miles west of Chicago. We only played 9 holes at White Eagle due to the heat, wind and poor golf games. Ashley ended up not making a par the whole day. Fortunately, he made a fabulous birdie on number 9 at White Eagle to salvage some dignity. For the 9 holes from the White Eagle “Tips”, Dan shot 39, Greg shot 42 and Ashley 47.
After golf, we headed over to Dan’s house to shower up and see the family. The day was capped off with a great dinner at Hugo Frog House in downtown Naperville. A fabulous first day in Chicago!