Waking up not feeling our best (a normal occurrence for Ashley and I on these trips), we started our day by driving Ryan’s Jeep back to his house. Ryan had left his Jeep at our hotel the night before after much prodding about not drinking and driving. Luckily, Ryan’s Jeep had a “find home” button so it was very easy to navigate our way. It was also easy because Chicago morning rush hour is absolutely awful. Going 37 miles north of the city took us almost 3 hours.
Once we had Ryan, it was game on. The banter continued off immediately about Ashley’s field goal prowess. The night before, Ashley had convinced himself that he could make 5 out of 10 field goals from 45 yards. Ryan and I had a plan to test him. Ryan had a kicking tee, cleats and a football ready upon our arrival. Our plan was to stop at a local high school, jump on their field and have Ashley kick 10 field goals. Unfortunately, Ashley didn’t like our plan much. Immediately, he came up with a litany of excuses. Some of them included: having the wrong shoes, not wearing the right clothes, the football not having enough air, his hamstring being tight, being late for our tee time, etc etc. The highlight of the ride was pulling into our second school of the morning (a very high end catholic school near Shoreacres). Upon entering the parking lot, we were stopped by a very large security guard named Joe. Joe asked us what we were doing on the property and we went into our spiel about Ashley’s field goal bravado and how we needed to find some uprights before we played golf next door at Shoreacres. Joe was beside himself with bewilderment. Here he was at 9:15AM with 3 thirty something guys dressed in golf clothes wanting to kick field goals at his $50,000 plus a year Catholic School. After a few minutes, Joe confessed that the field goal uprights had just been taken down the previous summer but that he would have loved to watch our bet. He recommended a high school about 5 minutes down the road which had some uprights we could use. By this point, we were late for our tee time and Ashley was working on his 97th different excuse as to why he couldn’t kick this morning. The field goal bet will have to wait for another top 100 trip that includes Ryan. Overall, the morning ride to Shoreacres will go down as one of the best preludes to a Top 100 golf round ever.
Shoreacres is located in Lake Bluff, Illinois, about 45 minutes north of Chicago. It is located on Lake Michigan which you can see from the clubhouse. The course was designed by Seth Raynor in 1919. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the club professionals who delivered 2 very stern messages. First we were late for our tee time and second there would be absolutely no cell phones or cameras allowed on the course. They actually watched us take our cell phones out of our pockets to place them in the car glove compartment. Very strange arrival to say the least. Definitely, the strangest welcome I have ever experienced at a private golf club. It didn’t help that we were playing unaccompanied and were about an hour late for our tee time. I thought about explaining the field goal bet to the pro but figured we might get thrown off the property.
After hitting a few warm up shots on the smallest driving range ever, we were off. Our 4th today was a good friend of Ryan’s named Jeff. Jeff had arranged our round through his good friend who was a Shoreacres member. We threw up balls and Jeff and I were paired up against Ashley and Ryan. Shoreacres is known for its multitude of ravines and fabulous fast greens. It seems like every hole there is a ravine you must clear off the tee or on your approach. The most memorable ravines being on the 4th, the 11th tee, and the 11th approach shot. My favorite hole was number 12 “The Short Hole”. Twelve is a short par 3 playing 127 yards with an elevated tee box playing down to a large green tucked into a very small valley. Hitting the green is imperative as left is dead on the hill and right is either water or in the forest. Unfortunately, Ashley couldn’t find his original tee ball and drove back to the tee to hit a second. I guess he couldn’t pick up on “the short hole”. Overall, the team bet ended up even while Ashley beat me 2 ways in our side Nassau. I ended up shooting 82 while Ashley shot a respectable 84. After the round, we immediately hopped in our Jeep and drove to Northmoor Country Club.
Northmoor Country Club is located in Highland Park, Illinois and is about a 15 minute drive from Shoreacres. It is also the home course of our great friend Ryan. Northmoor has 27 holes designed by the famous golf course architect Donald Ross. Immediately upon entering the club, we were greeted friendly by everyone. Staff, other members, caddies all seemed to want to meet us and say hello to Ryan. A very welcoming feeling. It is very different playing at a private club with a member as opposed to being an unaccompanied guest. Unaccompanied almost means unwelcome at some places. This is something that Ashley and I have learned very strikingly on this trip. After getting something to eat and drink we headed to the tee. We were joined again by Ryan’s friend Jeff and another member named Rich. We threw balls on the tee and it was decided that Ashley and Jeff would have the “wheel” against the teams combined of Rich, Ryan and Greg. Ashley and Jeff came out on fire and held on down the stretch for a comfortable win in the Nassau games. Both of them played well while Rich was the only leg of the other teams. Unfortunately, Ryan and I were enjoying the cocktails and camaraderie a little more than the golf. Overall, the two nines at Northmoor were outstanding. Course was in great shape and the greens were fast.
After golf, we showered up and headed outside to enjoy Northmoor’s Steak and Cigar Night. During a fabulous dinner, we were rushed inside to avoid a very strong storm which came up and soaked most of us. Once inside we settled into the bar and enjoyed the Jets-Patriots game with our scotches. After dinner, we were offered a ride back into Chicago with Jeff and his driver Iz.
Iz was a great guy and an extremely large African-American. During the ride, it was apparent that our new friend Jeff had been a little over served. He referred to Iz as “his boy Iz” at least 50 times and became definitely the worst DJ I have ever heard. While Ashley and I were sitting in the back seat; Jeff blared the likes of Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry to unfathomable levels for our 40 minute journey into Chicago. Not only were Ashley and I a little worried about our new friend we were also becoming deaf. Once back to our hotel, we were thankful to be alive and very cognizant of the fact that we would never ride home with Jeff again.
Overall, this day will go down as one of my favorite days of all time. It had everything. Great friends, great laughter, great golf and some extremely memorable car rides. Thanks to Ryan for making this day happen! I will always remember it.