Well….. it is extremely fitting that our last day in Chicago would be spent playing at this magnificent golf club. Our friend Ryan D had to pull some major strings to make this happen and we will be eternally grateful for his efforts in helping us pursue our dream to conquer the top 100. I would also like to thank our gracious host Jay. The entire trip to Chicago was a blast and it’s hard to believe it’s over, but we did play 5 rounds of golf(4 top 100), watch 3 NFL games, a US Soccer match and eat more steak than I care to confirm.
A little historical reference of the club to make sure my post does this place a little justice. Chicago Golf Club is located in Wheaton, Illinois and was one of the 5 founding clubs of the USGA in 1894. The course started out with 9 holes in 1892 and was expanded to 18 in 1893 making it the the first full length 18 hole course in the US. Chicago was designed by Charles B. Macdonald who is often referred to as the “Father of American golf course architecture”. He is also responsible for the design of National Golf Links which is ranked number 10 on our list and heralded as one of the best architected courses in the world. Macdonald was a slicer and he designed the layout of each 9 at Chicago to play in a “clockwise” manner to help him stay out of trouble. The Club is recognized as one the 5 most exclusive clubs in the world, with 120 members and an invite only policy for membership. It is a par 70 playing 6,877 yards with a slope of 137 and a course rating of 73.8.
We started off our day in the city once again utilizing Uber as our transport of choice out to Wheaton. We had our driver drop us off in Wheaton at Egg’lectic café for a little breakfast and as a rendezvous point to hook up with Ryan before we headed over to the club. As a food critic I would probably pass on this little eatery if I were ever in Wheaton again but I do have to mention that the service was good.
Our arrival at the club was welcomed by our caddies for the day and our member host Jay. He ushered us in to the mens locker room to put on our shoes and store our valuables prior to heading out to the practice range to hit a few balls. The clubhouse and locker room were very representative of the early 1900’s. The lockers were wooden and solid white with a top and bottom storage area on each . They stretched about 8 feet high and the doors were roughly 3 feet wide. It felt very historic and grand being in this room. The bathroom was classic as well with the tile from floor to ceiling and old porcelain fixtures for the sinks and built in urinals. Unfortunately, I am unable to publish any photo’s of our visit to Chicago in honor of their rules and respect to the members.
After our quick visit to the clubhouse we made our way out to the range to hit a few balls and then prepared to tee off. Our host decided that we would go off on 10 to make sure we managed our pace of play appropriately with other groups that might be out on the course. We threw balls for teams and it was Ryan and I vs Greg and Jay. The theme of the day really had nothing to do with the team game, it was me vs Greg. It was quickly apparent that I was out to grab a medal off of Greg on this fine day. The discussion circled around this multiple times during the round and the question was, “did I have the mental fortitude to hold him off through the end”. Well, I am proud to say that I did and it made it a very memorable round for me and one that I will never forget.
Chicago is a links style golf course and you can see a majority of the course from a lot of the tee boxes. You can also see the massive club house off in the distance with a high flying American flag in front from most points on the course. All of this combined together makes one feel like they are in this giant golf stadium of sorts. One thing that is really cool about Chicago is that all of the holes have their own name which is a descriptor for a characteristic or quality belonging to that specific hole(The Sottish Tradition). I love this about the course because it was a lot easier to connect with the hole and understand the Architects intent. My favorite hole on the day was Punch Bowl which is a long undulating par 4 with a giant punch bowl shaped green…..It was magnificent. Some other favorites were Eden (medium length par 3 into wind), Double Plateau (long par 4 with stair step green) and Redan (long par 3 with trouble everywhere). One of the other special aspects of Chicago golf is that Seth Raynor helped C.B. Macdonald with a redesign in the early 20’s and was able to put his indelible mark on the greens and bunkers. We had just played Shoreacres the day before so it was remarkable to see the similarities in some of the design between the two courses. After the round we enjoyed a nice lunch with our host in the mens locker room and tasted one of their infamous vodka lemonades. Two Thumbs up!
All in All I would say this is one of the most memorable courses we have played so far!