When people think of the greatest cities to visit for a spectacular round of golf, Chicago’s oftentimes not even on the list. That’s a terrible shame since Chicago’s not only home to the Bears and the Cubs, but also some of the country’s best public golf courses. In fact, it’s known as the public-golf capitol of the U.S. because it boasts more quality courses open to anyone than any other city in the country!
We have compiled a list of what we feel are the top public courses in the greater Chicagoland area. Each of the selections on this list present a unique challenge to players, and offer a wide variety of amenities and incentives designed to enhance your experience on and off the links. So whether you’re a scratch golfer, or simply looking to spend a day outdoors, there’s a course on this list for you!
18231 Park Ave.
Homewood, IL 60430
Consistently found in the Top Course lists for Illinois, Ravisloe Country Club is one of the new additions to the Chicagoland public golf scene. Ravisloe was once a private club before Dr. Gendreau, a well-respected local veterinarian, purchased the property and reopened it to the general public. The course is a Theodore Moreau – James Foulis design with renovations performed by renowned golf architect Donald Ross.
The course is a 6,302-yard par 70 championship layout that GolfAdvisor ranks as the 20th best course in the nation during the months of April, May, and June. They offer “Senior Citizen Specials” every Tuesday where you can play 18-holes with a cart for $40 or walk the course for $35. The pricing is very good for the area, and the amenities found off the course are top-notch as well. Enjoy your round of golf and check out the Bunker Bar & Grill for a bite to eat or a cold drink.
2411 West Illinois Ave.
Aurora, IL 60506
Orchard Valley is well-known in the area for the amazing diversity of hazards included in the course design. These hazards come into play on every hole of the 6,800-yard par 72 championship course making Orchard Valley one of the area’s most strategic courses to play. The Ken Kavanaugh design has been consistently rated among the 10 best public courses in Illinois. Holes here vary in length from a short par 3 measuring 163 yards to a monster par 5 that’s 551 yards from tee to green.
Orchard Valley provides a challenging round to any level of golfer, and seems to play a little differently every time you tee up there. It’s one of the reasons golfers keep coming back. There is a spacious clubhouse boasting a world-class golf shop and the Orchard Valley Grill and Pub where visitors can have a cocktail, a steak, or both after their round. Seniors can play 18 holes on the weekdays for $39 and on the weekends for $59 with carts being an additional $9.
24355 West Bluff Road
Channahon, IL 60410
Most people who have never been to the area around Heritage Bluffs would consider the word “bluffs” to be a purely dramatic addition to the club name. Those people would be wrong. Illinois is a generally flat state in terms of elevation, but Heritage Bluffs is definitely not a flat course. Situated on a rolling, tumbling stretch of land some 30 miles southwest of Chicago, this course has natural rock formations throughout its 7,100-yard par 72 championship layout. The course is beautifully maintained and gives players a feeling of being part of the natural world instead of simply passing through it.
With four tee boxes, this course can be played as easily by a first-timer as it can be by a seasoned pro. The course is tailored to be as challenging as it is accessible, and any golfer will tell you that’s one of the most difficult things to accomplish when designing a course. Golf Digest gives Heritage Bluffs a 4-Star rating for this very reason. Seniors can play Monday and Tuesday for $35 and Wednesday through Friday for $40. Both of those prices include the cart fee. You can also enjoy great food and drinks with daily specials in Heritage Bluffs restaurant, The Grille Room.
One Pine Meadow Lane
Mundelein, IL 60060
With a secluded feeling and beautiful landscaping, Pine Meadow Golf Club rests on a gorgeous piece of land just northwest of the city. The 7,238-yard layout is a challenge for any golfer with its blue spruce-lined fairways and deep sand traps. One of the bonuses of playing Pine Meadow is how “away from it all” you feel. There’s not a home or road in sight when you’re on the course. The cost of playing 18-holes at Pine Meadow ranges widely, but Senior Day is Thursday where you can walk the course for $51 or get a cart for $16 more.
There’s another benefit to visiting Pine Meadows, aside from the great golf and the Pine Meadow Grill, and it may be worth just as much as the golfing experience – the practice facility. Considered to be the best of its kind anywhere in the region, the Pine Meadow practice facility attracts players and PGA Tour professionals from all over the area. It’s a common destination for any serious golfer in Chicago.
1 Pete Dye Drive
Lemont, IL 60439
If you’re looking for a challenging course in the Chicago area, then look no further than Ruffled Feathers Golf Club in Lemont. Designed by Pete Dye, and still his only design in the state, it’s no surprise that the course is so tough. With near-perfect conditioning and unforgettable par 3s, Ruffled Feathers is an amazing find amid the hum-drum public courses nearby.
The challenges begin at the very first hole where you’ll be asked to carry your shot 100 yards over water to a blind fairway. After that, it’s a flurry of doglegs, elevated tee boxes, unexpected twists, and unbelievable turns until you reach No. 11 – an island green that you’ll swear is from the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Senior rates are valid Monday through Friday and are $39.95 while weekends rates range from $54.95 to $74.95, dependent upon your chosen tee time. Don’t forget to stop by the Feathers Bar & Grill for a delicious meal and a refreshing beverage.
2325 Longest Drive
West Chicago, IL 60185
Prairie Landing, a 6,950-yard par 72 American links layout designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., is one of only 25 Illinois courses to receive 4.5-Stars from Golf Digest. Additionally, it is consistently rated as one of the “Best Places to Play” in golfing publications. With dipping fairways and winds that kick up from nowhere, Prairie Landing can present a different challenge every single day. For many golfers, this is the kind of course you live to play day in and day out, just to see how well you can adapt to the changing conditions.
Prairie Landing offers a different experience than most of the courses in the area. The front nine and back nine are as different as night and day. While the front nine is open and rolling, the back nine is tree-lined and full of wildlife. It even has an old train track running parallel to some of the holes giving it a very “British Isles” feel. The senior rate Monday through Friday from 7:00 to 11:00am is $42.50, including cart fee. Stop into McChesney’s Pub & Grill before or after your round for delicious food, welcoming staff, and cold beverages.
39700 N Lewis Ave.
Beach Park, IL 60099
Thunderhawk Golf Club is one of those rare public courses that screams private club. Owned and operated by the Lake County, Illinois Forest Preserve District, the course is magnificently maintained and ingeniously designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The 7,031-yard par 72 layout is a course for any golf lover, but for par 5 aficionados it’s especially memorable. You’ll know what we mean when you tee up on No. 18 and see the spectacular green complex snuggled right up to the beautiful clubhouse.
Located about 45 minutes north of the Loop in the Lake County Forest Preserve, Thunderhawk’s tee boxes, fairways, and greens wind through forest, prairie, and marshland in Illinois’ first ever Audobon Signature-Certified public course. Seniors can play 18-holes for $42 walking or $60 with a cart. Do yourself a favor and have a bite to eat at the Thunderhawk Grill. You won’t be disappointed!
12294 Archer Ave.
Lemont, IL 60439
The Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Lemont features four beautiful courses any golfer would be thrilled to play. Yet, for this list we’re going to focus on the crown jewel of the club – the No. 4 Course known as Dubsdread. The course is a 7,554-yard par 71 classic layout designed by Dick Wilson and Joe Lee with a renovation by renowned golf architect Rees Jones in 2008.
Dubsdread was the home of the BMW Championship and the Western Open for many years. There is a real thrill to playing a course so many pros have played and a real challenge as well; the course boasts more than 100 bunkers. This course has received its share of accolades over the years including “No. 1 Course to Play in Illinois” from GolfWeek and “10 Best Two-Course Combinations in the World” from Links Magazine.
Rates for the No. 4 Course at Cog Hill are the highest on our list. Weekdays and weekends the rate is $155 for 18 holes including cart, but you can save a few dollars by playing after 4:00pm. That’s when they switch to their twilight rates, which are $80 for both weekdays and weekends. Caddies are also available from June through August and on weekends in April, May, September, and October. Remember to check out the daily Clubhouse Menu to see what delicious offerings they have during your visit.
11001 S Doty Ave. East
Chicago, IL 60628
Most people, even those who have lived in Chicago for years, have no idea that a stunning two-course venue, Harborside International Golf Center, sits within the city limits – just minutes from the Loop! Though it has two courses on offer, and ranks as the only facility in Illinois to have two of GolfWeek’s “Best Courses to Play in Illinois”, Harborside International makes the list for its extremely challenging 7,164-yard par 72 Port Course, and gets a bonus for having the best origin story of all of Chicago’s great golf courses.
Designed by Dick Nugent in the tradition of Scottish and English seaside courses, Harborside’s Port Course was compared by two-time Masters Champion Ben Crenshaw to Muirfield in Scotland, home to several Open Championships. Wait until you see the 216-yard par 3 13th hole with its signature grass anchor situated in the center of a massive bunker fronting the green. It’s a sight to see for any Chicago golfer, and a very challenging make for your tee shot.
The Port Course offers Senior Rates, including cart, of $52 before 2:00pm and $39 from 2:00 until final start. Early mornings are the best time to go to get the most from the beautiful Chicago skyline view that backs the entire course. The sun on the skyscrapers and the water are truly a sight to behold. Do not miss the Pier 37 restaurant offering Chicago restaurateur-extraordinaire Phil Stefani’s winning creations!
2901 West Lake Ave.
Glenview IL 60026
The Glen Club in Glenview tops the list as the best public golf course in Chicago. To earn that lofty spot, a club has to offer incredible golf, incredible facilities, incredible staff, and incredible food. Well, the Glen Club has them all in abundance. In fact, the Glen Club has the best clubhouse in all of Illinois! Spanning 48,000 square feet, it houses a fantastic golf shop, an amazing grill – The Glen Club Grill with Chef Ron Fischer, and a superb practice facility.
Designed by world-famous golf architect Tom Fazio, Glen Club is a challenging 7,149-yard par 72 near-perfect layout. All of the par 3s face a different compass point offering expanded views of the entire course, and the par 5s are not only intimidatingly large but contain plenty of bailout regions making them actually playable in 5 shots for the average golfer. From perched greens fronted by bunkers to peninsula greens with water on all sides, Mr. Fazio pulled out all the stops in his design.
The Glen Club is the only course in U.S. history to be named (one of?) to the three most prestigious “Top 10 New Course Lists” published by Golf Digest, Golf Magazine, and Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated went so far as to say that the Glen Club has, “the best par 3s in the state”. Rates for tee times vary greatly depending upon when you wish to play, how many players in your group, how early you book your time, etc. Due to its reputation in the area, tee times are often difficult to come by, so do yourself a favor and plan your outing well in advance.
There you have it; a complete listing of the best public courses to play in the greater Chicago area. Now it’s time for you to plan your first trip, dust off your clubs, and see if you can shoot under par. Good luck and good golfing!