Golf Course Review: Medinah Country Club, Course No. 3 (IL)

Medinah CC No. 3 Course Rankings:
Golf Digest: #48 US, #3 Illinois
GolfWeek: #85 Classic #44 US
Architect: Tom Bendelow; Rees Jones

This past May, I had the good fortune of being invited to the unveiling of Rees Jones’ newly renovated Course Two at Medinah Country Club. Since the course was not yet ready to be played, we were treated to a round on a championship course that I’ve dreamed of playing for years: Medinah No. 3.

Most recently the site of the 2012 Ryder Cup, No. 3 has played host to a plethora of golf championships, including that Ryder Cup, three Western Opens (now the BMW Championship), the 1988 US Senior Open, three US Opens (1949, 1975, 1990) and two PGA Championships (1999, 2006).

Currently ranked the 48th best golf course in the country (public or private), No. 3 has a heritage that is unmatched in the Midwest.

The course starts out with a relatively straight-forward par four. Tee it high and let it fly – anything that flies the hill should get a good roll forward down the hill, leaving a short iron or wedge in.

From the first green on, players are introduced to some terrific Tom Bendelow designed greens. The back-right pin location we had moved a ton.


Hole 1: Par 4 (433/383/357/357)


Hole 1: Par 4 (433/383/357/357)

The first in a fabulous set of par threes, the second hole plays entirely over water. While all the tee boxes are adjacent to the lake, the required carry and especially the angle in changes dramatically depending on tees.

Continue reading

Golf Course Review: The Chicago Highlands Club (IL)

Packers vs. Bears. Brewers vs. Cubs. Badgers vs. Fighting Illini. Tollways and terrible traffic vs. free highways and backroads.

Wisconsin and Illinois folks don’t always get along, but we do all love golf.

For the past twenty years, golf writers from Wisconsin have contested golf writers from Illinois in the annual “Writer’s Cup,” a 27-hole Ryder Cup style tournament that pits golf media from each state against one another.

Last year’s tournament was at Blackwolf Run’s River course, and was won by team Illinois. The venue switches between Wisconsin and Illinois each year, and team captains Gary D’Amato (Wisconsin) and Teddy Greenstein (Illinois) work feverishly to get their best twelve on the course in hopes of bringing home the Reid Hanley Trophy.

Illinois would sweep all but one of the morning best ball matches, and dominated the majority of the others during yesterday’s tournament, but a great time was had by all at the Chicago Highlands Club in Westchester, Illinois.

Practice putting green at Chicago Highlands CC

The main practice green at the Chicago Highlands Club

Practice range at Chicago Highlands CC

Excellent driving range facility at the Chicago Highlands Club

2015's 20th Annual Wisconsin vs. Illinois Writer's Cup at Chicago Highlands Country Club in Westchester, IL

2015’s 20th Annual Wisconsin vs. Illinois Writer’s Cup at the Chicago Highlands Club in Westchester, IL

Team Wisconsin in red, Team Illinois in blue

Team Wisconsin in red, Team Illinois in blue

GolfWeek’s number 149-ranked modern golf course in the country, the Arthur Hills designed Chicago Highlands Club opened to rave reviews in 2009 and has continued to grow in both membership and facilities.

A true family-oriented club, Chicago Highlands has one of the best practice facilities I have ever seen, complete with a kid’s course and free lessons to children, basketball and tennis courts, and in the winter cross country skiing, sledding (ninth hole, I’m assuming?) and an ice rink.

The clubhouse is very nice, but on the smaller side. A new one is slated to open in the coming years, although the facility now used will I am sure stay busy especially in the summer time to take advantage of their wonderful pool and outdoor lounging areas.

Pool area at the Chicago Highlands Club

Pool area at the Chicago Highlands Club

With temperatures in the low to mid nineties for our round, I was salivating at the thought of spending some time around there. I wish my club had that!

Overall, I was very impressed with the Chicago Highlands Club, as well as with the level of service and food and beverage.

The course is in spectacular condition, too. I know that pictures are not supposed to be taken in the locker room area, but I just had to get one of this:

"Today's Stimp Meter Reading: 13'1" at 7:00 AM"

“Today’s Stimp Meter Reading @ 7:00 AM 13’1″”

You won’t find many faster green speeds than at Chicago Highlands, and the same goes for the course. It plays fast and furious, with great run-out and added emphasis on hitting the right spots on greens.

The first hole at Chicago Highlands is a shorter par four that shares a fairway with the eighteenth, making the fairway area one of the widest around. While there is a ton of room to miss right, there is fescue left and the right side drops to the eighteenth fairway that is well below the first hole’s green.

The fairway on one slopes toward the right side, and especially toward the traps found on that side. A drive down the left side of the fairway leaves the best, most visible approach.

Hole 1: Par 4 (461/433/397/371/348/320)

Hole 1: Par 4 (461/433/397/371/348/320)

The second hole looks really long from the tee, but plays downhill the whole way. The fairway slants toward the right, and will lead to many shots down the right side ending up in the fescue.

Unlike Erin Hills (for example), most of the fescue at Chicago Highlands is playable, and most balls are findable.

The hole location on two for our tournament was one of the most diabolical on the entire course: Back-left just past a ridge on the left side.

Maybe it is because the entire area is so highly contoured, but even when standing back from the green on different sides I still could not see how some putts went the directions they did!

For example, approaches from the right side went way right and off the green in back. Approaches from off the back of the green rolled hard left, and overall it was very confusing. This is a track that can provide a tremendous home course advantage, obviously!

Hole 2: Par 4 (484/462/434/409/380/328)

Hole 2: Par 4 (484/462/434/409/380/328)

Hole 2: Par 4 (484/462/434/409/380/328)

Hole 2: Par 4 (484/462/434/409/380/328)

Hole 2: Par 4 (484/462/434/409/380/328)

Hole 2: Par 4 (484/462/434/409/380/328)

Continue reading