For a rare weekday afternoon round, I met up with Susie to play a quick 9-hole round at The Links at Carillon Golf Course. The Links at Carillon is located in Plainfield, Illinois, approximately 30 miles southwest of Chicago. Opened in 1990, the Links at Carillon consists of three 9-hole courses: the Red course (3,391 yards, par 36), the White course (3,438 yards, par 36), and the Blue course (3,153 yards, par 35). The Blue course is the newest of the three courses, opening in 1996. I played the Red and White courses back in 2011, so to finished off this course, Susie and I played the Blue course. As I mentioned for the previous round at this course, the three 9-hole courses wrap around the Carillon community, which is a really large community. In many cases, you’ll travel a long distance from the green of one hole to the tee box of the next hole. For this reason, I still do not recommend walking, unless you don’t mind taking a long walk between the holes.
As mentioned before, the Blue course measures in at 3,153 yards from the back tees. You’ll find five sets of tees on each of the three courses, but for the Blue course, the tees range from 3,153 yards to 2,434 yards. The Blue course is a par 35 course with three par-3 and two par-5 holes. All of the fairways are relatively wide open and straight; only the water hazards make the holes look less straight. Even though the name of the course is “The Links at Carillon”, the course doesn’t feel like a traditional “links-style” course, as you would see at other places. Many of the holes have medium-sized trees along the sides of the fairways, and the sand traps are not so much “pot bunkers” but rather more closely resemble standard bunkers. Water hazards touch only three of the holes, and if you play your shots right, you won’t need to carry your shots over any water. Bunkers touch nearly all holes, and looked to be well maintained. The greens are average size, and contain some challenging breaks.
I don’t really have much to say about my round, though I actually felt like I played a pretty good round. Still using my driver, my tee shots were either straight or pushed slightly right. My iron and wedge shots were generally good, though I’m still have difficulty with accuracy, and I’m still occasionally chunking my shots. My putting was a bit random, but overall I was pretty happy with it.
I shot a 45 for the round (10 over par), which was one of the better 9-hole rounds of the season. This consisted of two pars, four bogeys, and three double bogeys. I 1-putted four times and 3-putted twice, made three sand shots, and had two penalty shots. I don’t quite know what I was doing differently this round compared to my last couple of rounds. Maybe playing with Susie just brings the best out of me.
The Links at Carillon – Blue Course – Scores & Stats
Blue course length: 2,929 yards (blue tee boxes)
Blue course par: 36
My score: 45 (10 over par)
I finally got a chance to play a course that I’ve been wanting to play for a while: Arrowhead Golf Club. Arrowhead is located in Wheaton, Illinois, approximately 28 miles west of downtown Chicago. The course dates back to 1924, when the original golf course was built as the 18-hole Antlers Club. In 1929, the club was renamed to Arrowhead Golf Club, and in 1967, an additional nine holes were constructed, which makes up today’s West course. In 1982, the Wheaton Park District purchased the property the course sits on. Arrowhead is the only golf facility that is part of the Wheaton Park District.
The club consists of three 9-hole courses, the 3,367 yard South course, the 3,364 yard East course, and the 3,295 yard West course. All three courses are fairly similar in design and layout. They are all 9-hole, par 36 courses with two par-3 and two par-5 holes. There are three sets of tees: the back Blue tees that are around 3,300 yards in length, the middle White tees that are around 3,000 yards, and the forward Red tees that are around 2,500 yards. Overall, with the design and layout, Arrowhead is a really beautiful, well-maintained golf course. The fairways generally open and flat, surrounded by rolling hills and medium-sized trees. The amount of water hazards are about equal throughout the three courses, and you’ll only need to carry your shots over water a couple times throughout the round. You’ll find fairly small bunkers next to the greens on every hole, and you’ll also come across a couple bunkers next the fairways. The undulating greens are generally large and offer some challenging putts.
For this round, I joined my friends Mike and Matt to play the South and the West courses. When looking at my game during the round, this was probably the most random I’ve played in a while. My tee shots were very random, and it didn’t help much that I preferred to use my driver over another more consistent club like my hybrid. I occasionally had a nice, straight drive, but then I’d slice right on the next tee shot, then hook left on the one after that. I actually pulled or hooked left about half of my tee shots, which hitting left is something I hardly ever do. I don’t quite know what I was doing to cause that; likely overcompensating my attempt to prevent a slice. My iron shots and wedge shots were decent, though I’d still occasionally chunk the ball. I’m still lacking in accuracy, normally hitting right, but my distance is typically good. My putting was actually pretty good. I 1-putted six times and only 3-putted once.
I shot a 103 for the round (31 over par, 54 on the South course, 49 on the West course). This consisted of two pars, seven bogeys, five double bogeys, and all others worse. I took one sand shot, and had seven penalty shots (ouch), with most of those penalty shots not because of the water hazards. As for the others in my group, Matt shot a 92 and Mike shot a 105. Like my round at Crystal Tree in August, we played our heavily modified side game of Wolf. Matt won with 11 points, I made 9 points, and Mike made 4 points. As the Wolf, Matt was 2-for-3, I was 2-for-7, and Mike was 0-for-8.
Arrowhead Golf Club – Scores & Stats
South course length: 3,034 yards (white tee boxes)
South course par: 36
West course length: 3,085 yards (white tee boxes)
West course par: 36
South to West course rating/slope: 70.1/127 (white tee boxes)
My score: 103 (31 over par, 54 on South, 49 on West)
So… How do I begin this post? I guess, first of all, I have to say thanks to Beth for setting this all up. During a recent trip to San Diego, with my birthday in sight, I got surprised with a set of rental clubs and some time set aside to play this very popular course. At first, the thought of playing this course seemed out-of-reach, because this vacation wasn’t meant to be a golf vacation. Luckily for me though, I have an awesome wife who sometimes contributes to my golf addiction.
She definitely did her research for this round too. It turns out that greens fees are crazy expensive, as expected for a course that’s an annual stop on the PGA Tour. So, I ended up playing the course on a Monday morning, when greens fees lower to a manageable amount, and the number of waiting single golfers reduces the queue to less than a couple hours. What’s worse is that the price just to make a tee time is more expensive than your average golf course in Chicago. So waiting for an open spot is what people normally do, even if it takes sleeping overnight in the parking lot just to be first in line at daybreak, something that many golfers do on the weekends.
So I arrived at the course around 8:00 AM, and put my name on “the list” to play the South Course. Torrey Pines has two 18-hole courses: the South Course and the North Course. The South Course is the more popular (and more expensive) of the two courses. The tournament on the PGA Tour that stops at Torrey Pines, currently known as The Farmers Insurance Open, previously known as the The Buick Invitational, and originated as the San Diego Open, actually uses both courses at Torrey Pines. For the first 36 holes, they split players between both courses, then the final 36 holes are played on the South Course.
I was anticipating being on “the list” for a bit of time. I was told to come back in one hour, which didn’t really bother me. This gave me plenty of time to hit some balls at the range. I guess you can say I showed up for this round somewhat cold, although I did play a round nine days earlier, but I had a set of clubs that were brand new to me. Well, in actuality, my wife did her research and rented a set of clubs that were very, very close to what I use now… pretty much the same set of clubs, but a year or so newer. Still, a bit of time at the range, I would think at least, would help me prepare for what’s ahead.
The range at Torrey Pines is surprising small. There’s probably around 20-30 hitting bays, and it stays pretty narrow all the way down the range. I don’t think they knew about my drive when they built the range, because all my shots seemed to be magnetically attracted to the netting. The range also has a decent chipping area, and I spent about half of my time at the range working on my high loft flop shots, because why not?
When the hour was up, I went back to see my status on “the list” and check-in for a tee time. I nearly got told to come back in another hour, but luckily they found an open spot in a tee time 50 minutes later. I was in. I spent the remaining time at the putting green, which was so busy you would have thought people showed up to the course just to practice their putting. There were about 2-3 people practicing their putts on each hole, spread out on a putting green large enough to hold around 15 holes (so, do the math).
Eventually my turn on the course came, and I headed to the tee box of the first hole. As expected, I was placed in a foursome, with two of the guys being local San Diego residents, and the other guy a British songwriter/producer (you have likely heard one of his songs). Since Torrey Pines is a municipal course, San Diego residents actually get a great deal to play the course; their greens fees cost about 1/3 the cost for non-residents. That’s like playing Dubsdread at Cog Hill Golf Course for $50 if you’re a Chicago resident. Just think about how busy that golf course would get.
Without going into the standard details like I usually do, the course is pretty amazing (at least, coming from someone who normally plays courses in the Midwest). The course sits next to the coast of the Pacific Open, on top of a cliff that provides constant easterly winds for the neighboring Torrey Pines Gliderport. If you’ve ever watched the PGA tournament at Torrey Pines on television, you’ve likely seen the paragliders or hang glider make an appearance. The winds during my round didn’t pick up until later on the back nine, so I didn’t see them too often throughout my round. Anyway, the course sits up high next to the Pacific Ocean, so the views are beautiful.
It turned out that the other golfers in my group were pretty good, so we ended up playing from the farthest back tees we were allowed to use (the real back Black tees are used by permission only). So, suddenly, I’m playing tees that are normally for 0-5 handicaps. Tees that set the length of the course to 7,051 yards. I’ve never played a course that long. Luckily for me, I rented a cart and the others were walking, which gave me a chance to quickly get to my ball and set up for my next shot.
I really can’t complain about my round, no matter how badly I played. After all, this is Torrey Pines. I actually had a lot of fun enjoying the views and getting a first-hand experience with the tall California roughs. I made some bad shots and I made some good shots. I didn’t walk away with any pars or better, but I did manage to walk away with only losing two golf balls. I ended up shooting a 110 (38 over par, 57 on the front nine, 53 on the back nine), which given the rating/slope of 75.3/137, I’d say that’s pretty good.
So I walked away this round with a many new things: 10 new golf balls, a new golf glove, a new bag of tees, a Torrey Pines golf towel, a Torrey Pines South Course 3D Yardage Book (I go all out), a round and a score I can mark down in my log, a PGA tournament course I can say I played, and, most importantly, an experience I can remember for the rest of my life. Thanks Beth. I love you.
Torrey Pines Golf Course – South Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 7,051 yards (blue tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 75.3/137 (silver tee boxes)
My score: 110 (38 over par)
I’m really hoping to make a round at this course an annual affair. About this time last year, I got a chance to play Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club, a course that is somewhat important to me (I got married next to the tee boxes of the first hole). Luckily enough, our host for the round, John, had such a good time last year that he invited me, Mike, and Chuck back for another round, and we gratefully obliged.
Crystal Tree is located in Orland Park, Illinois, approximately 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago. The course opened in 1989 and was designed by the world-renowned Robert Trent Jones, Jr, who also designed Prairie Landing Golf Club in West Chicago, Illinois, and ThunderHawk Golf Club in Beach Park, Illinois. In the mid 2000′s, a new 55,000 square foot clubhouse was built, and the holes were renumbered to accommodate for the new clubhouse.
The course features four par-3 and four par-5 holes for a total par of 72 at a length of 6,810 yards from the back tees. There are five sets of tees: the back Gold tees, the 6,405 yard Silver tees, the 6,003 yard White tees, the 5,578 yard Blue tees, and the 5,248 yard forward Red tees. The course weaves its way around the Crystal Tree neighborhood, resulting in a course layout where two fairways are rarely next to each other. Overall, this is a fairly hilly course, but the rolling fairways are generally wide and open, and are surrounded by large trees or the houses that are part of the neighborhood. The design and layout of the fairways is what makes this course so beautiful. Water touches nine of the holes, three of which you’ll need to carry your tee shot or your approach shot over if played safely. Large bunkers are found on every hole, either near the greens, near the fairways, or both. The challenging, undulating greens are generally pretty deep and narrow.
I’d like to say I improved my score this year, but that’s not the case. Much like my previous rounds, I kept the driver and fairway wood in the bag again throughout the round, and hit nearly all of my tee shots with my hybrid. My tee shots were still pretty inconsistent, but I was generally hitting straighter shots. The same goes when hitting off the fairway with my hybrid; sometimes the shot would be really good, other times it would be really bad. My iron shots were decent, but I lacked accuracy and typically pushed right. I was still chunking my wedge shots. This could be related to the “no practice swings” routine with my irons, so I’ll probably start making practice swings again. My putting was the most annoying of the entire round, because I found myself barely missing my putts to the left on many occasions.
I shot a 107 for the round (35 over par, 53 on the front nine, 54 on the back nine). This consisted of one par, four bogeys, eight double bogeys, and all others worse. I 1-putted four times and 3-putted three times, and had five sand shots and four penalty shots. I really should work on my driver more, because only teeing off with my hybrid on these longer courses are not helping my score, especially on the par-5 holes.
As for the others in my group, Mike shot a 108 and Chuck shot a 115. In our side game of Wolf (which we heavily modified for our group), Mike won with 11 points, I made 9 points, and Chuck made 8 points. As the Wolf, Mike was 3-for-5, I was 2-for-4, and Chuck was 3-for-9.
Crystal Tree Golf and Country Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,405 yards (silver tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 72.0/136 (silver tee boxes)
My score: 107 (35 over par)
So I’m behind on my blog posts, but I am at least still golfing. A couple months ago, Susie and I, along with a couple of her friends, played a round at The Village Links of Glen Ellyn. The course, which is located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, is approximately 26 miles west of downtown Chicago. You’ll find two courses here: an 18-hole course and a 9-hole course. For this round, we played the 18-hole course.
The course was opened in 1967 as a 18-hole course. In 1975, another 9 holes (called the “Link-Up Nine”) were added on, and had a completely different entrance. In 1977, the “Link-Up Nine” and the back nine of the 18-hole course combined to make the 18-hole you see today, while the original front nine became the 9-hole course. In 2003, the 18-hole course was renovated, which resulted in a renumbering of holes, and an increase in length to 7,208 yards.
The course actually has a lot more history than that, though. In 1980, the course hosted the qualifying rounds for the Western Open, and continued to host for nearly every year up to 2006, when the Western Open turned into the BMW Championship that we are all familiar with today.
The 18-hole course features the standard four par-3 and four par-5 holes for a total par of 72 at a length of 7,208 yards from the back tees. There are five sets of tees: the back Black tees, the 6,770 yard Blue tees, the 6,382 yard White tees, the 6,004 Gold tees, and the 5,439 yard forward Red tees. This is not a true “links-style” course, but rather it’s a standard traditional course. The fairways have a great design that nearly require “target golf” on your shots; you’ll need to be precise with your accuracy and distance in order to avoid a water hazard or a bunker. Overall, though, the fairways are generally open, flat, and straight. Water hazards touch 14 of the holes, including the 18th hole (a 422 yard par-4) where the fairway wraps around a small pond, requiring you to make a decision where to place your tee shot. If you play your shots correctly, you’ll only need to carry water over two or three hazards, depending on which tee box you are playing. Bunkers are found on every hole, either near the landing area of the fairways, around the green, or both. The greens are fairly large with some challenging breaks, and played a little slow during my round.
I felt like I played a decent round, but I know I could have scored better. My tee shots were a bit random, but still mostly pushing right. Similar to my previous rounds, I teed off mostly with my fairway wood or my hybrid. Since I was struggling to keep my tee shots consistent on the back nine, I did pull out the driver for two holes, and had a couple decent tee shots. My iron shots were generally good, and I wasn’t chunking the ball nearly as often. I tried the same routine of not making any practice swings, and it seemed to help. Adversely, I was chunking my shots with my wedges, which got really annoying throughout the round. My putting was also pretty bad. I think if my wedge shots and my putting was better, I would have easily shot in the low 90’s.
I ended up shooting a 102 (30 over par, 49 on the front nine, 53 on the back nine), which consisted of one par, eight bogeys, five double bogeys, and all others worse. I 1-putted once and 3-putted four times, along with three sand shots and two penalty shots. I really need to work on making my tee shots more accurate, using the driver more, and chunking less with my irons.
The Village Links of Glen Ellyn – 18-hole Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,382 yards (white tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 71.2/130 (white tee boxes)
My score: 102 (30 over par)