Poplar Creek Country Club

Update: In 2010, Poplar Creek Country Club underwent a huge renovation, and is now known as the “Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club“. The course now measures in at 6,500 yards from the back tees, and is still a par 70. Read more about the renovation over at Chicago Golf Report’s website.

The cold weather has hit the Chicagoland area. I know this first hand because I played in 40 degree weather for my round at Poplar Creek Country Club in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. Actually, if it wasn’t also cloudy and windy, I wouldn’t have minded it so much. When the sun peaked out and the wind stopped, it was actually bearable. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play at Poplar Creek though. Fall rates for golf courses are starting to kick in, and this round cost me only about $30, with cart, compared to the normal $60+ non-resident rate. Anytime I can get a deal like that, I have to take advantage of it.

Poplar Creek Country Club is located approximately 30 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, and sits right next to the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve. The course is owned and operated by the Hoffman Estates Park District. Measuring in at 6,321 yards from the back tees, the course consists of four par-3 and two par-5 holes. Sand traps touch every hole either near the fairway or near the green. Water hazards touch 16 of the holes, 10 of which you have to hit over the water (including all of the par-3 holes). Aside from hitting over and around the water hazards on nearly every hole, the course layout was not too complicated. Only two of holes, both par-4’s, are slight doglegs, and the par-5 holes are under 520 yards from the back tees. Rolling hills and large trees on the sides of the fairways also kept things interesting.

For this round, I met up with Andy and a fellow Chicago golf blogger and ‘Twitterer’, Trent Roberts, from AverageGolfGuy.com and @AverageGolfGuy. Trent knows what he’s doing when it comes to golf; he’s far from a noob. Nearly all of his shots throughout the round were solid and straight, which only supports the fact that’s he a scratch golfer or better. As for Andy and I, we blame the cold weather for bringing out the worst in our game. On a nice summer day, Andy is actually a good golfer (compared to me), shooting bogey or double bogey at worst, and nearly always finishing in the 90’s.

Yes… The cold weather brought out the über-noob in me. I tried to offset it a little by warming up at Poplar Creek’s driving range an hour before our scheduled tee time. I think in that hour, I hit about five solid drives. I also worked on hitting with my 3 and 5 woods, but improved none. I did get some time to work on my chip shots, and I felt pretty confident in those.

When Trent and I checked in at the Pro Shop for our round, we were told that the cold weather forced a frost delay, which put our tee time behind schedule. There were still many groups waiting to play. To kill time, we all hit the driving range [again]. I still had trouble hitting my drives. Once again, I blame the cold weather.

We finally teed off nearly 45 minutes after our original scheduled time. Trent played from the back tees (because he’s just that good), while Andy and I played from the middle tees. As expected, my drive was pretty bad; hit low and ending up about 50 yards ahead of me. For the second shot, I attempted to use my 5 wood, but failed. That club didn’t leave the bag the rest of the round. I switched back to my trusty-ol’ 4 iron for those long fairway shots; I feel pretty confident with my 4 iron. For a couple of the holes, I tried driving with my 3 wood. Sometimes it worked better, and other times it didn’t help at all.

Andy and I were shooting about the same for the first couple of holes. By the time we got to the 8th hole, Andy had all but given up. The rest of his round was going to be just for practice. I tried to stick with my shots, but I found it difficult to keep pace with Trent’s good shots, Andy’s practice shots, and the group behind us (who looked pretty good).

When I finally got near the green, my chip shots were actually halfway decent. I think I’ve actually improved on my chip shots over the last couple of rounds. My putts were mediocre. I 2-putted 11 times and 3-putted the rest. The greens seemed fast on some holes and slow on others, so it was difficult to correctly determine the speed of my shots. While I’m talking about putting, I should also mention Andy’s putt on the 2nd hole. Nearly 50 feet from the hole on the fringe, Andy rolled in a shot that could only be considered “luck”.

Actually, I wish we could have videotaped many of our shots (they could have gotten a lot of traffic on YouTube). On the 2nd hole, a par-3, I teed off with my 5 iron, shooting over water that ended almost 120 yards in front of me. The ball flew high, dropped, hit the steel retention wall next to the water, bounced backwards, flying equally has high, and landed in the middle of the water. Trent and Andy broke out in laughter. I just stood there… shocked.

Then on the 5th hole, I teed off with my 3 wood. I duffed the ball, hitting it low along the ground. The ball hit the tee marker for the front tees, bounced off at a 90 degree angle, hit a wood retention wall next to the front tee boxes, and bounced back on the other side of the tee boxes. Once again, Trent and Andy broke out in laughter. I also started cracking up.

I ended up shooting a 122 (52 over par), a score that I’ve seem to be hovering around the last couple of rounds. When Andy gave up all hope for a decent round on the 8th hole, I was up 3 strokes on him. I don’t even know if Trent was keeping his score, but I’d imagine he got in the 70’s. We finished our round in about 5 or 6 hours… way too slow of a pace for that type of weather.

As we were playing the round, Trent and I talked about course reviews. He mentioned that he thinks Poplar Creek would not be a good course for a beginner, due to amount of water that surrounds the holes, and I completely agree with him. I remember when I first started playing, the shots over water hazards always intimidated me. I’m starting to get used to it more though, since I’m gaining more confidence in my iron shots. Making shots over water is something that every beginner is going to have to overcome anyway, so just stock up on some cheap recycled balls and swing away.

Poplar Creek Country Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 5,905 yards (white tee boxes)
Course par: 70
Course rating/slope: 69.7/131 (white tee boxes)
My score: 122 (52 over par)

Poplar Creek Country Club
1400 Poplar Creek Drive
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169