2012 Update: This course is now known as “Evanston-Wilmette Community Golf Course“.

It’s the start of a long holiday weekend, and I’m two days away from my first scramble of the season. So, to try to get a little more comfortable with my irons, I played an executive 18-hole course: Frank Govern Memorial Golf Course. Frank Govern Memorial, opened in 1916 and formerly known as Peter N. Jans Golf Course, is located in Evanston, Illinois, just 15 miles north of Chicago. The course snakes its way along the North Shore Channel, which cuts through the middle of Evanston, touching public parks, residential streets, the CTA Purple Line, and the backyards of neighboring houses. The course starts and finishes right next to the Central stop of the CTA Purple Line, which makes this course easily accessible for those who rely on public transportation.

The course features twelve par-3 and six par-4 holes for a total par of 60 and a length of 3,904 yards from the back tees. A lot of the par-3 holes are pretty long, with the longest being 230 yards from the back tees. Nearly all of the par-3 holes are between 150 and 200 yards. The par-4 holes are between 240 and 340 yards. The fairways are mostly straight, wide on some holes and narrow on others, but are pretty bumpy and hard to establish the beginning of the rough. Nearly all holes have large, thick trees on one side, thanks to the channel the course follows. The arranging of the holes takes you across neighborhood streets, on bridges over the channel, and through a tunnel under the CTA line. Tee boxes are not always fully marked, and the yardage to the pin from the tee box could be way off compared to what is stated on the scorecard. Don’t expect to find yardage markers on the fairways.

Water hazards only consists of the channel, which shouldn’t pose a problem on nearly all holes, with the exception of the 7th hole, a 150 yard par-3, and the 14th hole, a 148 par-3, where you must carry over the channel on both holes. In each case, you have a small area to hit though, as the trees have grown high that any ball hit left or right will surely be batted down. Sand traps are nearly non-existent, and where they do exist, they are poorly maintained. If you play after it rains, expect the sand traps to be water hazards. The greens are fairly large and flat, and are also poorly maintained. Obviously, this course is far from championship quality, but if you don’t mind the maintenance, you’ll find this is a nice course for a great price: less than $25 on weekends. The price for the motorized cart is another issue: it’s $25. Just walk the course.

My round started poorly. I was topping every ball, including my drives, but as I progressed along the front nine, things eventually got better. On the back nine, which includes four of the par-4 holes, my drives were pretty straight and long. I still had a lot of accuracy issues with my irons, but at least I was getting the distance I needed. I tried to focus more on my approach shots and my chip shots, which seemed to be working pretty well for me. Because of that, my putting was also pretty good. I 1-putted six times and only 3-putted once.

With my approach shots, chips, and putting working for me, I was able to mark a halfway decent score. I shot par four times (and set myself up for a birdie a couple times), bogey ten times, double bogey two times, and triple bogey two times (both on the front nine). I ended up shooting an 80 total (20 over par), which broke down to a 43 on the front nine (14 over par) and 37 on the back nine (6 over par).

If you’d like to read another, more journalistic, review on Frank Govern Memorial Golf Course, check out this article over at North by Northwestern, an independent site following news around the Evanston/Northwestern University area.

Frank Govern Memorial Golf Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 3,567 (white tee boxes)
Course par: 60
Course rating/slope: 56.8/83 (white tee boxes)
My score: 80 (20 over par)

Frank Govern Memorial Golf Course
1031 Central Street
Evanston, IL 60201