Archive for April 2011

Oak Meadows Golf Club

Posted by cjsharp1 on April 23, 2011 in Courses 3 Comments

Once again, another weekend of April golf, but this time, it’s a damp one. For this round, I played at Oak Meadows Golf Club in Addison, Illinois. Oak Meadows, located approximately 20 miles northwest of Chicago, is owned by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, which also owns Green Meadows Golf Club (a 9-hole course) in Westmont and Maple Meadows Golf Club (an 18-hole and 9-hole course) in Wood Dale. I played Maple Meadows in October of 2009. Of the three golf courses owned by DuPage Forest Preserve, Oak Meadows is the oldest course, opening in 1923. The course was originally built as the private Elmhurst Country Club, which hosted the 1941 Chicago Open where Ben Hogan won over Sam Snead. In February of 2009, a fire gutted the main clubhouse, and only until recently, work has started to demolish the clubhouse, in order to build a new one.

The course features three par-3 holes and two par-5 holes for a total par of 71 at a length of 6,718 yards from the back tees. The fairways are mostly straight and open, with some occasional rolling hills, and are surrounded by large trees. Water hazards touch eight of the holes, six of which you must carry over. For the 16th hole, a 129 yard par-3, water surrounds all side of the green, turning it into somewhat of an island green, but there is plenty of space between the green and the water if you happen to mishit your shot. Sand traps are found on all holes, mostly around the greens. The greens are pretty open and flat. A couple of the greens looked like they had some challenging breaks, but they didn’t play that way.

As I first mentioned, the course was very wet, due to a couple days of rain during the week. Many areas of the course were flooded, creating even more water hazards. For the 3rd hole, a 371 yard par-4, a large body of water flooded the middle of the fairway, right where the 150 yard stake sits. Because of this, the tee boxes were moved in front of the water, turning the hole into a par-3. So technically, the course was a par 70. Even though the water level on the real water hazards were higher than normal, it didn’t seem like the course had proper drainage. So if you play the course after a couple days of rain, expect there to be more water hazards than normal.

I played this round with Felix, another member of the Windy City Golf League. As expected, Felix and I were around the same skill level, so the round turned out to be pretty fun. Before we teed-off, another gentlemen joined us (but I can’t remember his name). He was pretty good, and definitely had a handicap in the single digits. Luckily, he was very patient with Felix and I, which was nice.

I actually played better this weekend compared to the rest of my April rounds. My drives were random; sometimes slicing right, sometimes pushing left, and sometimes right in the middle of the fairway. I did have a couple duffed drives, and I think I know exactly what I was doing. Early in the round, I was noticing I was leaning back after hitting the ball, and that led to some of the randomness. Later in the round, I tried to focus on following through the correct way, and I noticed my drives improved. My iron shots were better. I didn’t top the ball as much, and I made some solid contact, even though I was a little inaccurate with my shots. I thought my chipping and approach shots were also better, and I was starting to get comfortable with my wedges. My putting was also random. I don’t think I was doing anything terribly wrong. I just wasn’t sinking putts. I ended up 1-putting once and 3-putting five times.

I ended up shooting a 109 (39 over par, since it was a par 70), which broke down to a 50 on the front nine and a 59 on the back nine. Throughout the round, I hit one par, four bogeys, six double-bogeys, and seven others. I actually had a chance to get par on a couple more holes, but I messed it up by either not getting the ball out of the sand or 3-putting. Felix shot a 115 (53 on the front nine, 62 on the back nine), so it was a fun, competitive round for both of us.

Oak Meadows Golf Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,307 yards (white tee boxes)
Course par: 71 (70 due to weather)
Course rating/slope: 70.0/123 (white tee boxes)
My score: 109 (39 over par)

Oak Meadows Golf Club
900 North Wood Dale Road
Addison, IL 60101

Eaglewood Resort & Spa Golf Course

Posted by cjsharp1 on April 22, 2011 in Courses 0 Comments

Another weekend of chilly, wet April golf brings me to the golf course at Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, Illinois, located approximately 25 miles northwest of Chicago. The course, which opened in 1932, features four par-3 and four par-5 holes for a total par of 72 at a length of 6,017 yards from the back tees. The fairways are formed from rolling hills, surrounded by large trees, and are mostly straight, with the exception of 16th hole, a 311 yard par-4, that has a left-to-right sloped fairway before a left dogleg. Water touches six of the holes, including the 6th hole, a 201 yard par-3, and the 7th hole, a 476 yard par-5, where you must carry over a small creek. The largest body of water touches the left edges of the 7th hole and the 10th hole, a 538 yard par-5. Sand traps are found on every hole, both near the fairways and the greens. The greens are challenging, with consistent slopes and noticeable breaks. All the greens look well maintained, with the exception of the the 13th hole, a 91 yard par-3 (yes… 91 yards… from the back tees), which was probably still healing after the winter.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I joined the Windy City Golf League, and this weekend was the first weekend of season play. So for this round, I joined two members of my flight in the league, Don and Phil, and one of Phil’s acquaintances, Travis. I was really looking forward to the round. Over the last week, I got a chance to go to the driving range, and I started to feel comfortable and confident with my shots. Also, since two of the people in the round were part of the league, I knew that they would be around my skill level.

I started the round very strongly. Although my drives were still slightly slicing or pushing right, I was able to keep my shots in play, and I was making solid contact with my irons. Through the first six holes, I looked as if I was on track to break 100. Then… I got to the 7th hole, the 476 yard par-5 with the small water hazard in front of the tee box. I duffed my drive, sending it straight into the water. I stepped away from the tee box, letting the rest of the people in my group tee off, then I took another drive, and did the exact same thing. Luckily for the next shot, they allowed me to drop in front of the water. After those two drives, my game went downhill. I ended up shooting double bogey or worse the rest of the round.

I think I ended up reverting to my old ways after the end of the 6th hole. I was duffing my drives, topping the ball a lot, and making inaccurate shots. My putting was making things worse. I 3-putted nine times, and only 1-putted once.

I ended up shooting a 122 (50 over par), which broke down to a 57 on the front nine and a 65 on the back nine. Through the first 6 holes, I had two pars, and was only 8 over par. I consistently shot 6’s, 7’s and 8’s on the back nine, which was all double bogey or worse. Don and Phil ended up shooting about the same, which was around 100. I wasn’t really keeping track of how Travis played.

I don’t have much more to say about this round. I really enjoyed the course, and I would love to come back and play it again. I wish I could have played a little better, but that’s how things go sometimes.

Eaglewood Resort & Spa – Scores & Stats
Course length: 5,410 yards (silver tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 66.3/115 (silver tee boxes)
My score: 122 (50 over par)

Eaglewood Resort & Spa
1401 Nordic Road
Itasca, IL 60143

Windy City Golf League

Posted by cjsharp1 on April 20, 2011 in News 2 Comments

Near the end of last year, I started to look into what Chicago has to offer in golf leagues. Nearly all of the leagues that I found are based just at one course and played only on certain days at that course, which is something that didn’t appeal to me. I eventually ran across the website for something that seemed a little different: Windy City Golf League. A couple months later, while browsing around the Chicago Golf Show, I ran across the booth for league, and I got a chance to talk to the founder, Jason Rotter, about the concept, format, and rules of the league.

The main idea that differs the Windy City Golf League from all other standard leagues is it’s flexibility. Instead of playing all of your matches at one course on one day in the week, the league allows you to choose to play your matches at any course, on any day, and any time. You also can play anyone in your league flight as much as you want, and you can play as many matches throughout the season as you want. Once you play a match, you just enter the results of the match into their website, and they handle all the ranking and statistics from there.

There are two types of formats for the league: the individual head-to-head league and the 2-person team scramble. For the individual league, you are grouped into flights based on your current (or estimated) handicap and based on your typical availability (which, at this point, might not have so much of an effect), so you will most likely play someone who is around your skill level. Your matches are standard 9- or 18-hole stroke play matches, and you receive points based on how many strokes you win or lose by. For the team league, since the league is relatively new, it is assumed that everyone is scratch golfers, and all teams are placed in the same flight. This obviously will change once the league gets enough teams to create multiple flights. Matches are played in scramble format, and recorded in stroke-play format. The 12-week league concludes with one final tournament where points can be earned: the Arghe Isle Cup Tournament. To qualify for the tournament, you need to be the points leader in your group, have the highest player rating, or have the lowest adjusted scoring average. The overall winner of each flight wins the tournament trophy.

The current cost for the league is $60 per person ($120 per team) per season. There are two seasons: the Spring season, which runs from April to July, and the Summer season, which runs from July to October. One really nice thing that Jason has worked on over the past years is creating partnerships and deals with golf courses in the areas. League members get special offers and discounts at some of the popular courses in the area. On top of that, Jason has also been working on other incentives that quickly offset the cost of the league.

So, needless to say, I’m going to join the league for the Spring season. I’m not going in to this expecting to win anything (some people might disagree with that attitude), but I’ll certainly enjoy it if i do. Maybe joining this league will help me with my mental game, forcing me to focus a little more during the round. But I’m primarily joining to meet some new people, play some new courses, and have some fun (and I think most people will agree with that attitude).

Just a quick note: I am no way associated with the business of the Windy City Golf League. I am merely a participant. This post was written entirely by me, and everything is written based on my knowledge of how the league is operated, which was gathered by researching their website and from my conversation with the founder.

Update: Read my end-of-season wrap-up post here.

Downers Grove Golf Club

Posted by cjsharp1 on April 15, 2011 in Courses 0 Comments

The weather for the second weekend of April turned out to be really nice, up near the 80’s and teasing us for the summer to come. Taking advantage of this, I headed over to Downers Grove Golf Club with a couple folks from the meetup group: Blake and [of course] Susie. Downers Grove Golf Club is located in (wait for it…) Downers Grove, Illinois, approximately 20 miles west of Chicago.

Downers Grove Golf Club has a rich history. The course was established in 1892, formerly known at the Chicago Golf Club, as a 9-hole course. It was America’s first golf course west of the Allegheny mountain range. One year later, in 1893, another 9-holes were added, making the course the first 18-hole golf course in the United States. In 1895, the club members decided to build a new 18-hole golf course near Wheaton, Illinois, where the Chicago Golf Club is still in existence today. (And don’t expect me to play the Chicago Golf Club anytime soon. According to the Wikipedia entry, the “Chicago Golf Club is ranked the 5th most exclusive in the world. There are only 120 members and it will never exceed this amount, the only way to get in is for a member to quit or pass away”.) The course changed several owners from 1895 until 1968, when the course was purchased by the Downers Grove Park District, and was turned back into a 9-hole course.

The course features two par-3 and two par-5 holes for a total par of 36 at a length of 3,280 yards from the back tees. The fairways are very hilly, although fairly open and straight, and are surrounded by large trees. You’ll definitely want to plan out your next shot before you tee off. It’s not uncommon to have to hit your next shot going uphill or downhill. Water touches seven holes, and nearly all of the water hazards are part of protected wetlands. You’ll only need to carry your shot over water on the 2nd hole, a 416 yard par-4, the 3rd hole, a 467 yard par-5, and the 9th hole, a 482 yard par-5. Sand traps are found both near the fairways and the greens on almost all holes. The greens are a decent size with consistent slopes and breaks, providing a challenge to all levels of players.

When Blake, Susie and I arrived at the first tee box, we were greeted by the fourth player in our round, Tracy. Tracy was a regular at the course, so it was nice to have someone in our round that knew the ins and outs of the course. He was very helpful in pointing out where we should place our shots, all while providing a bit more historical knowledge on the upkeep and layout of the course. He was telling us that throughout the season, the club will change up many aspects of the course, most notably the location of the blue tees (the back tees) and the pins. He said that normally playing from the back tees felt like playing on a different hole than the rest of the people in your group because they are so far away from the next tee box. In many cases, the back tees would get moved, adding up to an extra 50 yards onto the hole. He also mentioned that the pin locations sometime get placed right in the middle of a slope, which adds an extra level of challenge to putting. Luckily, I didn’t play from the back tees and the pin locations were not too difficult this round. That was actually the last thing I needed to happen on this round.

I’ve noticed over the last couple of years while working on this project that there tends to be one course that I play throughout the season that really challenges me; one course that really confirms how much of a beginner I am. In 2009, I think that course was the Meadows Golf Club of Blue Island, where I shot a 127. In 2010, I could have been Broken Arrow Golf Club or the South Course of Silver Lake Country Club, where I shot a 136 and 137 (respectively). For 2011, I think it’s safe to say that my trouble course is Downers Grove Golf Club.

I had a lot of trouble this round. My drives were pretty inconsistent, slicing right or pushing left, but did occasionally have a good drive. It’s my iron shots where I had the most issues. I wasn’t consistently hitting the ball correctly, either topping the ball or chunking into the ground, and when I did hit the ball, it wasn’t accurate at all, both in direction and distance. I couldn’t hit the tee shots on the par-3 holes either. From what Susie and Blake was telling me, I was either overpowering my shot or standing up when hitting my shot, or both, which makes complete sense because it was the same thing I used to do last year before I took my first lesson. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get back to what I was taught. The rest of my game also lacked, but that could have been because I was so frustrated with my shots that got me to the green. My chipping and putting was OK, but still needed some practice. I 2-putted four times and 3-putted five times. Honestly, by the time I got to putting, I was just wanting to get the hole over with.

I ended up shooting a 72, which is 36-over par. I wasn’t too happy with my round. The course was difficult, and I think even good players would agree with me on that. On top my poor playing, walking the course, with all of its hills, made for a very unsatisfactory round for this beginner. I wouldn’t necessarily not recommend this course to a beginner, but I would just make sure they know what they are getting themselves into. Much like in previous years, I’ll play another round at a course that I had trouble with, so don’t find it surprising if you see me playing this course again. The greens fees for the course are very fair for the challenge you’ll get, so it’ll be hard to pass it up if I get invited to play the course again.

Downers Grove Golf Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 3,041 yards (white tee boxes)
Course par: 36
Course rating/slope: 70.4/126 (white tee boxes)
My score: 72 (36 over par)

Downers Grove Golf Club
2420 Haddow Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Carriage Greens Country Club

Posted by cjsharp1 on April 6, 2011 in Courses 0 Comments

It’s the beginning of April, a new golf season, and the weather is starting to get nice, so I kicked-off the season at Carriage Greens Country Club. Carriage Greens, which opened in 1971, is located in Darien, Illinois, approximately 24 miles southwest of Chicago.

The course features four par-3 and two par-5 holes for a total par of 70 at a length of 6,395 yards from the back tees. Although the course only has two par-5 holes, three of the par-4 holes are longer than 420 yards from the back tees. If you play from the red tees, then you’ll have four par-5 holes, moving the total par to 72. The fairways are mostly flat and open, and are surrounded by medium- to large-sized trees. The fairways, range from straight, to slight dogleg, to 90 degree dogleg (doglegs are only found on the par-4 holes). Water hazards touch 11 of the holes, six of which you’ll need to carry over, although most of the time you’ll just need to carry over a very small water hazard. I’m guessing the water levels on the hazards were a little low since it was earlier in the season. Sand traps are found on nearly every hole, either near the fairway or the green, and typically not both. The greens are a decent size, and contain just slight breaks.

I can’t really say too much about the maintenance of the course, since it was very early in the season. There were a couple places under maintenance, and part the green on one of the holes on the back nine (I can’t remember which one) looked like it was recently re-sodded. Aside of that, this looks like it could be a beautiful course come summertime. In fact, I’ll actually be playing this course again later this year, so I’ll get to check out what it looks like in a couple months.

I played this round with Susie again. I like having Susie as a golfing “buddy”, not only because I can rely on her to play a round with me, but also because we have lately been trying to help each other improve. She’ll call me out when she thinks I’m doing something differently, and I’ll help her out to determine how to hit certain shots. By all means, we aren’t really good, and our advice probably isn’t the best, but it’s better than nothing, and it motivates us to improve our game.

For being the first round of the season (the first round of golf in five months or so), I don’t think I played too bad. My drives still sliced slightly to the right, but not so far right where I was always in the opposite fairway, and my drives didn’t seem like they were going very far, possibly because I was trying to focus on not slicing. I topped the ball a couple times on my iron shots, probably because I was standing up during the swing. Most of the time, it felt like I just wasn’t getting underneath the ball. I wasn’t comfortable at all with my wedges, and was experimenting back-and-forth between my pitching wedge and my lob wedge. I felt my putting was pretty bad, mostly in the front nine, but then slightly improved in the back nine. I did have trouble putting because the greens were inconsistent, but I’ll blame that on it being early in the season.

I ended up shooting a 114, which is 44 over par. This comprised of one par, three bogeys, and way too many double and triple bogeys. My putting didn’t help the score either; I 1-putted two times and 3-putted six times.

Honestly, my only goal for this round was to walk away shooting 120 or better, which I successfully did. I couldn’t expect much out of the first round of the season, other than to get warmed-up and excited for the rest of the season. I’m looking for to playing this course again, and playing the rest of the 2011 golf season.

Carriage Greens Country Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,011 yards (white tee boxes)
Course par: 70
Course rating/slope: 69.7/122 (white tee boxes)
My score: 114 (44 over par)

Carriage Greens Country Club
8700 Carriage Greens Drive
Darien, IL 60561

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