Archive for May 2011

Over the weekend, I played a round at The Links at Carillon Golf Course 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. The courses wrap around the Carillon community, which seems to be a really large community based on the layout and spacing of the holes. 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 do not recommend walking, unless you are really up for taking an occasional long walk.

For this round, I played the Red and White courses. As mentioned before, the Red course measures in at 3,391 yards from the back tees, and the White course measures in at 3,438 yards from the back tees. Both courses consists of two par-3 and two par-5 holes (the Blue course consists of 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 nearly all holes. You’ll need to carry over the water on a couple of the holes, mostly on the par-3’s. If you get a chance to play the White course, look out for the 9th hole, a 528 yard par-5, where you must carry your tee shot over a large body of water, around 200 yards, and land your shot in a 30-40 yard area of the fairway. A shorter or longer tee shot will put you in the water. Sand traps touch nearly all holes also, and looked to be well maintained. The greens are average size, and contain some challenging breaks. I can’t really say much more about the quality of the greens because they were recently aerated, resulting in some bumpy putts.

I was really wanting to play the all of The Links’ 9-hole courses in one day, both so I could play more than 18-holes and so I could knock the whole golf course off the list. My original tee time said I would be playing the Blue and Red courses, so when I called to see about playing the White course beforehand, I was denied by the pro shop. It turns out they rotate the 18-hole course in the middle of the day, and the White course would have been the turn course during the time that I was free to play it. When I got to the course for my scheduled tee time, and saw I was going to be playing different courses, I questioned the legitimacy of what I was told. Moral of the story: If you want to play all three courses in one day, coordinate it with the pro shop the day of, because they may rotate the courses, or they may not.

For this round, I met up with Susie again, and we were joined at the first tee by another twosome, Frank and Nick. Frank and Nick were pretty good, and they were nice guys, which made this a fun round.

I felt like I played a good round. My drives could have been a little straighter, and I topped a couple tee shots, but overall, I was perfectly fine with my tee shots. I felt my iron shots were great. I was making a lot of shots with solid contact and great distance. I feel like my iron shots have greatly improved over the last month. I’m also getting a lot more comfortable with my approach shots and chips. I feel like I’m starting to get under the ball more, and putting some loft on the ball. My putting was pretty bad, but that could be because of the aerated greens. I 1-putted twice and 3-putted seven times.

I ended up shooting a 105 for the round (33 over par), which broke down to a 51 on the Red course and a 54 on the White course. I had a good opportunity to break 100 on this round, but my inconsistency hurt me. I would go from shooting par or bogey on one hole to shooting three- or four-over on the next (isn’t that how it always goes?). For instance, I made bogey on the 6th hole (a 546 yard par-5, 490 yards from the white tees), because I 3-putted (it was crazy thinking about chipping for eagle). Also, penalties and shots from the sand made me mark an 8 for two holes on the White course. For the round, I made two pars, six bogeys, five double-bogeys, and all others worse. I know breaking 100 will happen this year. It’s just a matter of time.

Before I finish, I’ll mention that if you play this course, you’ll need to go to the south entrance of the subdivision (the smaller of the two entrances). If you go to the north entrance, you’ll get denied by the guard at the gate. Why they do that makes no sense to me, because the road will eventually take you to the same place.

The Links at Carillon – Red/White Course – Scores & Stats
Red course length: 2,952 yards (white tee boxes)
Red course par: 36
White course length: 3,058 yards (white tee boxes)
White course par: 36
Red to White course rating/slope: 68.9/120 (blue tee boxes)
My score: 105 (33 over par)

The Links at Carillon
21200 S. Carillon Dr.
Plainfield, IL 60544

Flagg Creek Golf Course

Posted by cjsharp1 on May 16, 2011 in Courses 1 Comment

This weekend, before the rain started, Adam and I were able to squeeze in a quick 9-hole round at Flagg Creek Golf Course. Flagg Creek is located in Countryside, Illinois, near the corner of the I-55 and I-294 intersection, approximately 25 miles southwest of Chicago. The land that Flagg Creek sits on was originally developed as an 18-hole course in the 1920’s called the Maple Crest. In the 50’s, the development of the Tri State Tollway forced the course to lose some of their land, decreasing it to a 12-hole course. In the 80’s, the Pleasant Dale Park District and City of Countryside purchased the land in order to save it from being turned into a condominium/retail development. In 1993, the Maple Crest was plowed down, redesigned to a 9-hole course, and opened as Flagg Creek Golf Course.

Flagg Creek consists of four par-3 and one par-5 holes for a total par of 33 at a length of 2,493 yards from the back tees. The course closely wraps itself around a lighted driving range, and on some of the holes, specifically the 1st hole (a 331 yard par-4) and the 7th hole (a 309 yard par-4), a sliced tee shot could have a good chance of landing among a sea of yellow range balls. The fairways are formed from rolling hills, are mostly open and straight, and are surrounded by large trees and more rolling hills. Water touches five holes, none of which you need to carry over, but three of which the water lies very close to the line of play. Sand traps are found on eight of the holes, mostly greenside bunkers. A good number of the bunkers are fairly deep, almost resembling the deep pot bunkers you’d see in links-style courses. The greens are average in size with steady slopes and challenging breaks. The whole course, from the tee boxes to the fairways and greens, including the rough and the sand traps, looks very well maintained, almost to the level you’d see at an expensive or private course.

In my opinion, Flagg Creek is a beautiful 9-hole course, and many people agree. Since its opening in 1993, Flagg Creek has received numerous awards and recognitions as being one of the best 9-hole courses in the Chicagoland area and in Illinois.

I don’t really want to bog down this post by talking too much about how my round went. I wish I could say I played as beautifully as the course looks. I’ll just say that most of my tee shots went right, my iron shots were mediocre, my approach shots were pretty good, and my putting was random. I went into this round with a different mindset compared to a round that would count toward my golf league. I figured I’d try a little more aggressive approach, taking shots that I shouldn’t normally take (but would probably end up taking anyway). In the end, I was reminded that I really need to think more about course management, and not always take an aggressive shot.

I ended up shooting a 57 for the round (24 over par), with only one bogey and all others worse. I 1-putted once and 3-putted twice. Adam shot a 49 (16 over par), which wasn’t so bad for his first time out this season. We ended up finishing the round in about 1.5 hours (I’ve read that on nice days, the course will fill up, and play time could be much longer than that).

I highly recommend playing this course. Even though is it somewhat of a short 9-hole course, the standard weekend greens free ($20, walking) is very fair for the quality and challenge the course offers.

Flagg Creek Golf Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 2,493 yards (blue tee boxes)
Course par: 33
Course rating/slope: 31.9/104 (blue tee boxes)
My score: 57 (24 over par)

Flagg Creek Golf Course
6939 S. Wolf Rd.
Countryside, IL 60525


The Sanctuary Golf Course

Posted by cjsharp1 on May 10, 2011 in Courses 1 Comment

Over the weekend, I journeyed to the southwest suburbs of Chicago to play a round at The Sanctuary Golf Course in New Lenox, Illinois. The course, which opened in 1996, is located approximately 30 miles southwest of Chicago (close to 40 miles in driving distance).

The course features two par-3 and two par-5 holes for a total par of 72 at a length of 6,917 yards from the back tees. If you play from the 2nd farthest tee boxes, the course shortens to 6,342 yards.  The course is [mostly] a ‘links-style’ course, so the fairways consist of rolling hills with very few trees. The fairways are narrow, and are bordered by tall grass. Since we played in the spring, the grass wasn’t as high you’d find it during the summer, but it was still pretty difficult to locate a stray ball. There are a couple of holes, mostly in the back nine, that are surrounded by tall trees. Water hazards touch nine of the holes, primarily along the sides of the fairway. The only spot of water you’ll need to carry over is your tee shot on the 15th hole, a 209 yard par-3 (the water on this hole is actually protected wetlands). Sand traps are found on all holes, in true ‘links-style’ fashion, and are well maintained. Since the fairways were narrow, the sand traps near the fairways give you little room for error on your tee shots. On many of the holes, it was difficult to determine exactly where you need to place your tee shot. After your tee shot, the fairways seemed to open up a bit more for your next shot towards the green. The greens are average in size, and none of them stuck out in my mind as being overly difficult. The only thing that made the greens difficult for putting was that they were pretty bumpy. This could be because the greens are still recovering from the winter season. The course, as a whole, is beautiful, and looks to be kept in great condition.

I played this round with Nusreth, another member of my Windy City Golf League group. Joining our twosome was a father/son twosome, both of whom I forgot their names. This was Nusreth’s first round of the season, and second round of golf ever. Needless to say, he was a beginner in all aspects of the game. I don’t really want to say much more about this, more particularly, how he played and/or how it affected the round (because I know I’ve been in his shoes many times). I’m thankful Nusreth and the other guys in our foursome were good sports, and we were able to play the round without anyone getting upset or annoyed.

Every golfer, at some point in time, must begin learning the game somewhere, and unfortunately, I don’t think this course was the best place for Nusreth to learn the game. The course may be nice for beginners because there are very few trees, but where trees do not exist, tall grass does. Also, layout of the course puts some of the narrow fairways very close to each other, so if you slice or hook your drive, your next shot may very well be from the neighboring fairway. Plain and simple, this course is difficult for beginners.

I feel like I did OK this round, but nothing spectacular. My drives were random again, sometimes slicing or pushing right, which normally landed in the tall grass. I felt my iron shots were still good, noting the change I started making at my last round at Joe Louis “The Champ” Golf Course. With that change, I’m seeing that I’m being a lot more consistent with my accuracy and distance, I’m topping the ball a lot less and taking divots instead, and I’ve gained more distance (notably, my 150 yard club has switched from my 6-iron to my 7-iron, which seems more common for golfers around my level). I don’t think my chipping was the best, but that’s something I know I need to work on. My putting was also random, but I’m going to blame the bumpy greens on that. I wasn’t disappointed with my putting, because I was making some accurate shots.

I shot a 107 for the round (35 over par, 54 on the front nine, 53 on the back nine). Even though the scores were similar on the front nine versus the back nine, I felt I played a lot better on the back nine. For the round, I made par once, bogey three times, and a lot of double-bogeys or worse. I 1-putted three times and 3-putted 5 times. Overall, I’m happy with this round.

The Sanctuary Golf Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,342 yards (blue tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 70.3/126 (blue tee boxes)
My score: 107 (35 over par)

The Sanctuary Golf Course
485 N. Marley Rd
New Lenox, IL 60451

Joe Louis “The Champ” Golf Course

Posted by cjsharp1 on May 6, 2011 in Courses 3 Comments

Over the weekend, I got to play at another Forest Preserve Golf course: Joe Louis “The Champ” Golf Course. Joe Louis is located in Riverdale, Illinois, approximately 15 miles south of Chicago. As mentioned previously, Joe Louis is part of the Forest Preserve Golf courses, which operates ten golf courses throughout Chicagoland (including Chick Evans, Billy Caldwell, and Indian Boundary, three other courses I have played so far). Like all other Forest Preserve Golf courses, Joe Louis is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. I’ll also mention that out of Forest Preserve Golf facilities, there are only three driving ranges: one at Joe Louis, one at Highland Woods Golf Course, and the Harry Semrow Driving Range.

The course features two par-3 and two par-5 holes for a total par of 72 at a length of 6,742 yards from the back tees. Joe Louis is known for their 7th hole, a 603 yard par-5, which is said to be the second longest par-5 in Chicagoland (their website states it’s 614 yards, but my scorecard only labels it as 603 yards). The fairways are, for the most part, open and straight, and surrounded by large trees. Water hazards touch only four holes, two of which are par-3 holes (the 158 yard 8th and the 145 yard 17th), both require you to carry over a small portion of the pond that splits them. Sand traps are not abundant, although they claim (on their website) to have 52 of them, but are a decent size when present. When I played the round, the sand traps were still being worked on, including a few that was getting a refill of sand. Other sand traps were almost as hard as concrete, or a pool of water had formed in it. The greens were pretty challenging; far more undulating than I expected for a Forest Preserve Golf course. Since the fairways were straight and open, and water hazards and sand traps were limited, I think the greens were the most challenging part of the whole course.

I played this round with Trent, Mike P., and another member of my Windy City Golf League group, Chuck. This was Trent and Mike’s first round of the season, so they were mostly playing just to warm-up for the season. Chuck had played a couple of the past weekends.

I feel like I played a pretty decent round. My drives were not terrible. I did duff a couple tee shots, but for the most part they were straight or pushed to the right. I thought my iron shots were better than the last couple of rounds, mostly because I tried just taking half back swings, which helped keep the swing plane in the right area. Because of this, I didn’t top the ball as often, and I was making a much more solid contact with the ball. I thought my chip shots were decent, mostly setting me up for a 2-putt. I probably could have worked on these a little more, so I could get closer for a 1-putt. My putting was average. I felt like I did OK with my putting, since the greens were pretty challenging. I 1-putted once and 3-putted five times. That’s not too bad, right?

I shot a 106 for the round (34 over par, 54 on the front nine, 52 on the back nine), which was my best round of the season so far. This comprised of one par (on a par-5, which I think is good), five bogeys, eight double-bogeys, and four others. Chuck didn’t play so well, shooting a 129 (64 on the front nine, 65 on the back nine). Mike said he shot a 103, which is about his average score, and Trent probably shot in the 80’s, because he’s just that good.

Joe Louis “The Champ” Golf Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,318 yards (white tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 69.4/119 (white tee boxes)
My score: 106 (34 over par)

Joe Louis “The Champ” Golf Course
13100 S. Halsted St.
Riverdale, IL 60827

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