Starting off the 2012 golf season in March? In Chicago? That’s something I’ve never done before. You usually have to wait until April to get a decent day with temperatures high enough where you won’t freeze your butt off. The original plan for the weekend was to go to TopGolf with a group of people from the Chicago Co-Ed Golf Meetup Group, but at the last minute, the group decided to take advantage of the nice weather and play a round at Fresh Meadow Golf Club. The course is located in Hillside, Illinois, approximately 15 miles west of downtown Chicago, and was opened in 1930. Fresh Meadow is probably more known for their large, lighted driving range/learning center, which features both covered hitting bays, grass hitting bays, and a large chipping and putting area.

The course features five par-3 and three par-3 holes for a total par of 70 at a length of 6,283 yards from the back tees. For this round, there was only one tee box, which didn’t really surprise me since this was the opening weekend for many golf courses in Chicago (whether that is an acceptable excuse is up to you). The course wraps around the back of the driving range, so on some holes it’s common to find range balls in the middle of the fairways. The fairways are mostly open and flat, with medium-sized trees along the fairways. You’ll find nearly 90 degree doglegs on the 4th hole (a 436 yard par-4) and the 17th hole (a 365 yard par-4). Water touches five of the holes, two of which you’ll need to carry over either on your tee shot (the 5th hole, a 181 yard par-3) or on the way to the green (the 14th hole, a 325 yard par-4). Bunkers are found on all of the holes, nearly always next to the greens. The greens are fairly large with steady slopes and challenging breaks.

With it being March, it’s difficult to comment on the quality of the course. The bunkers were unkempt, and sand was blown and covering parts of the greens on some holes. A quick lap around each of the greens with the blower would have helped. The greens were not actually green, but more brown, and the holes from aerating made for bumpy rolls during putts (not to mention the holes from the previous location of the cups). Aside from that, you won’t find any ball cleaners or garbage cans during your round, and restrooms (in our case, port-o-potties) were rare. Aside from the course, the driving range looked like it could also use some help (it’s hard to not notice while playing the round).

For this round, Susie and I played the full 18, while the rest of the group played only the front 9. Blake, the group’s organizer, joined us for the front 9.

Being the first round of the season, the first time hitting the ball in a long time, I don’t think I did so badly (though, luck was on my side). I started the round by slicing my drive and 3-putting for a triple bogey, but then turned around with a bogey, bogey, par. On the 5th hole, I somehow crossed the water hazard, but found myself in the bunkers for 3 strokes, and ended up with a triple bogey. Then, a miracle occurred. On the 6th hole (a 440 yard par-5), I sliced my drive into the next fairway, then hit a solid 4-iron within 50 yards of the hole, right outside green next to a bunker. My next shot was an easy pitch onto the green, that ended up rolling right into hole. I hit an eagle on a par-5! The rest of the round was pretty average… bogeys, double bogeys, or worse, though I did finish the round with a chip-in par.

All-in-all, my drives were pretty random and my iron shots were decent (though a little short). My putting was also random, but I think that was expected with the quality of the greens. I ended up 1-putting three times and 3-putting five times (with two chip-ins).

I ended up shooting a 98 for the round (28 over par, 48 on the front nine, 50 on the back nine). This consisted of 1 eagle, 3 pars, 3 bogeys, 8 double bogeys, and all others worse. Obviously, this was a far better result than what I expected for my first round of the season. It feels good to have a start like that. Hopefully I this will continue throughout the season.

Fresh Meadow Golf Club – Scores & Stats
Course length: 5,978 yards (white tee boxes)
Course par: 70
Course rating/slope: 68.6/113 (white tee boxes)
My score: 98 (28 over par)

Fresh Meadow Golf Club
2144 South Wolf Drive
Hillside, IL 60162