Over the course of working on this project, I have traveled all over Chicagoland to play some some great courses (and some not-so-great courses) in northeast Illinois. A couple weekends ago, though, Markus and I headed across the east state border of Illinois to Hammond, Indiana to play one of the few Indiana courses in the project: Lost Marsh Golf Course. The course is located approximately 20 miles southeast of downtown Chicago, just minutes from the Chicago Skyway. Lost Marsh was designed by Charles Howard and opened in 2003. Although the layout and design of the course stands out, the first thing you’ll notice as you arrive at the course is the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired prairie-style clubhouse, which sits atop a hill that used to be a former industrial site. Throughout the round, it’s easy to look in the distance and see this beautiful clubhouse.
The course features four par-3 and four par-5 holes for a total par of 72 at a length of 6,803 yards from the back tees (named Tournament). The holes were recently re-numbered, and the tees were reconfigured to have four tee boxes instead of three, a change that has been reflected in the scorecard but not yet on the signs near the tee boxes. The next tees (named Championship) drop the length to 6,370 yards, followed by 5,859 and 4,972 yards on the two subsequent tees (named Green and Regular, respectively). I will mention that playing from the Green tees does make the course much easier to play, mostly thanks to a couple of challenging tee shots that the back two tee boxes need to make on some holes. There is a notable difference between the front nine and the back nine. The prairie-style fairways are generally open and straight, surrounded by small rolling hills, thick grass, and trees (on the back nine). On the front nine, it’s pretty easy to see what surrounds the fairways… water… a lot of water. Water touches six of the holes on the front nine, including four of the holes that has water nearly surrounding the whole fairway. One notable hole on the front nine is the 3rd hole (a 474 yard par-4), where water surrounds the entire fairway, from tee to green. On the front nine, you’ll need to carry water seven times, either on your tee shot or on your way to the green. On the back nine, water touches only three holes, including the 11th hole (a 171 yard par-3), which features an island tee box. With all the focus on water, bunkers do exist, but are somewhat scarce. The undulating greens are fairly large, and played pretty soft and slow for my round. In fact, the whole course was pretty soft, which you’ll see an example of in the pictures below where one of my [high] tee shots dove deep into the soft fairway.
I think I can safely say that Lost Marsh is one of my favorite courses in the Chicagoland area. Not only is it a beautiful course with a challenging layout, it’s also a short drive from downtown Chicago (take Lake Shore Drive to Stoney Island Avenue to the Skyway, and you’ll get there in less than 20 minutes, hitting barely any traffic). Also, the greens fees are very competitive, if not cheaper, compared to some of the other nice courses in Chicagoland. If I could change anything about this course, I’d add more, or larger, bunkers, to make it more comparable to a course like Harborside. Needless to say… play this course!
Going into this round, I did plenty of research on the layout of this course, so I knew exactly what I was up against. As I imagined, the water around the front nine gave me the most issues. I actually started the round off well, when I hit the fairway with my hybrid tee shot on the 1st hole (a 340 yard par-4). After that, it was pretty much downhill from there. Nearly all of my tee shots and iron shots throughout the first seven holes were pushed or sliced right, either into what rough existed or the water. It was until the 8th hole (a 180 yard par-3) that my tee shot went straight again. After that hole, the rest of the round was more like I how normally play: random tee shots, random iron shots, and random putting.
I ended up shooting a 117 for the round (45 over par, 63 on the front nine, 54 on the back nine), which was one of my worst rounds within the last couple of years. Honestly though, I went into this round not expecting to break 100, so I’m fine with this score. My score consisted of a couple bogeys, but mostly double and triple bogeys. The one stat that stand out the most was my nine penalty shots throughout the first seven holes. I 1-putted four times and 3-putted six times, and had just one sand shot. As poor as I played, and as much trouble the water gave me, I still think this is a great course, and I encourage anyone to play this course.
Lost Marsh Golf Course – Scores & Stats
Course length: 6,370 yards (Championship tee boxes)
Course par: 72
Course rating/slope: 71.6 / 127 (Championship tee boxes)
My score: 117 (45 over par)