Chicago Golf Club—Wheaton, Il
Rankings as of 6/12/12---
-15th best course in the US; 24th best course in the World (Golf Magazine)
-17th best course in the US (Golf Digest)
-12th best Classic US Course (Golfweek)
Chicago Golf Club is the oldest 18 hole course in the United States and was one of the original founding clubs of
the USGA in 1894. The great CB MacDonald was the original architect of the golf course, while his protégé, Seth
Raynor, redesigned the course in 1923. This redesign, interestingly enough, was brought about by CB
MacDonald himself as, according the club’s literature, he thought his original design was not holding up to the
advances in the technology of golfing equipment.
This course/clubs history doesn’t end there. The club has also held 3 U.S. Opens, 4 U.S. Amateurs, 2 U.S.
Women’s Amateur (one being a Senior Am), and 2 Walker Cups. Perhaps the course is too short for today’s
professional men; but at 6,710 yards with wonderful bunkering and killer greens, it will prove to be a huge
challenge for 99% of the world’s golfers.
The wonderful history related to the club seeps into every aspect of the Chicago Golf experience. There are
wonderful paintings of Raynor and MacDonald on the walls, amazing original architectural drawings of the course
in the locker room, U.S Open trophies, old school lockers, wonderfully cozy dining areas, and stunning views of the
And everything fits like a hand and glove on the property. For example, the course used to be a farm field and the
wide-open links design of the course doesn’t do anything to distract from this farm feel. So, of course, the
clubhouse has a stunningly beautiful barn style/motif. And from just about every spot on the course you can see
that beautiful building.
The golf course itself is a magnificent display of how bunkers are supposed to be placed. Now, they are
geometrically shaped, clearly man-made bunkers and some may pooh-pooh the non-natural look of them.
However, I would make the argument that those people are missing the point of bunkers. They are not there to
complete an artistic sculpture. They are there to enhance the playing of golf. And that is what these bunkers do.
Every one of these perfectly placed bunkers needs to be thought about on every single shot. Can you carry
them? If you can, do you want to? Will laying up, or carrying, give you a better and/or more clear line to the
greens? Or will that just force another bunker carry to get to the pin? On every hole, on every shot, from every
angle the bunkers need to be considered…or else.
The greens are, also, geometrically shaped, but totally special. The land the course is on is fairly flat, so the
greens are not wildly undulating. Rather they have significant, but subtle slopes and contours. They are perfectly
complimentary to the ground the course is on…even if they aren’t totally natural looking.
For the golf architectural nuts reading this, the Redan hole at Chicago Golf Club is the most under-appreciated
Redans I know of. The slope, angle, kick plate, is really cool. Again, the bunkers are not natural looking but they
get in your head and make for great hazards. And the green is simply amazing. I’d guess this hole is over-looked
because few get to play Chicago Golf Club. But for all who get to play it, they won’t forget this wonderful hole.
Bottom line, Chicago Golf Club is one of the truly special golf courses in the entire world.
For a good photo tour of the course, click this link.