Best Value Golf Courses in Chicago
Chicago, like any big city, can be pricey. It doesn’t matter where you go for entertainment – out to eat, to watch a game, exploring a museum – every experience can feel expensive. Fortunately, playing golf doesn’t have to be that way. The game offers a variety of courses that can make it affordable for anybody to play. Chicago has its share of fancy private clubs – Shoreacres, Butler National, Black Sheep, Chicago Golf Club, Cog Hill, The Glen Club, etc. They’re all great experiences and special treats once in a while.
But the majority of golfers want value, feeling like they’re recreational dollars go a little further. That’s where dozens of lesser known – but perfectly able and enjoyable – courses fit the bill. Municipal golf – which offers some of the best value golf courses in Chicago – is a good place to start. Many suburbs within driving distance of downtown offer something for residents and better rates for the general public. The Forest Preserve courses of Cook County tend to be shorter and easier, important traits of some of the best value golf courses in Chicago. Although located within the city limits, the 6,028-yard Indian Boundary Golf Course still has that natural feel with deer roaming the fairways. The Chick Evans Golf Course in Morton Grove is even shorter (5,691 yards). The Chicago River flows through its midsection. Golfers can rent GolfBoards at both courses to spice up their round.
Golfers should play their final rounds at Jackson Park Golf Course on the south side before it disappears. Jackson Park, owned by the Chicago Park District, is on track to rebuilt into a new Tiger Woods design by 2021-22 that could eventually host the PGA Tour. Its lakefront setting is good now but will be better put to use by the eventual rerouting.
The Bonnie Brook Golf Course in Waukegan was designed in 1926 by James Foulis, who won the second U.S. Open in 1896. The course called “The Brook” by locals has a classic feel accented by gently rolling hills, tall native grasses, sparkling lakes and the north branch of the Waukegan River. In 2014, local architect Dave Esler transformed the 6,300-yard, par-70 Mt. Prospect Golf Club into a smorgasbord of Golden Age architecture with template holes featuring Redan, Biarritz, Double Plateau and Punchbowl greens.
Another architectural dream is the 6,430-yard Kankakee Elks Country Club, set upon the banks of Kankakee River in Saint Anne south of the city. Golden Age architects William Langford and Theodore Moreau, best known for their work at the Links of Lawsonia in Wisconsin, built similar bold features here.
Keith Foster has contributed his share of best value golf courses to greater Chicago. Shepherd’s Crook Golf Course in Zion gets great reviews on Golf Advisor for its linksy architecture and value. The Highlands of Elgin Golf Course, built atop a defunct course, showcases nine new holes around an old stone quarry. Four holes hug the top of the bluff, providing nice views and good shot values.
Last but not least, the Oak Grove Golf Course in Harvard occupies natural land used by a former hunt club and is considered one of the best value golf courses in Chicago.
You might burn through some gas finding all these courses, but certainly not a hole in your wallet.