Michigan’s Homestead could be ‘Most Beautiful’ for visiting golfers

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm GLEN ARBOR, Mich. – The Homestead is located in the heart of Michigan’s best golf areas, but it’s difficult to consider it a golf destination. There’s so many more attractions there, most notably Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. In 2011 ABC’s Good Morning America labeled that area "the Most Beautiful Place in America." It’d be pretty hard for a golf destination to compete with "America’s Most Beautiful Place," wouldn’t you agree? The Homestead welcome sign doesn’t even focus on golf. Instead, it proclaims itself as "America’s Freshwater Resort." Still, there’s good reasons to link The Homestead with golf. The facility has a 19-year history with the sport, dating to the creation of a nine-hole 1,200-yard par-3 course called Mountain Flowers. Bob Kuras, The Homestead’s owners, was one of its designers. (more…)

Next Tom Doak course is unique; it’ll play in two directions

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm ROSCOMMON, Mich. – The idea is at least intriguing. Tom Doak has designed a golf course that will have 18 greens and fairways but will play in two directions. The No. 18 green will always be the No. 18 green, but one day you play around to that green from a clock-wise direction, and the next day you do it in a counter-clockwise direction. Michigan’s respected Forest Dunes will get two new courses while building only one. Think about that — and a lot of people have. (more…)

Medinah will restore – not renovate – this Bendelow course

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm For reasons that have long escaped me, Tom Bendelow is still not in the World Golf Hall of Fame. He was the course architect that, perhaps more than any other, got golf started in the United States. That’s especially evident in the Chicago area. Bendelow’s name has been on about 800 courses that were built from, roughly, 1895 to 1930. Most that have survived have been radically altered, among them Medinah’s famous No. 3 course that has hosted three U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships and the 2012 Ryder Cup matches. [caption id="attachment_1018" align="alignright" width="300"]Superintendent Curtis Tyrrell is tackling another big project at Medinah. Superintendent Curtis Tyrrell is tackling another big project at Medinah.[/caption] Bendelow was the original designer of all three courses on the Medinah property in the 1920s. The No. 1 layout was renovated last year by Michigan architect Tom Doak. More extensive work has been done on No. 3 over the years to prepare that layout for its big tournaments, and Rees Jones was the latest architect to do the work there. (more…)

Public golfers can experience a Donald Ross creation at Ravisloe

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm I guess you can learn something every day. I thought I knew a bit about Donald Ross, the famed golf designer, but I didn’t realize he had designed only one public course in Illinois. That course is Ravisloe in Homewood, which went public when Claude Gendreau purchased the club in 2009. Cheryl Justak, publisher of Golf Now! Chicago, and I had played Ravisloe during its 107 years as a private club (my lone round there was about 20 years ago). We were duly impressed by our long-planned return visit this week. The course was in great shape, the rough was so thick it was frequently difficult to find your ball and the greens and bunkers were both challenging and fun. The clubhouse was nice, too. All in all, a good experience. (more…)

Is This Really Illinois? Eagle Ridge Soars in Scenic Galena

By Jim Zuccarelli [caption id="attachment_1009" align="alignleft" width="300"]Eagle Ridge 4th Hole - South Course Eagle Ridge 4th Hole - South Course[/caption] The drive west on Route 20 offers occasional glimpses of the increasingly majestic views as the topography gradually changes from farmland flat to the rolling hills of the Galena Territory in the northwest corner of Illinois. Upon arriving at the vast Eagle Ridge resort property, the thick woods, rock outcroppings and steep elevation changes made me wonder if I had somehow took a wrong turn and left Illinois, as what I found is unlike 99.9% of the state I’ve called home my entire life. (more…)

Here and there: French Lick dominates in hosting senior majors

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm Dave Harner, director of golf at the French Lick Resort in southern Indiana, looked for a big event to spotlight the stunning Pete Dye Course when it opened for play in 2009. He ended up establishing the premier event for the LPGA’s Legends Tour – the only 54-hole event on the circuit for women professionals 45 and over. The first Legends Championship was played in 2013 on the Dye-designed layout built on one of the highest points in the Hoosier state. That event quickly became something special, as the Legends Hall of Fame opened the same week as the tournament in the historically-rich West Baden Springs Hotel nearby. And that wasn’t all. (more…)

Here and there: PGA happy with Harbor Shores’ changes

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm Golf courses generally get toughened up before they are used for a major professional tournament. That wasn’t the case at Harbor Shores, the Jack Nicklaus design in Benton Harbor, Mich., however. Harbor Shores has already hosted the Senior PGA Championship twice and has already been awarded that plum for 2016 and 2018. It’ll play differently for the future events. Bob McFeeter, managing director for the course, unveiled changes to six greens (Nos. 1. 2 and 6 on the front nine and Nos. 12, 14 and 16 on the back). Two fairways, at the sixth and 14th holes, also underwent some tweaking and beach sand at the No. 7 hole was replaced with regular bunker sand. (more…)

Spring is a Great Time to Play Top Windy City Courses

By Jim Zuccarelli There’s been a few starts and stops to the Spring of 2015 golf season, but it finally looks like the milder weather is here to stay.  Here’s a sample of courses at every corner of Chicagoland, from super expensive to moderately priced, offering sizable savings from in-season green fees thru April into early May.  Rates can change without notice, so check your favorite layouts for the most current fees: (more…)

Golf Course at Marquette Park a Vintage City Option

By Jim Zuccarelli Marquette Park 3rd HoleThe golfing options within the city of Chicago are surprisingly limited, with only 144 holes of public access golf available to the 2.7 million citizens. By contrast, my current hometown of Lemont (population 16,000) has 126 holes inside its borders. I grew up just 2 blocks beyond the west edge of the city in Oak Lawn, and one of the courses I frequented as a teenager was the 9 holes at Marquette Park. This layout at 67th & Kedzie is the southwest side outpost of the 63 holes currently operated by the Chicago Park District. (more…)

Ross Inspired Ravisloe a Windy City Treasure

By Jim Zucarelli Windy City Public Golfer’s Guide Ravisloe - 1st HoleAnyone who watched the Men’s or Women’s 2014 U.S. Opens at Pinehurst #2 were treated to the golf course architectural genius of Donald Ross, arguably the most revered and accomplished designer to have worked on American soil. According to the Donald Ross Society, 13 courses in the Chicago area from 1913 to 1921 were either new creations or redesigns by Ross. All were private clubs until 2008, when Ravisloe Country Club in south suburban Homewood was sold to veterinary surgeon Dr. Claude Gendreau and became a public fee facility. (more…)