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.

Marquette Park Golf Course dates back near 100 years as part of the 300 acre urban green space of the same name, and the original course included 18 holes and was one of the hundreds of tracks attributed to the prolific Scottish born architect Tom Bendelow. My 40 + year history has only been with the 9 hole version, and I decided to make a long overdue return visit on a sunny Sunday morning last October, using my car rather than the CTA bus I used to ride with clubs in tow in my youth.

Marquette Park 3rd HoleThe course is very much as I remembered, with wide fairways, smallish greens, plenty of mature trees and the Marquette Park lagoon that borders the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 6th holes. The first tee revealed the biggest change, as the nasty rubber mats that were used back in the day were replaced by grass on all 9 tee boxes. The course plays to a legitimate 3,246 yards from the tips, with two other sets at 3,060 and 2,782 yards, with a 4th set of “Junior” markers at a kid friendly 1,600 yards.

The two par fives (3 & 7) are short at 458 and 485 yards, but the par threes (5 & 9) are long at over 200 yards each, while the par fours range from the 439 yard 2nd hole to the 312 yard 4th, with a water carry off the tee on the 351 yard 8th hole. The 35.5 / 119 rating / slope is indicative of the difficulty, as trouble can be found if you’re off target, but the flat topography and straight forward holes make Marquette Park a player friendly layout for all skill levels.

Marquette Park 6th HoleThe two holes that stood out were #’s 3 and 6. The short par five is the best chance at birdie here, as long as you stay left of the lagoon that runs along the entire right side and avoid the traps that flank the fairway. The green is angled and positioned slightly below the fairway and behind the water. The 6th hole is 384 yards with a slight turn left. The lagoon is to the right of the tree line, and a big mound with a trap sits left about 175 yards from the elevated green.

Marquette Park 7th HoleThere are 24 sand traps total in play with at least one on each hole, quite a few for a 9 hole course, but be forewarned that the bunkers more closely resemble the asphalt parking lot than a Lake Michigan beach. I found one on my approach to the 4th hole, and the fellows I paired with at the start encouraged me to throw it out of the fairly deep greenside trap. I played it as it lied and promptly rifled it across the green and just short of the water behind. If you do decide to play at Marquette Park, keep your expectations low as overall the conditions are not very good.

There is also a Foot Golf course at Marquette Park, and the highlight of the day was watching one of my playing partners find the bottom of the 21” wide cup with his tee shot on #7. Golf for me is all about having fun, and regardless of the less than stellar traps and rough fairways, I had a good time. The woman working the small starter shack who collected the$19 walking greens fee was delightful, the guys I played with were friendly, the Audubon certified Cooperative Sanctuary is a pleasant patch of green space on the city’s densely populated southwest side. Plus the chance to revisit a small part of my early Chicago golfing legacy is priceless. I don’t know if or when I’ll return again, but I’m glad I made the trip this time.

Marquette Park 8th HoleMarquette Park Golf Course
6700 S. Kedzie Avenue, Chicago
4 tees 3,246 – 1,588 yds Par 36
35.5/119 – 28.0/82 rating / slope (men)
37.2 / 127 – 29.1/92 (women)
M-F $17 walk / $27 ride
SA-SU $19 / $29
Driving Range and Practice Area Onsite