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:
ARBORETUM (Buffalo Grove) – Built on the site of a former nursery, this is a perfect course to play when the trees are in bloom. Summer rates are $75. Current Online Rates – M-F $37-39 w/c, $29 after 1 pm, SA-SU $45-50 w/c, $35 after 1 pm
FOXFORD HILLS (Cary) – This 7,000 yard par 72 layout seamlessly mixes prairie elements with thick woods and plenty of elevation change. Top summer fees are $57 weekdays and $79 weekends. Posted Rates thru 4/30 – M-F $42 w/c, SA-SU $50, $39 after 1 pm
GLEN CLUB (Glenview) – The priciest public access course in the Windy City at a top rate of $215 w/cart, this acclaimed Tom Fazio design on the former Naval Air Base is on my list of courses to play for 2015. Posted Rates thru 4/16 – $90 walk/115 ride Early Spring Rates 4/17 – from $100 walk/125 ride to $135 walk/160 ride
HIGHLAND PARK – North Shore staple is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2015. Peak Season Greens Fee tops out at $75 w/cart. Current Online Rates – $35 w/c M-F, $45 w/c SA-SU
PINE MEADOW (Mundelein) – One of the Jemsek family courses, this highly regarded parkland classic will cost up to $90 in peak season. Posted Spring Rates – $50 walk/66 ride, $39/49 after 2 pm.
PRAIRIE ISLE (Prairie Grove) – This course gets overshadowed by its neighbors in Cary (Chalet Hills and Foxford Hills), but it can hold its own, and the dramatic 13th hole is a rare find in this area. Summer Rates max out at $68 on weekends. Posted Spring Rates – M-F $19 walk/36 ride, SA-SU $27/44
SHEPHERD’S CROOK (Zion) – Links style layout in the shadow of the Wisconsin border is an always reasonable $60, but April is a super bargain at this fine Keith Foster design. Posted Rates to 5/1 – M-F $25 walk/35 ride, SA-SU $30/40, $25 w/c after 2 pm every day
STEEPLE CHASE (Mundelein) – Park District course designed by Ken Killian has great variety and a killer par 5 finish. Summer rates are $67 – $74, but spring weekdays offer a prime savings. Posted Rates thru 5/3 – M-F $32 walk/44 ride, SA-SU $49/67, $40/52 after 11 am.
STONEWALL ORCHARD (Grayslake) – The self-described Arthur Hills “Masterpiece” is a secluded Far North suburban gem with summer rates ranging from $84 to $95. Current online rates – $59 weekdays, $69 weekends.
BLACKBERRY OAKS (Bristol) – Located at the far west edge of suburbia, the par 72 course is a little short on length (6,400 yds) but it’s a well-conditioned, fun layout with $57-$65 summer rates. Posted rates thru 4/17 – M-F $25 walk/35 ride, $15/23 after 1 pm SA-SU – $29/39, $20/28 after 1.
INDIAN LAKES (Bloomingdale) – The renovated, 27 hole BlackHawk Trace facility at the Hilton resort range from $79 to $89 on summer mornings. Current Online Rates – M-F $35 w/c, 429 after 2 pm SA-SU $51 w/c
KLEIN CREEK (Winfield) – Over-the-top sub-division design is usually well conditioned and a typically challenging Dick Nugent layout. Summer rates top out at $79. Current Online Rates M-F $40-49 w/cart, SA-SU $49, $30 after 3 pm daily
ORCHARD VALLEY (Aurora) – One of my favorite plays, Ken Kavanaugh uses intricate bunkering and the edges of a lake for several risk/reward opportunities. Summer rates are a reasonable $59-69. Current Online Rates – M-F $39 w/c, SA-SU $49 w/c, $29 after 2 pm every day
PRAIRIE LANDING (West Chicago) – Upscale Robert Trent Jones Jr. links course is completing an update, but use of the 3 practice holes will keep a full 18 in play. One of the few area courses with triple digit in-season fees. Spring Rates thru May 15th range from $39 to $74.
SEVEN BRIDGES (Woodridge) – Difficult Dick Nugent design will lighten your wallet at $89 – $111 in-season green fees, but spring and fall are great times to play this scenic track. Current Posted Rates – M-F $55 w/cart before 10 am, $65 after 10 SA-SU $75 before 10 am, $70 after 10. Daily 3 PM twilight rate – $50
WILLOW CREST (Oak Brook) – The resort course at the Oak Brook Hills Hilton resort is more than meets the eye, a compact layout with 6 top shelf par three’s. You’ll pay $76-80 to play in the warmer weather. Spring Rates thru May 7th – M-TH $55 w/cart, $45 after 2 pm, $35 after 4 F-SU $65, $50 after 2, $40 after 4
BOLINGBROOK – One of two Arthur Hills public courses in Chicagoland, this corn field turned links playground near the I-55 & Weber Road exit has all the bells and whistles one expects for $115. Current Online Rates – M-TH $55 w/cart, $40 after 2 pm F $65, $79 after 10 am, $45 after 2 pm SA-SU $79, $69 after 11 am, $45 after 2 pm
COG HILL (Lemont) – The kingpin of Chicago public golf, the #’s 1 & 3 courses are $53-61 starting in May, while the #2 Ravines course is slightly more at $73, but all are good layouts overshadowed by Dubsdread. Posted Rates thru May 1st – Course’s 1 & 3 – M-F $29 walk/45 ride SA-SU $36/52 Course 2 – $46/62 Daily
COYOTE RUN (Homewood) – Greg Martin redesigned the old Cherry Hills layout in the south suburbs and came up with a winner. Posted Rates thru May 15 – M-F $30 walk/44 ride, $22/32 twilight SA-SU $35/49, $27/37 twilight
FOX BEND (Oswego) – Parkland layout built in 1967 has hosted several state and USGA tournaments. $61 is all it costs in season, but spring is a super bargain. Current Online Rates – M-F $33 w/cart to Noon, $28 to 2 pm, $19 after 2 SA-SU $36 w/cart to Noon, $32 to 2 pm, $24 after 2
HARBORSIDE (Chicago) – 36 hole mega complex off the Bishop Ford Freeway with views of the Chicago skyline is one of the few +$100 Windy City facilities. Inspiring finishes along Lake Calumet on both the Port and Starboard courses. Current Online Rates – M-F $55 w/cart, $45 after 3 SA-SU $65 w/c, $55 after 3 pm
HERITAGE BLUFFS (Channahon) – Ideally located 2 minutes off I-55, this top southwest layout near Joliet has a wide range of memorable holes. $65 summer rates at this park district course. Posted Rates thru May 1st – M-F $23 walk/$40 ride, $23/32 after 1 pm SA-SU $27/44, $27/36 after 1
NAPERBROOK / SPRINGBROOK (Naperville) – The 2 Naperville Park District courses are both good plays, with Naperbrook the prairie links and Springbrook the traditional parkland track. Springbrook in-season is $55-65 w/cart, while Naperbrook is $5 less. Current Online Rates – M-F $39-41 w/cart SA-SU $48-51w/c
RUFFLED FEATHERS (Lemont) – The only Windy City public course with the unmistakable Pete Dye stamp, it’ll cost $95 to tee it up in summertime. Posted Rates thru April 15th – $55 w/cart, $40 after 2 pm
SILVER LAKE (Orland Park) – Long time South Suburban favorite features two 18 hole layouts plus the 9-hole Rolling Hills course, my first experience golfing many moons ago. Prime rates top out in mid-$60’s. Posted Spring Rates – M-F $27 walk/44 ride, $16/26 twilight SA-SU $33/50, $35/45 after 1 pm, $19/29 twilight
TAMARACK (Naperville) – Water is at every turn at this winding neighborhood layout off Route 59, with a steep 73.7 / 136 rating slope on this par 70 track. Summer Rates are near $60. Posted Spring Rates – M-F $30 w/c, $25 after 3 pm SA-SU $40, $30 after 3