I’ve played Pine Meadow 4-5 times in the past, and have always been impressed with the conditioning. It costs about $100 to play (with cart) which is a bit more than most, but it is an above average layout, so worth it once in awhile. Since I was only in Chicago for the weekend, and only had time to play one 18-hole round, it was a pretty easy choice.
On this visit, I had to rent a set of clubs for the first time. I will say that the rental set was probably one of the nicest sets I’ve seen in a long time (since Vegas for sure). The cost was $40, but all the clubs matched (King Cobra), all were relatively new and most importantly, all of the grooves were clean. It’s surprising how many golf courses let their rental clubs continue to collect dirt in the grooves and never clean them. That’s not the case at Pine Meadow golf course; much appreciated guys!
I was playing with my father-in-law, and decided on the Blues (almost 6,600.) I was willing to play Whites to accommodate his shorter (although more accurate) game, but he decided Blues were fine. We played with a single that turned out to have a pretty good game, and we were off.
The course starts out with a slight dogleg right par 4, measuring 351. All of our tee shots were in play, and we were all left with less than 150 yards to the green. I hit it a bit long (blame the rental club differences in distance), and chipped to 3 feet and parred the hole; good start.
The second is a par 5 (523 yards). The tee shot is a little blind if you’ve never played before. My suggestion is to hit it over the trees and/or cart path on the right side of the fairway. It’s a very wide fairway, and allows room for error so let it fly.
Hit your second so you’re left with a comfortable distance for your approach. This is the #1 handicap hole on the course, and a lot of the challenge is on the green.
The third is one of my favorite holes on the course. It’s a 422 yard par 4 dogleg left, with water up the left side. The safer you play it, the longer your approach to the green will be. So, if you bail out to the right (like I did) you’ll be left with a 180+ yard approach. Here’s the tee shot:
It may not look like it, but it could be the most challenging tee shot on the course. It’s the first water hazard on the course, and the water is much more top-of-mind when standing on the tee than the picture shows. Here’s a shot towards the green standing near the left edge of the fairway:
The fourth is a straightaway par 5, with a reasonably wide fairway and no fairway bunkers, so let the tee shot fly. As you approach the green, the bunkers really start to show their teeth. Here’s what my approach looked like the day I played:
Six is another very straight hole, measuring 401. The difference is that there are fairway bunkers here (on both sides), so be wary. I ended up in the bunker on the left but was far enough from the lip to get an iron about 25 feet in front of the green.
The eighth is a par 3, measuring 148 yards. On the day we played, it only measured 135. There are some deep bunkers in the front left, and one that runs the entire length of the green on the right. The green slopes from back to front, so it’s pretty receptive to well-struck irons. I missed a birdie putt here, but had a great chance; you should too.
Heading back to the clubhouse, the ninth only measures 362 from the Blues. I normally would hit a 3-wood here, but I can’t seem to find the perfect club that I can hit off a tee AND from the fairway, so I took driver. Luckily I hit it well but really, a 3-wood would be fine. There are bunkers left and right, but the green is relatively flat and visible. If you look close (or blow the below picture up to full size) you can see the group in front of us on the green.
We quickly stopped at the turn for a few drinks and a restroom break. As we approached the tenth tee the foursome in front of us waived us through, as they were finishing their hot dogs and brats. After this, we didn’t have anyone in front of us and we finished 18 holes with three people in 3:40. Awesome!
Pine Meadow golf course has one of the strongest back 9’s in the Chicago area. For an upscale daily fee, the challenge combined with the scenery on the back is impressive, as you’ll see.
The tenth has a downhill tee shot, and water on the left bordering the green. If you hit your tee shot far enough up the right side, you may not even cross the water on your approach. With a good tee shot, this is a potential birdie hole for sure. Here’s the tee shot:
And my approach (missed a long birdie putt here, but definitely an opportunity):
The eleventh is a slight dogleg right, with a bunker up the right side of the fairway. Be wary, and aim up the left when teeing off. Here’s the view from the tee:
The green is relatively flat and receptive, but impressively surrounded by bunkers. This was taken from the right rough, but you can see 4 bunkers surrounding the green. Because of this, a short iron is much preferred over a long one for your approach.
Twelve is easily my favorite par 3 on the course, and in my top 5 in Chicago. The green is an odd shape (almost like an italic figure 8, if that makes sense), and is well-bunkered. In addition, its 50 yards from back to front, meaning you might hit a wedge one day and a 6-7 iron the next. Finally, the undulation of the green seems to be a bit more than other greens, although that may just be the way I remember it. All in all this is a rock solid par 3, and one you won’t soon forget. Here’s the tee shot (the flag is behind the left bunker):
The thirteenth is a 502 yard par 5. There is water that runs through the fairway that isn’t obvious when standing on the tee, so be aware of it. It’s about 270 out, so unreachable for most but still good to know it’s there. Here’s the tee shot:
And here’s a shot from just in front of the water. Lots of bunkers for miss-hits and those feeling strong. My suggestion is to lay up to the left side of the fairway, which should leave you with an uphill shot and a full wedge.
On the fourteenth you cross back over the same creek you did on 13. The water is potentially in play up the right side. Because of that, it may force you to hit it to the left a bit, which in turn makes for a longer approach to the green (almost the flip version of hole #3.) Here’s the tee shot; the green is to the right:
And here’s one standing in front of the water. Note that the creek actually turns towards the green, making it a very difficult tee shot. Consider yourself warned.
Fifteen is almost two holes in one. Depending on where they place the Blue tees, it’s either a 460 or 551 yard par 5. Either way, it’s a tough hole. It’s a dogleg left, but regardless of tee shot, there is a collection of bunkers up the left side that are waiting to swallow an errant shot. From the tee, you can just barely see them up the left side…
But once you get closer, you’ll see that they’re an impressive bunch of bunkers.
After the tee shot it turns into a downhill approach, with the possibility of going for the green in two. If you look closely, you can see the pin and if you have a strong fade, it’s worth a shot. Really, this may be one of my most memorable views of Pine Meadow. I love this hole.
Sixteen is a 384 yard par 4, with a slight dogleg left. Here’s the tee shot; you’ll eventually be aiming for the huge flagpole on the left.
I took driver rather than 3-wood and hit it in the fairway, leaving myself with a downhill approach. Not my favorite lie, but luckily the green slopes back to front so I got away with a stronger-than-expected wedge. As I said, I aimed right for the flagpole.
Seventeen is the easiest hole on the course, a par 3 measuring 150 yards. The difficulty here is the three-tiered green, putting a premium on your tee shot and distance control.
The finishing hole (405 yard par 4) at Pine Meadow golf course calls for a fade off the tee, due to the overhanging branches on the right, and the hole playing as a dogleg right. Luckily, I have that shot (well, at least on the day I played it I did.)
The approach is over water to a reasonably flat green, with some visually intimidating bunkers behind it.
The cost of playing Pine Meadow golf course may keep some away from it. If that’s you, I might consider looking for a deal, or a twilight rate, or possible walking (or all three.) The lack of houses on the course, the water flowing through it and the impressive amount of older trees on the property make Pine Meadow a must play… at least once.