Ravisloe Country Club is a Donald Ross designed golf course in south Chicago. It was private for decades, until the recent economic troubles forced it to become public. I played here a couple times when it was private but now that it’s open, I thought I should return with a camera.
What I remember most about Ravisloe was that it was blatantly clear that it was touched by Donald Ross. One only has to look at the bunkering and waste areas around the greens to see, but we’ll get to that.
The clubhouse is a beautiful piece of architecture (as you’ve seen by the above image) but inside it’s just as nice with lots of room to sit and have a drink after your round or a bite to eat.
The course is a 6,321 yard par 70. There are three par-3’s on the front, and only one par 5 on the back (but it’s my favorite hole on the course). There are some short par 4’s, but don’t disregard this course because it’s not 7,000+ yards long. There’s plenty of challenge here; believe me.
There’s a driving range and a short game area for your warm-up, and a practice putting green that’s directly adjacent to the starter. No excuse for being late! I went as a single and was paired up with a twosome. We teed off the first hole just before 8 a.m. on a Sunday.
The first hole is a straight-away par 4 with a bunker on the left to carry. Shouldn’t be too hazardous, but it does set the tone for those “fairway bunkers” Ross is famous for. If you really bomb it, you may be visiting these two bunkers, up the right side.
The second is a par 5 that dogs lazily to the left. The tee shot is relatively open (as long as its straight) but beware on your second. There’s a large bunker on the right side of the fairway at roughly the spot you might layup. Here’s a video of me driving up the fairway:
The third is another par 5 (that’s right, back-to-back par 5’s). Another element that is very Ross-like is the addition of “lumps” of strategically-placed earth near the landing areas of drives. Here’s a picture of what I’m talking about. This is up the left side of the fairway.
The fourth is a 181-yard par 3, facing directly into the sun (this early in the day.) I apologize for the mediocre picture, but take a look at the bunkering; classic Donald Ross. Reminds me of the Donald Ross Course at French Lick I reviewed earlier this year.
And here’s a closer look. This is the bunker in the front of the green on the right-hand side.
The 5th is a short par 4 (only 315 yards) but in the middle of the fairway you’ll find a collection of bunkers. When the course was built they may have provided a hazard, but most will be able to drive over them. That being said, they still provide a visual challenge. Knowing that there are bunkers directly in the middle of a fairway may force you to alter your shot in some way, which almost always proves detrimental. Challenges your mental game.
The 6th is another par 3 into the sun, with the ever-present bunkering I personally love.
The 7th is another par 3 (back-to-back) which has some teeth, and lots of visual trouble. Let’s start with the length… 203 yards.
Next, it’s carry over water, and a lot of carry at that. In the picture below, if you look closely (or view in a larger version) you’ll notice the flag on the left-side of the green, behind a bunker. Not only do you have to fly this ball to 180-190 or so, but you have to hit it with enough loft to get it over the bunker, and stop it by the flag. Truly a challenging par 3. (I bailed to the right, chipped up and 2-putted for a bogey, but I was happy with that.)
The 8th is a 390-yard par 4, but again, it offers fairway bunkers that provide that visual pause. The fairway slopes down after the bunker area, so all you can see from the tee are the bunkers. If you hit it left to avoid, you’ll probably end up behind trees, and if you hit it right you’ll be in some deep stuff, forcing you to go over them.
And here’s a video of me driving around the fairway bunker, then heading towards the green.
The 9th is a straight-forward 405 yard par 4. The challenge is the fairway bunker up the left side. A golfer who hits a fade should be aiming directly at this bunker, causing another potential issue off the tee. The green is also very tiered, and there are bunkers behind the green for those that take too much club. Here’s a view from behind the green.
The tenth is a downhill par 4 with yet another bunker in the fairway, this time on the right. I narrowly missed it, and hit a 150 yard 8-iron to 3 feet for my only birdie of the day! Yeah, I love this hole. If you look close, you can see my ball on the green.
Between the 10th green and 11th tee there is a halfway house. I grabbed a ham and cheese sandwich ($5) and an Arnold Palmer, and kept on moving, per their request:
The 11th is a 226 yard par 3, into the wind. Even with the back tees moved forward a bit, it still plays over 200 yards easily. I hit my hybrid the right distance, but yanked it a bit into the bunker. Beware of the bunkers on the left; better right here. Here’s why:
The thirteenth is the only par 5 on the back, and easily my favorite hole on the course. If you don’t understand or appreciate the bunkering of Donald Ross yet, this hole is the pinnacle of that design style. The hole doglegs to the right, so off the tee you can try to cut off a big chunk of the hole but of course, if you miss by a bit you’ll end up in a large bunker. You can barely see it from the tee, but its there, just under the branches on the right.
Here’s a video of me driving past that big bunker on the right, and moving towards the green, trying to show all of the other bunker positions. Some truly brilliant design on this hole, that’s for sure.
Finally, this was taken from the left side of the fairway as you approach the green. Even 100 yards out there’s lots of trouble. I can’t imagine going for this in two, even if I had the length.
The fifteenth is the last par 3, and it also has the signature bunkering that I’m such a fan of. It’s short (146 yards) but clearly well-guarded.
The course ends on three par 4’s. Sixteen is downhill, seventeen is uphill and 18 takes you back to the clubhouse. Again, from the tee you can see the bunkering in the fairway but here on 18, it’s up both sides. This is easier to see if you look at a larger version of this picture.
Here’s a view of an approach to the green, directly behind the fairway bunkers on the left.
Truly a strong finishing hole. When exiting the green you have a great view of this Spanish-style clubhouse.
If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed playing at Ravisloe Country Club. It’s not long, but there are enough challenges (most of them mental challenges) to keep this game interesting. In addition, I love playing courses that aren’t surrounded by houses and developments. This track has it all, and I strongly recommend you play it, now that it’s open to the public. If you need a fourth to complete your group, just contact me, and if I’m open I’ll meet you there.