Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play: Illinois

When judging the best public-access golf courses in Illinois, it’s apropos that the top track was built with a singular focus on offering John Q. Public the same kinds of playing conditions and atmosphere found at many elite private clubs.

Joe Jemsek, a former caddie and PGA Tour player, had that mission when building Cog Hill No. 4, named Dubsdread (pictured atop this story), in Palos Park on the southwest outskirts of Chicago.

Golfweek ranks courses by compiling the average ratings – on a points basis of 1 to 10 – of its more than 750 raters to create several industry-leading lists of courses. That includes the popular Best Courses You Can Play list for courses that allow non-member tee times. These generally are defined as layouts accessible to resort guests or regular daily-fee players.

Cog Hill No. 4 Dubsdread is No. 1 in the Prairie State on that list. Designed by Dick Wilson – who died before the course could be completed – and Joe Lee to open in 1964, and renovated by Rees Jones in 2008, No. 4 has hosted several USGA amateur and PGA Tour championships. It is one of four courses at Cog Hill, the first two of which were open in 1951 when Jemsek bought the property with a dream of turning it into an elite destination for public-access players.

Cog Hill No. 4 Dubsdread 2

The Dubsdread moniker was borrowed from a course of the same name in Orlando, with a dub being a poorly skilled golfer and Dubsdread chosen to indicate the difficulty of the course. The championship-quality layout features tight landing areas and severely bunkered greens, putting high demands on shotmaking. (Cog Hill formerly was located in Lemont, but a recent annexation has the official address now listed as Palos Park.)

The No. 2 public-access layout in Illinois also has a PGA Tour pedigree. TPC Deere Run in Silvis, designed by Tour pro D.A. Weibring on rolling hills alongside Rock River and opened in 2000, is the annual host site of the Tour’s John Deere Classic. As with Cog Hill No. 4, it was built with the intent to allow recreational golfers to sample the playing challenged faced by top professionals.

TPC Deere Run

Stonewall Orchard, designed by Arthur Hills and opened in 1999 in Grayslake, is No. 3 on the public-access list for Illinois. No. 4. on the list is Highlands of Elgin, followed by No. 5 The Glen Club in Glenview.

Illinois is also home to a slew of elite private clubs, several of which have hosted major championships, with Chicago Golf Club, Shoreacres and Butler National leading the way on Golfweek’s Best list of private courses in the state.

Check out all the best of golf in Illinois below.

Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play in Illinois

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The following are Golfweek’s Best Courses You Can Play in Illinois:

1. Cog Hill GC (No. 4-Dubsdread)
Palos Park (m)

2. TPC Deere Run
Silvis (m)

3. Stonewall Orchard
Grayslake (m)

4. Highlands of Elgin
Elgin (m)

5. The Glen Club
Glenview (m)

6. Thunderhawk
Beach Park (m)

7. Eagle Ridge (The General)
Galena (m)

8. Preserve at Oak Meadow
Addison (m)

9. Weaver Ridge
Peoria (m)

10. Mistwood
Romeoville (m)

11. Ravisloe
Homewood (c)

T12. Cantigny
Wheaton (m)

T12. Harborside International (Starboard)
Chicago (m)

14. Mt. Prospect
Mount Prospect (c)

15. Prairie Landing*
West Chicago (m)

(m): modern, opened in or after 1960
(c): classic, opened before 1960

Golfweek’s Best Private Courses in Illinois

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The following are Golfweek’s Best Private Courses in Illinois:

1. Chicago GC
Wheaton (No. 8 c)

2. Shoreacres
Lake Bluff (No. 19 c)

3. Butler National
Oak Brook (T42 m)

4. Beverly
Chicago (c)

T5. Old Elm
Highland Park (T59 c)

T5. Olympia Fields (North)
Olympia Fields (No. 61 c)

7. Medinah CC (No. 3)
Medinah (T76 c)

8. Black Sheep
Sugar Grove (T82 m)

9. Skokie
Glencoe (T90 c)

10. Olympia Fields CC (South)
Olympia Fields (c)

11. Chicago Highlands
Westchester (m)

12. Conway Farms
Lake Forest (m)

13. Flossmoor GC
Flossmoor (c)

14. Merit Club
Libertyville (m)

15. Medinah CC (No. 1)
Medinah (c)

(m): modern, opened in or after 1960
(c): classic, opened before 1960

– For courses with a number in parenthesis preceding the “c,” the number indicates that course’s ranking on Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses list.

More Golfweek’s Best

Click on the following to see more of where Illinois’ courses land on the various Golfweek’s Best lists:

  • Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses
  • Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses
  • Golfweek’s Best Campus Courses
  • Golfweek’s Best Residential Courses