With eight holes routed around five lakes and Long Run Creek, there’s no shortage of aquatic challenge on the course at Big Run Golf Club, where Harry B. Smead set out the well-bunkered fairways in 1930.
With Cog Hill and Ruffled Feathers just a driver and mid iron away - Big Run GC tends to get overlooked by people looking for a tee time in the Chicagoland suburbs...and it's honestly a shame.
The oldest of the Des Plaines River Valley, Big Run is a 90+ year old gem of a Golf Course designed by C.H. Muelenford and Sam Sneed that stretches it's "old bones" out to 7000yds. The course wanders through tall majestic oak trees and over/through Long Run creek. It's a step back in time with an older clubhouse, scoreboard, and feel...but one that brings golfers back to the era of shaping shots and tactical game planning to get your ball close to the hole.
Your first dose of "flashback golf" comes on the opening hole, where a steep downhill par 4 through a narrow chute of trees awaits. Driver is NOT the play, as all you need to do is find an opening in the fairway to have a look at the aggressively sloped green. Don't worry though...the routing gets into a rhythm throughout the rest of your round.
Par 3's are a tale of two sides, as the front 9 par 3's are a delightful oasis, while the two on the back 9 are bold and daring adventures. While the "signature" hole is the 225yd 13th that plays directly over Long Run Creek, I'm more partial to the 4th - which plays at 160yds and offers a bunch of friendly tiers to try for a strong start to your round.
Par 4's mostly stay in the 370-430yd range (unless the tees are WAY back on 6) and provide some fun challenges alongside and over Long Run Creek. The 10th is a REALLY fun driveable par 4 that plays straight downhill to a taco-sloped green. I'll also give the 11th some props as well, as the approach up the hill to a 2 tiered green is a fun shot framed nicely by the hillside.
Par 5's put the BIG in Big Run. Either 540 or 600yds, the par 5's don't really give you a chance to score well (with the exception of 5) and focus more on stringing together 3 really good shots in order to get to the green. The 18th is the best of the 5's and gives players one last chance to either score well - or burn up a solid round with a high number.
Big Run isn't the sexiest golf course in it's area, nor is it in the best shape compared to it's neighbors to the east...but it's a tremendously fun golf experience that takes players back to a more "simple" era of golf. The price is reasonable, the drinks are cold, and the surprising amount of elevation change makes for a good reason to poke your head in if you're visiting the west suburbs of Chicago.
(Images provided by Big Run GC)
Solid course. Incredibly hilly and the layout isn't always efficient at times so walking can be a challenge. Course was in great shape with lush rush and manicured fairways. Just over 6600 from the whites with most of the distance coming on the two huge par 5's that close out each nine. Seems like every shot has some sorta elevation to deal with and gives the par 3's something to think about. Most greens are elevated and well guarded by bunkers. You'll get some challenging looks off the tee boxes especially no 5 where you'll be hitting through a goalpost of trees. The course is loaded with mature trees so it pays to be accurate and consider less than driver on a few holes, especially the tempting no 10 where long hitters can go for the green or wind up in heavy jail. The par 5 9th has one of the most rolling fairways I've ever seen where even a 300yd drive leaves you 300 out and leaving perplexing decision of where to land your second shot if you want to find a flat lie. Course has partial paved cart paths so knowing where to go can be a bit confusing at times.
Big Run is the wildest piece of land I've ever seen in the state of Illinois, and its unfortunate that the course has had constant rumors of closing. Its an old school course that features dramatic holes routed over the hills, through trees and around the meandering creek. It reminds me somewhat of poor man's Olympia Fields, occupying an interesting piece of land with an old school field. It features so many things you wouldn't normally see, like the wild 600 yard par 5 ninth and the dramatic par 3 7th that plays straight uphill. The three Dick Nugent par 3's that are mixed in makes the routing lose a little steam but its still a really cool place. If some money and a good architect were put into the course it could be something reallyyyyy special.