A few keen golfers, who wanted their own private male-only members club with an unpretentious and casual atmosphere, set up Black Sheep Golf Club in 1999. They enlisted a former Ohio State golfer called David Esler to fashion 27 holes that would rival the best inland links courses in the US.
140 acres of native prairie grasses and wild flowers were planted throughout the former 285-acre farmstead on which the 27 holes were routed. The aim was to restore the land to mirror the pre-settlement landscape of Native Americans and the result is rather impressive.
A fantastic 27 hole links course where you would least expect it. Generous fairways and large greens, but don’t be deceived. If you end up in one of the severe bunkers or stray from the fairway into the fescue, you will be in big trouble. Brilliantly designed from a strategic standpoint, many of the holes feature “speed slots“ on the fairways. Taking the most challenging line will result in a tremendous advantage if you can pull it off. But if you can’t, you’re looking at double bogey. Conversely, playing conservatively will work, but you won’t get very many birdies. In short, everyone can play here. Not a single weak hole on the property. In my view, best time to play is late September through early October when the fescue is up and takes on a brilliant shade of purple.
I've had the chance to play Black Sheep twice now and it's one of the few golf courses that I've given an excellent rating. As a golf architecture fanatic, I feel fortunate to have even been provided and opportunity to play this track. There are literally no bad golf holes here and if you are in the Chicago land area, I can guarantee you that you won't find a more serene setting (sidenote: I've never played Chicago Golf Club). This mens only club offers a casual experience which is a rarity for such an elite golf club. It is not stuffy at all and the members and the staff were all very friendly. The greens were fast and the conditioning was superb both times I played it. I cannot say enough about the beauty of this golf club.
If I could be a member anywhere in Illinois, make me a member here! 27 holes give you a heathland/links vibe yet you look out over a sea of corn making for a pleasantly jarring experience.
The best of the property is along the north side as it dips down from the clubhouse on the outgoing 9 and then travels along and around creeks and ponds.
David Esler is a very underrated architect and this is one of his gems and one of the best in Illinois for sure!