I made a return visit to Chicago Golf Club. We had the first (and one of only three tee times on the day due to the weather forecast of rain) and our foursome played in 2:56.
I have said before that I think Chicago GC is the finest "flat" course in the world. After seeing the restoration work by Tom Doak, which is nearly completed, I think even more highly of it. I am now beginning to believe it is likely the best of Seth Raynor's work, surpassing Fishers Island. Obviously, what sets Fisher Island apart is the many magnificent holes on the water, as well as holes three to five and eleven to fourteen. Yet Chicago manages to create interest on every hole, regardless of the plain that it was built on. It does this through a magnificent routing of holes that are long and short, that are straight or bend, a fabulous placement of bunkers and interesting greens.
The recent work by Tom Doak has added fourteen bunkers, four of which are on the difficult second hole as well as a well-placed center line bunker on fifteen. Many of the faces of the bunkers have been raised. Unlike newer courses being built by today's most in-demand architects, where the bunkers often are only "eye candy," the bunkers at Chicago are nearly always in play.
Many of the green surrounds have been changed, with run-offs added. The run-offs replaced taller grass at the edges of many of the greens, which would stop a ball from traveling too far away for a shot that came into the green with too much pace. Now, the edges of the greens must be avoided. These fall-offs are rarely severe where one's ball could run more than twenty feet away, and the slopes are generally more gentle allowing the possibility of utilizing a putter for recovery.
The rough has been allowed to slightly thicken, or at least it appeared thicker where I missed a fairway than on my previous visits. And yet, it is only mid-May; it makes me wonder what the course looks and plays in the height of summer.
Chicago GC is one of the best walks in all of golf, despite not having views of water. The only interesting non-golf course view from the course is the clubhouse. Yet the views across the course are amazing where one can see some of the higher points of the course for a few tees and raised greens.
It is a special places.
Date: May 19, 2021