Cog Hill Golf and Country Club is located some 30 miles southwest of downtown Chicago in the Des Plaines River Valley. There are four courses at Cog Hill but the one most golfers want to play is the world-renowned No.4 course, otherwise known as “Dubsdread”. We’d love to hear from anyone who knows why No.4 has earned the Dubsdread nickname.
Host to the 2007 BMW Championship, Cog Hill No.4 course is a course for the shot-maker, so it seems fitting that the world’s greatest in that department won the championship by shattering the BMW Championship scoring record, earning his 60th PGA Tour victory. Congratulations Tiger!
To score well on No.4 you’ll need a tidy and accurate driving game as the landing areas are tight. Heavily bunkered greens, which are huge and undulating, put pressure on approach play.
The majority of top-end golf courses in the USA are private members clubs but thankfully Cog Hill is a public access venue thanks to the patriarch of Chicago golf, the late Joe Jemsek. Joe will be remembered for raising the standard of public golf in the USA and for that we applaud him.
Dubsdread was once more the venue for Chicago's only PGA Tour championship when the 2009 BMW Championship returned to Cog Hill after a one-year hiatus when the event was hosted at Bellerive Country Club. In the third round, Tiger Woods broke the course record despite opening his round with a bogey. Tiger’s nine-under-par 62 was more than enough for him notch up his 71st Tour victory, taking the 2009 title on a newly renovated and toughened course.
The “Open Doctor”, Rees Jones, was set the objective to reinstate the original 1964 Dick Wilson and Joe Lee design. The renovation included rebuilding all greens, tees and bunkers, as well as adding a new pond, new tees and new bunkers. Work completed in May 2009 resulting in a more strategic and challenging Dubsdread. Tiger agreed it's now a longer course and Luke Donald reckons the par threes are now "obnoxiously long" but is it a better course?
Dustin Johnson won the 2010 BMW Championship, but several pros criticised Cog Hill’s greens, which prompted owner Frank Jemsek to implement further changes. Justin Rose claimed the 2011 BMW Championship title by two shots from Australia’s John Senden.
Dubsdread is a parkland course near Chicago. Originally, a Dick Wilson and Joe Lee design it was enhanced by Rees Jones about ten years ago. It has a plethora of tee options, and plays long. Certainly, one of the best public courses in the Chicagoland area.
The first hole is along dogleg left with bunkers on the inside elbow and then further on the outside elbow. A high draw is the preferred shot. The slightly elevated green is well protected with two bunkers left and a large bunker right. The green is the shape of an aliens head and twice as wide in the back with a ridge running across at about mid-point. The 2nd is allegedly the 2nd easiest hole on the course. Depending what tees you are playing, it is probably the shortest hole. The table top green is surrounded by 3 BABs. One thing you will notice pretty quickly is the uniqueness of the bunker shapes. The 3rd is slight dogleg left with driving chute. A high draw is desirable. Another slightly elevated green with 2 BAB short left and right rear. The 4th, is what you see is what you get. There are large fairway bunkers on both sides of the fairway in the landing zone. Anothr slightly elevated table top green that is well protected by bunkers. The green is very long and can easily be a two club differential and is much wider at the front. The 5th is a birdie oppty and is the shortest par 5 and definitely reachable. A slight dogleg right with 3 fairway BABs right. If you can cut the corner it will be about 200 yards to another well protected large green. The 6th is par 3 with another tabletop green that is protected by 3 BABs. The 7th is all about the drive. A good drive and you can pin seeking. A slight dogleg right with a water hazard on the inside elbow and bunkers on the outside. This green is shaped like a small letter t, with two bunkers left and right front and then two more above the horizontal. Fun hole. The 8th is the shortest par 4 on the course. The green is two tiered and well protected. The 9th is a mcgilla, a long par 6….I mean par 5. It is tight and only has 3 bunkers. Two of which protect the table top, multi-tiered green. Deservedly, the number one handicap hole.
The back starts with a birdie oppty, slight dogleg left. Large fairway bunker on the outside elbow. You won’t be surprised to hear about the table top green surrounded by 4 bunkers. The long par 5 11th is not nearly as difficult as 9. It actually looks wide open and you can hit 3 average shots and still have a shot at par. There are fairway bunkers right and left in the landing area and while the green is protected it looks like a Walmart parking lot compared to some of the other greens. Depending upon the tees, the 12th may be the shortest hole on the course. An amoeba like green with bunkers left and right, getting your yardage right on the tee box is a key to success. The 13th is one of the best par 4s on the course. Relatively straight, the fairways lists left to right, with OB right and a couple of fairway bunkers on each side. Another elevated green with a ravine in front and the prerequisite bunkers. The 14th is another long par 3. Uphill with the two-tiered green chiseled into the side of the hill it is surrounded by SIX bunkers, none of which are of the pot variety. The 15th is a par 5, teeing off out of a chute over a ravine with fairway bunkers left and right. If you succeed off the tee, this is a birdie oppty. This large green only has two bunkers around it! The 16th is a fun hole, dogleg left around a ravine. Off the tee aim at the fairway bunkers on the outside elbow. If you can cut the corner a wee bit, this will give you a flip wedge to the green. The green has bunkers front right and left, left is death. The 17th is a dogleg right with 3 intimidating fairway bunkers on the outside elbow. Not to be outdone there is ginormous BAB front and right and a large, albeit, more pedestrian greenside bunker left. The 18th is a long demanding finishing hole. The landing area has two fairway bunkers on each side. The green is framed with the omnipresent bunker right and water hazard left. Finish with a par and that is a W
A demanding golf course with impressive bunker design and configurations. I would play it again , if you pay.
A difficult test of golf on rolling hills outside of Chicago. Dubsdread plays long with narrow fairways, difficult rough and elevated greens surrounded by deep penal hazards. Picking the right tees can help play-ability, but the extremely difficult green complexes seem over the top for even a single digit handicap. Not a course I would want to play every day, but a fun test of your game a few times throughout the golf season and was in excellent condition.
Former host to the Western open now known as the BMW championship. After the course was remodeled, many of the PGA TOUR pros were quite vocal about faults with the re-do. I couldn’t disagree more. I thought the redesign absolutely made it a better golf course. It is definitely challenging. It can play very long and the bunkers are definitely penal. Head and shoulders the best public golf course in the Chicagoland area.
Cog Hill isn't a must play but as far as public golf in Chicago, its clearly at the top. I've played it twice since the Rees Jones reno and enjoyed it. The bunkering protecting the greens is great and consequently requires good iron play. Classic american second shot course in which you need to hit the green in the air. Its a fair test though. The routing is so so, doesn't seem to flow like other courses of it's caliber. It was in very good shape both times I played it. I'd play it again anytime and its worth seeking out if you are in the Chicago area without access to the many terrific private clubs they have.
Perfect course for tour events, wouldn't say it is a lot of fun though. It absolutely rewards good ball striking, however, there is often only one way to play many of the holes here. Greens are generally only receptive to towering, high approach shots.