700 Vine Avenue,
Illinois (IL) 60035 USA
- +1 847 432 3600
25 miles N of downtown Chicago
Members and their guests only
Donald Ross, Ron Prichard
Exmoor Country Club was inaugurated in 1896 and was a founding member of the Western Golf Association in 1899. One of the early clubs in the Chicago area, the Exmoor course in play today is largely a Donald Ross design from 1915.
Host venue for the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 1933 and the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur in 1965, Exmoor was also the home club for three of members who won the U.S. Amateur: Chandler Egan (1904 & 1905); Chick Evans (1916 & 1920); and Davidson Herron (1919).
In The American Private Golf Club Guide, author Daniel Wexler describes the course as “a flat, reasonably interesting parkland course which follows much of Ross’s routing (minus five original holes) and retains a bit of his bunkering.” Ron Prichard completed a course restoration here in 2003.
Exmoor is one of the hallmarks of the powerhouse clubs on the North Shore. Its a thriving place, with much more than just golf. The beautiful clubhouse, pool, tennis, and paddleball courts make it a great destination for the prosperous northern suburbs. The club has even sent multiple curling teams to the winter olympics.
The course itself is a Donald Ross course, most recently renovated by Ron Pritchard, but rumor has it the club has contracted Andrew Green to create a master plan for the course. The greens are one of the main things that stand out at Exmoor - fast, undulating, and wildly different. The routing and flared bunkering has been changed somewhat over the years but mostly maintain the character which Mr. Ross intended.
My personal favorite holes are the redan style 8th, the tight dogleg ninth, and the 18th which sits on the hillside surrounded by the clubhouse. Another great green can be found at the par three 12th, which pitches extremely hard from back to front making distance control critical.
Overall, Exmoor is a great place to spend an afternoon. With so many great clubs on the North Shore, some courses can seemingly run together. But the land, architecture, and conditioning all make for a stand out golf course.
Great course for sub-zero handicaps to 100 shooters. Exquisite greens. New superintendent has the course playing firm and fast. Great challenge. And great fun too. A tough combination to balance, but Exmoor does it. The perfect members’ course.
Just to the east of Saunton Golf Club’s fine East Course lies the Exmoor region of Devon, site of Richard Blackmore’s romantic novel, Lorna Doone. The book was such a sensation in turn of the century America that the Yale University student body voted it their favorite novel in 1906. The members of what was then Highland Park Golf Club north of Chicago were also fascinated by Blackmore’s work…………so much so that they changed the name of their cub to Exmoor.
They made more good decisions in later years, hiring Donald Ross to build their golf course and Ron Prichard to restore Ross’s work some 90 years later. As is his usual practice, Prichard restored bunkers, removed trees, and reclaimed parts of greens, improving the course considerably. The tenth is a fine example. From the right tee, the player appears to be confronted with a wall of bunkers crossing the entire fairway. As (s)he gets closer, it’s apparent that the left half of the wall is 80 yards farther down the fairway. Dr. Mackenzie was not golf’s only brilliant camouflager.
Unlike most of Ross’s work, the routing is not a strong point. The first holes of the back nine give a déjà vu sensation, as the first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth form a horseshoe on the perimeter of the property and are too similar to the tenth, eleventh, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth, respectively. Nor are the greens nearly as interesting as the top tier of Ross courses. Nonetheless, Exmoor provides a fun round on a course with an unusual name.