Keith Foster has cultivated a knack for moving earth, but typically it's for one of his many accomplished restoration projects. When brought on to redesign the Spartan Meadows Golf Club (a Larry Packard design from the ‘70s), he used it to create a faux-links persona west of Chicago. The result is the Highlands of Elgin, a course open to the general public (unlike its predecessor).
Among the visual highlights is the land raised to create a dunes-like atmosphere for holes such as No. 4, a par three with significant green movement, backed by bunkers and a hill-full of fescue. Some of the land’s movement could not be helped, which is not necessarily to the detriment of the course. No. 11, the number one handicap hole, features a Cape-like tee shot, as the entire left side of the hole tumbles a long way down to the property’s primary pond.
Features that are a touch more links-like include a number of centerline bunkers, and almost every green has several levels for flag-pin possibilities.
Highlands is an awesome public track designed by Keith Foster. There's tons of variety and lots of interesting holes. Its wide open and exposed to the wind but is plenty playable for the every man. Its wildly underrated and is one of the best public offerings in Chicago.
Bad 'ole Keith Foster designed the front 9 and his former assistant Art Schaupeter designed the back 9. The course loses marks for poor walkability. I'm sure the routing was largely influenced to spread out the 4 holes around the quarry across the 18. The beautiful par 3 7th is the highlight of the quarry holes, but there are many memorable holes besides them. Centerline bunkers, fescue, and fairway bunkers make the tee shots more challenging than most approach shots and greens. Great value for the quality of course.