A mid-1980s Joe Lee and Rocky Roquemore creation superimposed over a 1929 William Flynn layout, Pine Meadow Golf Club is now a thoroughly modern course that sports no fewer than seven sets of tees, which range from 7,238 to 5,272 yards.
“With the golf course having morphed well away from Flynn’s original version, its operation was taken over by Cog Hill’s Joe Jemsek, who brought in Joe Lee for a large renovation,” commented Daniel Wexler in The Chicago Area Golf Guide. “The result was a track which retains part of Flynn’s routing but looks much more like the pre-Rees Jones Cog Hill than a Golden Age classic, with plentiful bunkering and water affecting play on five holes.”
Tom Doak commented as follows in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses: “This modern public facility looks like an old private club, because it was, so they were able to utilize the older trees and mature parkland as part of the new layout. It’s one of the best public courses around Chicago, but there is nothing that an out-of-towner ought to see.”
It's never a smart idea to toss out the qualities of an original William Flynn design. The present-day Joe Lee course is a testing layout but hardly inspirational. The repetition of the look and overall shots one must play is not especially memorable.
The comments referenced in the preamble of the course by Daniel Wexler are spot on, in my opinion. Ditto what Brian added in his review. Doing a meaningful upgrade -- with a nod towards classic architecture elements -- would be a real improvement but alas, not likely to happen.
The course espouses a 1960s big and broad shoulder muscular look and while such creations years ago were favored the style now wanes because the concept for "big" looking features provides previous little in terms of subtle and more endearing design elements.
For those who relish such courses your time will be well spent. For those who are more discerning - it's likely you will be hoping for so much more but realizing that's not going to be the case here.
M. James Ward
William Flynn was originally hired to build a course on the grounds of St. Mary's in Mundelein, now Pine Meadow, after the archbishop's doctor recommended he get more exercise. The land is extremely undulating and different from most of the flat, boring courses sprinkled throughout Chicago's public golf landscape.
Unfortunately, the Flynn course was virtually obliterated by Joe Lee in the 80's. However, much of Flynn's original routing can still be seen in today's layout, as old aerials show that 8 or so holes lie in similar corridors and maintain similar greensites. This can be evidenced by the slender yet really cool 15th green, and the massively raised 8th, which were surely not the brainchild of Lee.
Seeing the massive grass hollows long of 8 green that were clearly bunkers at one point show how cool the Flynn course must've been. Although it seems extremely unlikely that it will ever occur, a restoration would be sure to attract big name architects and cement the course higher in the annals of Chicago golf lore.