“Drainage, drainage, drainage” is a brief summary of most golf course architects’ first steps when designing a course. Unfortunately, the initial route at Oak Meadows did not take this enough into consideration, and Salt Creek frequently over-flooded the property. Finally, Greg Martin was brought in to redesign the course, with emphasis on elevating the fairways and greens. That, and some strategic tinkering, is the current Preserve course at the property.
Players may not be dealing with mushy turf anymore, but players will certainly have water as far as the eye can see. Built among marshland that collects excess water from the creek, The Preserve features many forced carries from tee-to-fairway and, in many cases, additional stretches of marsh that separate fairway from green.
No. 12 is an example of what Martin did with the property to make such terrain an asset: At 365 yards, players won’t be able to carry the second stretch of marsh, but will face a tricky approach regardless of how close they come. The green may be on an island in the marsh, but it’s a large one, with ample flag placement possibilities.
A fun and interesting course. The conditions ebb and flow throughout the year, but typically are pretty strong. Many holes require strategy off the tee, and often not with a driver.
Oak Meadows was for a long time a complete droll. It was a 27 hole property prone with flooding and claustrophobic, goofy holes. The Greg Martin renovation recently changed this, creating an 18 hole track with great conditions that can play fast and firm and has a couple notable holes.
My main problem with the new design is the bunkering. Obviously they're in good condition but they're not well placed to enforce strategy, for the most part cutting off options and forcing layups for any sensible player. The main offense to this is the ninth, a long dogleg par four who's bunkers force the player to layup to at least 200 yards out, as the fairway is too narrow around and past them to allow for a more aggressive play. Similar atrocities occur on the par 5 13th and short par 4 16th, whose bunkers make it stupid to do anything but lay up, when it could be a really cool driveable hole. These bunkers are honestly pretty useless, as they don't coincide with a good angle and are essentially just roadblocks.
Despite this, the lack of bunkering combined with some interesting greens make some really cool holes. The second is a cool dogleg left par five across a creek that could be made even better with some tree removal up the left side off the tee. The fourth is a really cool driveable hole with a narrow table top green that forces you to be in the right spot depending on the pin. 8 is a great par 3 with a bowled front and brutal back section that can make the hole play extremely different depending on the pin.
The preserve has great junior rates and a great practice facility, making it perfect for the local community. Some slight changes to the bunkering and trees (including the atrocious seventh hole) could make the course even better. While it is on a marshy piece of property it is still decently playable, despite the 3rd and tenth, two par threes over Salt Creek that are typically dead into the wind. A decent course to check out if in the area, however, Mt. Prospect is only 15 mins north.