Ravisloe Country Club was founded in 1901, when Theodore Moreau and James Foulis laid out a course for the members within what had previously been known as the Briggs Farm in Homewood, Illinois. Within a decade, another fifty-five acres of adjacent land was acquired, allowing the club to commission a William Watson redesign of the layout.
Following advice received from a number of top professionals such as Harry Vardon and Ted Ray, when it was suggested the course lacked a sufficient number of “traps and pits,” the club called in none other than Donald Ross to carry out a major renovation which lasted several years.
Approaching the club’s centenary celebrations, David Esler was called in to restore the course to its former glory and the results of this work received much critical acclaim. Unfortunately, falling membership numbers forced the club to close soon after, only for it to reopen as a public facility the following year, in 2009.
The course is far from long at only 6,300 yards, playing to a par of 70, with back-to-back par threes at the 6th and 7th and par fives at the 2nd and 3rd. Water comes into play on occasion, with the pond in front of the 7th green and the creek wandering through the 14th and 15th holes as the only significant aquatic hazards.
The feature hole on the back nine is the slightly right doglegged par five 13th, which is carved from dense woodland, with bunkers alternately lining either side of the fairway as it heads to an elevated green. The layout concludes with three par fours, the last of which is laden with more than a dozen fairway and greenside bunkers en route to the home green.
Ravisloe is as a classic Donald Ross design that was private for nearly 100 years. It maintains many of the Ross design elements. I only wish I had been able to play it when the greens would have been running at speed during its days as a private club. Now they tend to run slower due to the amount of public play. Nevertheless, this is one of the better public course options in the Chicagoland area.
As a big Ross fan, this course has long been on my list to play. I finally was able to make it happen. While Ravisloe is now public, it is clear as you enter the property, you are pulling up to a place that was once very special, and the course still is. Gone are the tennis courts, the locker room, caddyshack and one of the halway houses, but the course remains and it is in good shape.
The course has an old world feel. I will say there are an awful lot of good golf holes at Ravisloe, but I can't say any of them are more memorable than the other. I would say the early part of the back nine was most enjoyable. Its kind of secluded for being on a property in the middle of a city. I can also say there are a couple of holes that need some trees trimmed. I don't think its a huge problem, but some angles can get pretty quirky due to overgrown trees.
The greens were in great shape, but fairly slow, I'd imagine that back in the day when the greens were running fast, the course presented quite the challenge. The bunkering on this course is very well done and the green complexes are impressive. The fairways were very plush bent grass.
Overall, Ravisloe was what I expected, I just wish I had the chance to play it about 30 years ago when it was still a thriving club. I'm not sure how many people on here are from Chicago, but if I lived up here and was without a home club, I'd play Ravisloe all the time. There just aren't many opportunities to play courses like this in our country. They are virtually all private. So kudos to the owner for making it a public destination and it seems to me they are doing quite well, the parking lot was full.
Made a trip out to play this Ross course as it is now public. Overall it is a fun course that is a bit over treed. Solid green complexes and good bunkering throughout. The land itself is not too severe. One was a nice gentle handshake that forced the golfer to deal with some bunkers. I thought 8-13 was the strongest stretch on the course and 13 through 15 being the toughest. The trees definitely meant there was a decent amount of quirk to deal with throughout the course. Overall the place has some good bones but could do with some tree removal. My understanding is the the current owner loves the trees so don't expect any big changes in the near future.