500 Washington Avenue,
Illinois (IL) 60022,
- +1 847 835 5835
10 miles N of downtown Chicago
Members and their guests only
The Links of Skokie Country Club, as it was originally called, has a long history that dates back to 1897 when a group of wealthy Chicago businessmen bought the property on which the golf course at Skokie Country Club now occupies. It is thought that the village of Skokie – a Chicago suburb – acquired its name from a Potawatomi Indian word for “marsh”.
Skokie Country Club started out in life as a 9-hole course which was redesigned by Thomas Bendelow in 1904. Skokie acquired the Donald Ross moniker after the great architect paid the club a visit in 1914, adding archetypical bunkering and domed greens. Skokie played host to the 1922 US Open, the first at which tickets were sold. A record number of spectators witnessed a spectacular win by a certain 20-year-old Gene Sarazen.
In the late 1930s, following the acquisition of more land, William Langford and Theodore Moreau were commissioned to redesign Skokie with one eye focused on Donald Ross’s earlier intentions. Rees Jones made some minor modifications in the early 1980s, but the course in play at Skokie today is largely in the design image and likeness of Langford and Moreau.
Perhaps Skokie’s best hole is the double dogleg par five 11th which is heavily bunkered from fairway to green and flanked on the right by a brook.
I was somewhat surprised at the tremendous quality of the course at Skokie. I think it flies under the radar even locally. One of the more difficult classic courses I have played with deep, steep faced fairway bunkers I seemed to find frequently off the tee. Greens were fast and impeccably maintained. One of the features I liked best was the added touch of growing natural fescue areas in between the mature trees that dot the course. Very cool attention to detail.
The Squire won the US Open here in 1922. At age 95, Mr. Sarazen visited the club for their centenary in 1997 and commented “there weren’t as many trees here when I won the US Open”.
Skokie is one of the most underrated courses in the country, and after the recent renovation to re-grass the golf course; the conditions can only be described as absolutely perfect. The fairways are firm/fast and the greens are sublime to putt on. You won’t see a single old hole on any green or blade of grass out of place. The ironic thing is that these greens are really huge, but the undulations and false fronts work so well. A unique characteristic is that no two holes run in the same, which offers a fabulous routing.
There have been a number of architects that have works on the property over the past 100+ years, but the majority of the architecture is from Donald Ross. One can’t speak enough about the green complexes. They have the ideal combination of beauty and intimidation. The renovation work introduced fantastic aprons around the greens, which has evolved into players putting from off the greens. The fairways are generous, but it’s immediately evident that the difficulty multiplies as you get closer to the daunting green sites, as is typical on a Ross golf course. Your second shot on every hole will dictate whether you make par or not. I was greatly impressed with many architectural features of the course, but none more so than the cross-bunkers on the fairways that had been restored. They were really well positioned to make you think hard about club selection and strategy on the longer holes.
If you secure an invitation, I hope you’ll be hitting your irons well; otherwise you’ll be in for a long day! This refreshed layout is moving fast into the top echelon of courses in the Chicago area.