Robert Trent Jones Jr. has been vocal about his commitment to ecologically-friendly golf course construction over the past few decades, and this philosophy is in practice at ThunderHawk Golf Club, the first public-access course in Illinois to receive Audubon certification. Much of the course is open, with native marshland and prairie preserved between the holes, with a few playing through strands of forest.
The course’s branding features a capital letter for both the “T” and “H” in "ThunderHawk," but perhaps they should have considered “H” and “A,” because it’s the second holes that make the biggest splash on both halves. At No. 2, players can take a longer fairway left, or they can opt for a daring carry across a pond to offer a better angle to the green. Completing that step, they’ll need to avoid a Road-style pot bunker to the right of the green before they can putt for eagle.
No. 11 is much more reachable, playing 520 yards from the back tees, but an area of marsh separates the green-side and tee-sides of the fairways. Do you trust your second shot to cross?
I'm not a huge Jones family fan but Thunderhawk is a pretty interesting design that is a treat to have in the Chicago public golf scene, despite being as far north in IL as you can get. The par 5's are all interesting and requite strategy in order to capitalize. There are tons of fun shots like the driveable 8th and the sloping green at 17. Not enough people make the long trek up to Thunderhawk but its a must see, one of the top 10 public courses in the area.
I had to glance at which Jones handled this design but your reaction tipped me off. It's been my experience that RTJ2 differentiates himself enough from his brother and father as to deserve being separated from them when discussing the "Jones" school of design.