Jack Nicklaus routed The Club at Wynstone fairways around a substantial residential development at the end of the 1980s, wrapping many of the holes around Lake Sheree. The Golden Bear then returned in 2015 to renovate the layout, changing grass types on fairways and greens, as well as improving the drainage properties of the bunkers.
In The American Private Golf Club Guide, author Daniel Wexler has this to say about the course:
“Built over wooded, lake-filled terrain, Wynstone is one of the better Nicklaus designs of its period, though with water in play on at least 12 holes (often quite invasively), the less-skilled player may occasionally feel overmatched.
Wynstone is no longer ranked as loftily as it once was but it’s certainly still exciting, and generally viewed as one of the best twenty-five layouts in the state.”
I was a little bit surprised by how much I enjoyed Wynstone. The course plays a mean 75.0/145 from the tips, which I mistakenly volunteered to play to impress my sister’s in-laws, but being beat up by a golf course has never been so much fun! As Wynstone is a residential club, there are houses along the boundaries of nearly every hole, but in almost all cases they are set back quite far and separated from the course by trees or water, making them far less of a distraction than most golf course subdivision homes. The condition of the course was absolutely impeccable, from the mowed rough to the lush bentgrass fairways and greens as fast and smooth as almost any I’ve ever putted.
The course is routed in all different directions, and until you get onto the lake holes in the middle of the course, figuring out the wind direction is a huge challenge. It’s for the most part a typical Jack Nicklaus design, where everything is laid out in front of you and there isn’t much in the way of deception or blind shots. The terrain is mostly flat, but where it is not it is used very well in creating green complexes that are challenging without bunker overkill.
Among the most memorable/challenging holes on the front side are: #5, a roller-coaster double-dogleg par four with a heavily mounded green and a nasty pot bunker in front, #6, an awesome short dogleg right par four playing “against the grain” around a hill with an elevated multi-tier green fronted by a small pond, #9, a massive, wide-open but potentially reachable par five with bunkers galore. The best hole on the course is #10: this dogleg right par four bends around a lake on the left (it’s as clever as it sounds), forcing the player to drive uncomfortably close to the trees on the right to get the best angle into the green. The rest of the back nine includes #12, a risk/reward par five with a small green on a little peninsula, and the great trio of long par fours #15-#17, all of which will punish the poor strike with the driver and require a mid-iron into the green even after a good drive.
Wynstone is easily the best Jack Nicklaus course I have ever played and holds up to its ranking as one of the best courses in Illinois.
Played October 14, 2016