Best Public Golf Courses in Chicago, Illinois

Updated February 2024 to update booking information.

A buddy of mine recently asked me how I would describe the Windy City.  He knows I’ve spent a significant amount of time here for both work and play. 

When I thought about this question, I couldn’t come up with a single way to describe Chicago.  In one breath, it’s damn cold and windy, true to its name.  But in a broader sense, there are lots of layers.  Its citizens are known for being tough, say-it-like-it-is folks.  But there’s also a tremendous amount of culture in the form of sports, music, art, cuisine, etc. 

One thing that is certain, is that there’s a lot of great golf to be played.  I’ve played a few of the public courses, but not nearly all.

That’s why I asked our readers to help me come up with a list of the ten best public tracks any Cubs or White Sox fan can play.

1

Arrowhead Golf Club

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History is a common theme at Arrowhead Golf Club.  It opened its doors for play in 1927.  Three nine-hole layouts combine to form three 18-hole courses. 

Each course is immaculately maintained, and you won’t find houses lining any hole.  Instead, the peace and tranquility of the forest will make you feel like you’re miles removed from the concrete jungle. 

You might want to bring an extra sleeve of balls.  Water comes into play in 17 of the 27 holes. 

If you strike it well though, you can really make some putts on bent grass greens that are some of the truest you’ll find anywhere.

If you want to feel like a member at a private club for a day, and play an iconic round of golf, do it at Arrowhead.

2

Ravisloe Country Club

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Ravisloe dates back to 1901 when a group of members from Chicago’s Standard Club chose a 120-acre site to build a golf course.

The original layout, designed by William Watson, was immediately touted for its championship quality by the likes of Harry Vardon, Ed Ray, and Chick Evans. 

In 1916, Donald Ross left his mark on the course.  This place has quite the history.

Today, the course remains a timeless test for even the best players.  Not overly long, players are asked to play strategically and execute a variety of different shots.

One of the most underrated tracks in the upper Midwest, don’t overlook Ravisloe.

3

Lost Marsh Golf Course

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Lost Marsh sits on the shores of Lake George in the suburb of Hammond. 

A splendid blend of links and parkland holes make a round on this course both fun and interesting. 

Players tout this course’s lush, verdant fairways and fast, smooth greens.  It’s a rare day when you find a bad lie at Lost Marsh. 

Plan on the wind blowing here no matter what time of day you play.  The course’s close proximity to the water doesn’t give it a lot of protection.

Both challenging and fun, you’ll enjoy your time at Lost Marsh.

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Coyote Run is owned and operated by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District.  It’s located just 40 minutes from downtown Chicago.

Coyote Run isn’t the longest course in the world, but it’s always in tip-top shape.  In fact, Dave Ward is the Superintendent.  He was also the Superintendent at Olympia Fields when it hosted the U.S. Open in 2003.  Suffice it to say Dave knows what he’s doing.

The layout is right in front of you and a pleasant mix of holes provide plenty of chances for risk and reward. 

An overall quality experience, be sure not to overlook Coyote Run.

5

Tam O’Shanter Golf Course

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I’ve always been intrigued by nine-hole tracks, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because of their quaint character, or the fact that they tend to fly under the radar.

All of the above are true about Tam O’Shanter golf course.  It was voted the “#1 Nine-Hole Course in Chicagoland” by the Chicago Golf Report.

This track is steeped in history.  The likes of Babe Zaharias, Patty Berg, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, and Arnold Palmer have all spent time here.

Today, it remains a staple on the Chicago golf scene that’s enjoyed by everyone. 

For as much play as Tam O’Shanter gets, it’s always in good shape and the pace moves along.

6

Mt. Prospect Golf Club

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Mt. Prospect was the vision of Seth Raynor all the way back in 1926.  It’s original design features remain largely in place to this day.

A shining example of America’s Golden Age of golf architecture, this course features narrow, tree lined fairways and uniquely shaped greens that have plenty of character.

You don’t need to be a bomber to play here.  Instead, keeping the ball in play and controlling your distances into greens is the recipe for success. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to play Mt. Prospect a number of times and can tell you it more than lives up to its reputation.

7

Flagg Creek Golf Course

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Flagg Creek is another nine-holer that’s easy to overlook. 

Jointly owned and operated by the Pleasant Dale Park District and the city of Countryside, everyone is welcome here.  No one cares how much money you have, where you come from, or how good of a player you are.  Instead, it’s about sharing golf as a common bond.

The course is short and straightforward.  The facilities have anything you need and nothing you don’t.

It’s all about golf at Flagg Creek, and that’s the way it should be.

8

Oak Brook Golf Club

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Oak Brook Golf Club is a classic parkland design.  Holes are lined by pine and oak trees and water comes into play on a number of holes.

There aren’t many surprises out here, but you do need to keep the ball in play.

The greens are said to be some of the best in the area and staying below the hole is a must.  Especially in the summer when they’re at their fastest. 

A treat to play at a reasonable price, there’s a reason locals call Oak Brook a hidden gem.

9

Willow Crest Golf Club

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Willow Crest Golf Club is part of the Oak Brook Hills Resort. 

This is quite the track.  A modern parkland style design, fairways are narrow, but bunkers and lakes are prominently featured. 

The course is a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary where land, water, and wildlife are all protected. 

Along with a layout that’s manicured to a “T”, the amenities and practice facilities are world-class as well.

10

Old Oak Country Club

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Old Oak Country Club dates back to 1926.  Even though the course has witnessed some changes in recent years, mature oak trees and Long Run Creek still give the course its character.

Like a lot of courses in the Chicago area, Old Oak isn’t the longest layout in the world.  But it demands your A-game in terms of accuracy and precision. 

The greens can be treacherous.  Word has it that anything above the hole presents quite the challenge.

One of the best kept secrets in the Chicago area, I’m looking forward to playing Old Oak next time I’m in town.

Conclusion

Golf in the Windy City is something every discerning golfer should experience.  The sheer number and variety of courses available are seemingly unlimited.

Even though the playing season might be a little shorter in this part of the country, people take their golf seriously here.  It’s not hard to see why.

Thanks to all our loyal Chicagoans for taking the time to provide their insights about golf in their fine city. 

For now, I’m feeling a slice of deep dish and the Cubs game is on, so I’d better get going.

Paul Liberatore
Paul Liberatore

As the Founder of Golfers Authority Paul Liberatore Esq. has spent the last 7+ years writing about the best golf equipment or instruction from the top golf instructors in the world. He has been a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated Golf and GolfWRX. After graduating with honors from Purdue University, he realized that he had a passion for the golf business and the law. When he's not practicing law, or creating golf content on YouTube, he can be found on his syndicated Behind the Golf Brand podcast both on Apple and Spotify talking with the most prolific leaders in the golf industry. 

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