We had such a good time on the trip we started discussing possible options for a trip this year. We missed out on an opportunity to play Crystal Downs on the Renaissance Cup trip so we started thinking about building a trip around playing at Crystal. We added some courses in Wisconsin and eventually a plan formed that involved landing in Chicago, driving to Northern Michigan, taking the long way around Lake Michigan to Wisconsin, and back to Chicago.
|Flags from the trip|
The first round of the trip was a solo round early on the first day while I waited for my buddy to land at O'Hare. The private River Forest Country Club in Elmhurst was nice enough to let me play a few holes while I waited for my buddy. The course was designed in the 1920's by Charles Maddox and Frank MacDonald and is only eight miles from O'Hare.
|7th & 8th Holes|
|9th Green looking out on 1st hole and front nine|
|My buddy with our host, TD, on the 8th tee|
|8th Hole. Must have a picture of a fountain on the Fountains course right?|
|8th Hole with 18th & 19th holes in the background|
|9th hole with Clubhouse in the background|
Following a wonderful overnight stay at the Lodge at Forest Dunes, which I highly recommend, we headed out for a round on the Black course at The Loop. Before the trip, I had decided to count The Loop as one golf course for my list of golf courses played because it's the same eighteen greens. After playing The Loop both ways I changed my mind. The Red and Black are completely different golf courses. You never notice you are playing the same greens because of the use of different angles. The Loop is a truly unique achievement in golf course architecture.
|To prove my point from above, here are the 7th Hole on the Black & 11th hole on the Red, same green, different angles|
|12th & 14th holes|
|13th Hole with carved Eagles sculpture|
|Island Green 15th Hole|
|6th & 8th holes|
|"Short" 7th hole|
|11th (foreground), 13th (back right), & 14th (back left) holes|
|15th hole with 1st hole of Mammoth Dunes in background|
We had 30 minutes to our tee time when we walked into the bar/grill room. We sat at the bar and told the bartender we had a tee time in 30 minutes and what could we get that was quick. He gave us a bar menu. My buddy ordered tacos and I ordered a plain salad. My buddy got his tacos in about 10 minutes, but no salad in sight. With 5 minutes to go before our tee time, my salad arrived. My buddy went to go check in for our tee time and learned that we had to take a shuttle to the first tee at Sand Valley. I start trying to eat my salad very quickly and almost choked to death on a piece of lettuce. My ever sympathetic buddy said "If you died I had the perfect obituary for you; He died doing what he loved, rushing to a tee time" I said "Damn, that's a great obituary, I'm sorry I didn't die!"
Sand Valley is another in a great line of Coore & Crenshaw designs. The best compliment I can give them is that it didn't look like any of their previous designs I had played, which genuinely surprised me as I thought on a sandy site like this it would look like some of their other projects on sandy soil. It also had the best set of par 5's I have played on a C&C design.
|The soon to be world famous ice cream sandwiches at SV. They come in 9 different flavors|
|"Punchbowl" Par 3 17th hole.|
Another wonderful golf trip in the books! Many thanks to my buddy for setting up some of the golf, to TD for hosting us at Crystal Downs, to Shivas for hosting us at Exmoor, and to my amazing wife for allowing me to continue to have these adventures!
Scorecards from the trip:
Pencils from the trip: