Sure, it's great to play at Kapalua in Hawaii. And a chance to tee it up at Pebble Beach is a memory for a lifetime.
There are other must-play destinations for the serious golfer: Old and established resorts like Pinehurst in North Carolina and new and up-and-coming stops like Bandon Dunes in Oregon. There also are courses that lack the familiar name, but serve the purpose if the weather is good there and cold here.
You know what? Count yourself lucky.
Pound for pound, or blade of grass for blade of grass, Chicago might be the best golf area in the country. Especially public golf. Few locales match the quantity and quality for golf.
With that in mind, here are our 18 reasons why Chicago is a golf Mecca.
1. Winter rules in the spring: OK, so spring might be a rumor. At least you're out there playing.
2. Variety: If you wanted to, you could play 30 different public courses in 30 days, and have a great golf experience.
3. Up the road: You don't need to get on a plane to experience a course like Pebble Beach. All you need to do is drive to Whistling Straits, located an hour north of Milwaukee. It's hard to believe one of the most stunning courses in the world (and the site of this year's PGA Championship) is less than a two-hour drive from the North suburbs.
4. At home: If you want a hole with a lake view, try No. 5 at Sydney Marovitz. You could hit a slice into a boat.
5. Pro players: PGA Tour pros Jeff Sluman and Luke Donald live here when they are not playing in tournaments. If it's good enough for them, it should be good enough for you.
6. Not a pro: Avid golfer Michael Jordan also has been known to hit a few balls and win or lose a few dollars on area courses.
7: Top amateurs: Bill Shean and Joel Hirsch have done their part to boost Chicago golf by winning top amateur events throughout the world.
8. First Tee and Hook-A-Kid-On-Golf: The Chicago area has been a frontrunner in developing facilities and programs that enable kids to take their first swings at the game.
9. Jackson Park: The famous South Side course provides golf with a true urban flavor.
10. Clubmaker: Chicago is the home to Wilson Sports, whose golf division has been at the forefront in the equipment industry for generations. Chances are you once played with Wilson's Sam Snead irons.
11. Something different: If you want to go the unconventional route, keep in mind that Natural Golf also makes its home in the Chicago area. The method has the endorsement from former Bears coach Mike Ditka, if that means anything.
12: A beautiful dump: Has there been better use of a landfill than what was created by Harborside International? Two wonderful courses and a view of the skyline.
13. Cartoonish: Name another city that has a Dick Tracy bunker. Chicago has one at Cantigny.
14. History: Here's a good trivia question: Name the second oldest tournament in the U.S. after the U.S. Open? If you guessed the Western Open, go straight to the first tee. The tournament has been around since 1899.
15. Park District and Forest Preserve courses: If you want to play the game, but don't want to take out a second mortgage for greens fees, there are plenty of facilities that offer inexpensive golf. At the end of the day, it still is about putting the ball in the hole, right?
16. Upscale: If you can pay the freight, there is no shortage of courses that provide some of the best public golf in the country.
17. The winter: It offers golf-weary players a chance to regroup and recharge their batteries. A little break isn't all bad. And for those who can't tear themselves away, there are several golf domes that allow for work on those winter swing changes.
18. The summer: It doesn't get much better if you're spending it on a golf course in Chicago.
This is the place to tee it up
Some reasons why Chicago is one of the bast locales for golf
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