Typically, the nicer and more picturesque a golf hole is, the longer and more difficult it is. A 500-yard hole that’s punctuated with blossoming trees, calm water and neatly raked bunkers may look great in a photo, but aesthetic touches also create trouble for golfers. Distance and beauty go hand-in-hand on these seven holes, as they challenge a golfer to make the most of accuracy, skill and patience.
Pottawatomie Golf Course
845 N. Second Ave., St. Charles
Hole No. 1
Stretching 489 yards, this hole involves some slick strategy right out the gate. It’s tempting to drive the green in two shots, but many a golfer instead winds up in the trees, lining the fairway.
Ron Skubisz, head PGA professional, suggests thinking through each move carefully, moving backwards in your mind.
“Decide which shot to hit into the green, and play the hole that way,” he says.
Skubisz suggests aiming your first shot about 180 yards off the tee. Then, use your second shot to position yourself on the fairway, aiming for someplace that makes an easy third shot onto the green.
Orchard Valley Golf Course
2411 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora
Hole No. 16
This long, 551-yard hole has a dogleg right with relaxed waters and quiet bunkers along the way. Down the manicured fairway and off to the left sits a backdrop of houses. Several trees overlook the green, making for a shady putt.
“The view from the tee box offers a stunning open view with water and bunkers along the right side,” says Kyle Halverson, director of marketing and communications for the Fox Valley Park District.
Boone Creek Golf Club
6912 Mason Hill Road, Bull Valley
Hole No. 1, Valley Course
Out of the three nine-hole courses on this sprawling layout, the Valley Course’s first hole is the most nerve-wracking, especially since it runs 521 yards.
Plenty of golf courses have a dogleg or two, but this unique hole has two of them.
“This hole curves to the left, then to the right, with the idea to give the hole some shape and challenge,” says Robert Sweno, head golf professional. “The tee shot has trees on the left and a bunker, and the second shot also has trees to maneuver around. Everything opens up on the third shot. It’s a tricky hole to start on, so it can throw you off a little bit, especially if you’re not warmed up.”
Prairie Landing Golf Club
2325 Longest Drive, West Chicago
Hole No. 10
The fairway on this 550-yard hole is pretty wide, but the slopes and bowl-like features make fairway positioning critical. Trees, bunkers and fescue-covered mounds frame the tee shot, while a meandering stream softly flows to the left.
“The multi-level putting surface can create havoc with most putts,” says Garrett Dee, pro shop assistant. “Look backwards on this hole from the green, and you’ll wonder why any trouble can be found.”
Aldeen Golf Club
1902 Reid Farm Road, Rockford
Hole No. 6
This 558-yard hole has a creek flowing through the middle of the fairway, so it’s essential to strategize your options.
“This hole is all about placement,” says Jordan Zellman, manager of golf instruction and programs. “You can either play it safe with a layup shot before the creek or take a risk and go over the creek, leaving yourself an easy wedge shot.”
If you overshoot the green, beware. There’s a beautiful flower bed and a cropping of ornamental trees that could cause a few problems.
Crystal Woods Golf Course
5915 S. Illinois Route 47, Woodstock
Hole No. 5
This 565-yard hole plays downhill, so hit that driver long and straight for a big advantage. It’s yours if you land on the fairway.
Position your second shot to the right side of the fairway for the best approach to the green. Be careful, because there’s water directly behind the hole. An overswing could cause some headaches.
“The left rough is tree-lined, so players must avoid playing too far to the left to avoid hitting out of bounds,” says John Craig, golf director. “A good drive and fairway metal can usually leave a short approach to an undulating green.”
Woodbine Bend Golf Course
3500 E. Center Road, Stockton, Ill.
Hole No. 16
This 535-yard, links-style hole slopes to the right, with a pond lurking to the right of the green. To the left, a bank of evergreens stands guard.
It might be best to have some extra balls prepared when you tee off, because the approach on this hole is narrow and the hazards are many.
“Hit the tee shot on the front right of the fairway and aim just past the 150-yard marker for the second shot. Aim to the left side, so you’re looking down on the green,” says Sam Stoddard, general manager. “It’s a smaller green, so the third shot will have to be accurate. This hole will test your precision and accuracy.”