The Takeaway: Chicago Highland is an attempt at being a links course that comes up wanting due to the soft conditions and unnaturally forced design features. While still a good track that is uniquely themed for Chicago, Highlands isn’t compelling enough to be considered among the elite courses of America’s third largest city. Grade B-
Designer: Arthur Hills in 2010
Phone Number: (708) 947-2190
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Chicago Highlands Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 2 Bluebird Trail, Westchester, Illinois 60154 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Chicago Highlands was built on a former landfill and converted into an inland links themed course. The Arthur Hills course requires caddies to accompany its visitors and help them navigate the layout that is unique to the Windy City area. Speaking of wind, the relative lack of trees on the property allows for the breeze to cut through the course freely and contend with shots of all types. While the course is unique, the execution of it isn’t as good as one would hope. The conditions are soft rather than the traditional firm turf a links course would offer and the mounding and design features feel unnaturally forced. The 9th hole is the best offering on the course by far with an ant hill design that culminates with a view of downtown from the raised green. That being said, the back nine is significantly better and more compelling than the front which helps keep players interested through the end of the round. Ultimately, Chicago Highlands is a nice change of pace but I couldn’t help but think how much better it could be with the blank slate Hills had to work with.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 9th Hole – 344 Yard Par 4 – Easily the most intriguing hole on the property, the short front nine finisher can be driveable for longer players and exciting for all players. The lone pot bunker short of the green is the last place you want to find yourself on the property, so avoid it at all costs. Beyond that, it is a matter of deciding how to attack this anthill style green at the highest point on the property and slopes away on all sides while offering a stellar view of the Chicago skyline.
Best Par 3: 4th Hole – 243 Yards – The path to the 4th seems to mimic the choppy waves of nearby Lake Michigan with the undulations continuing through the green. You'll need pinpoint accuracy entering this green considering the front third is just 13 yards wide while the putting surface stretches back five times that long and yields pin placements that may require a driver to reach. While you may not mistake Chicago Highlands as a true links course many places, this unique hole would fit in on the other side of the pond.
Best Par 4: 11th Hole – 479 Yards – The southwest corner of the property houses this long par four that doglegs left around a large pond. With the left side sufficiently protected, the right side counters with two fairway bunkers and two additional bunkers greenside. The big question is how much of the pond do you cut off with your tee shot while not giving your Pro V1 a watery grave to enter. The approach shot sees water continuing up the left side in the form of a meandering creek while the back features a narrow crescent bunker. There is little room for error anywhere along the journey of this hole, so hopefully you have your best game handy.
Best Par 5: 12th Hole – 576 Yards – Along the west side of the property at Chicago Highlands are four ponds connected with creeks that flow to the south. The middle two ponds of the group flank the left side of the 12th hole before a creek cuts across the hole and separates the fairway from the right side of the green. The journey to the green is all uphill, but not at a slog pace, so you'll need to account for some extra yardage on each shot. Players trying to go for the green in two have a small piece of fairway directly in line with the green on the left side of the creek to work with, but missing your target almost assuredly leaves you in the water.
Birdie Time: 16th Hole – 363 Yard Par 4 – After coming off the brutal 15th, Arthur Hills gives players a chance to take a stroke back with the short 16th. A handful of bunkers come into play off the tee but the green is completely free of any sand which should give players confidence when attacking it. A tee shot that carries 240 yards will clear the bunker in the center of the fairway and put a scoring club in your hands on the approach.
Bogey Beware: 15th Hole – 519 Yard Par 4 – Longer than a lot of par fives across the country, the brutally long 15th sees very few greens in regulation. The hole begins to bend left once it reaches the fairway bunker that sits at the elbow before continuing to the green that offers a small bailout area to the right. While the main accuracy concern is staying out of the fescue on each side of the fairway, a severe miss left can bring o.b. into play.