Getting Caught Up, Part 2: The Cogs that Keep Chicago Golf Running Strong

Tuesday morning, I got up super early after just a few hours of sleep. I headed up to Cog Hill Country Club with a plan of playing 36 holes at this famed golf establishment. The main reason anyone from out of town comes here is to play the #4 (Dubsdread) course, which is almost always ranked in the top 20 of any “best of” list for public play courses. However, they have three other courses here that all looked to be nice complements to the marquee course.

Cog Hill #4 (Dubsdread)

I got there super early and it was really foggy out. I was the only one out there so early, so I went off by myself on Dubsdread as the first person out on the course. The fog slowly lifted and was all but gone after a few holes of play, revealing a beautiful sunny sky and very moderate temperatures (not nearly the heat or humidity I feared before coming here).

After playing the ultra-dramatic Arcadia Bluffs the day before, Cog Hill was a great reminder of why I love golf so much. These two courses couldn’t be any more different, but they are both spectacular in their own ways. Dubsdread blew me away on every level. It is hands-down the best conditioned course I’ve ever played, and that’s saying a lot. It was truly immaculate with every inch of the course being green and super lush. With the rain the night before and the high amount of watering they do here in the summer to keep the course in peak shape, it was a bit soggy for my round. But that’s a very minor complaint.

The layout is a classic beauty, even though it has gone through some modern renovations led by Rees Jones. The front nine is kind of a parkland layout with a ton of trees and tight doglegs. The back nine is more hilly and dramatic, but the fairways are wider. Most of the greens are slightly elevated and all are protected by big, well-placed bunkers. There is plenty of undulation on the greens, so on and around the greens are where the biggest challenges are found on this course. Unlike Arcadia, where the course is very “in your face” (in a good way), Dubsdread’s appeal is more subtle but clearly there as you stand on every tee box.

Cog Hill #4 (Dubsdread) is a stunning course and it’s very easy to understand why it’s so highly regarded. One thing I did like here is that the people working there are not pretentious. It feels more like your local muni when you are in there with a friendly relaxed atmosphere. With such great courses, they don’t need to overdo the service. No bag boys waiting to move your clubs five feet or wiping your clubs down with a wet rag in the hopes of getting a tip!

Though the primary round on the main course was expensive ($155), they do have great replay rates there. So I played the #2 course (Ravines) and was able to get in another quick round for $35 on the course that most consider to be Cog Hill’s second-best.

Cog Hill #2 (Ravines)

It starts off with a few of the dullest holes I’ve ever played, so I was wondering if it was worth the trouble. However, it gets much more interesting as the course goes along. The holes get tighter, more hazard areas come into play and some elevation changes and doglegs kick in. The greens are simpler on #2 than on #4 and they are not nearly as well-protected. The bunkers on the Ravines course are much less intimidating.

One interesting feature on the Ravines course is the 4th hole. It’s the first time, I’ve ever seen two full par-3 holes right next to each other and either one can be played as the fourth hole. Though not identical designs, they do play to the same yardages. I guessed they did this to encourage faster play, so if the normal tee is backed up, your group can play the alternate hole. It’s very unusual, to say the least. This course also features a 19th hole, which is a little par-3 over water. It was closed off today so I didn’t play it, but it’s a fun little “bonus” hole for after your main round. I guess there are also two additional holes that are no longer part of the routing, but are still playable. The guy I played with there says he played the full 22-hole version once with both 4th holes, the 19th hole and the two “dead” holes. Interesting stuff.

It was also in great shape. Not quite as immaculate as Dubsdread, but still extremely well-kept. The greens were softer an slower, which took some getting used to, but otherwise I was very impressed with the conditions on this course that plays second-fiddle to its big brother. In the end, it was well worth the discounted green fee.

Some pictures from Cog Hill Country Club #4 (Dubsdread) (8/14/12):

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Some pictures from Cog Hill Country Club #2 (Ravines) (8/14/12):

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From Chicago, I drove all the way across Indiana again and to Columbus, Ohio. I’ll be playing at Longaberger tomorrow morning.

For dinner, I decided to try an Ohio staple by stopping at a Skyline Chili restaurant. On the menu, all the chili-inspired meals looked good, but I had never had Skyline Chili before and was curious about what made it so distinctive. They brought me a small sample and I enjoyed the first couple of bites. It’s a very different taste with elements of nutmeg and/or cinnamon in there.

After a few more bites, though, I realized I didn’t like it at all and it was making me nauseous. Unfortunately, my order of two coney dogs was already in the works. By the time they brought them out, I had no desire to eat them. I did my best to force down a few bites and scrape off the chili, but it just made me feel worse and worse. The smell and taste was overwhelming. I was able to make it to my room here in Columbus, where I couldn’t keep the chili dogs down.

So counting the guy trying to eat the four-pound stromboli in Michigan to my taste buds not agreeing with Ohio’s favorite chili, that’s two nights in a row that ended unpleasantly. I’m sure none of you read this blog to hear about this, but I couldn’t resist sharing.

Previous Day: Tullymore (MI) and Arcadia Bluffs (MI)

Next Day: Longaberger (OH)

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