The 13 Best Golf Courses In Illinois

The 13 Best Golf Courses In Illinois

Patrick Koenig

Discover Illinois’ golfing paradise, where lush fairways and challenging layouts await amidst stunning landscapes. The majority of the state’s top 40 courses, designed by renowned architects, are nestled around Chicago’s vibrant metro area. From championship-level challenges crafted by legends like Tom Fazio and Pete Dye, to scenic courses catering to beginners, Illinois offers something for every golfer. Whether you seek a pro-level test or a leisurely round, Illinois’ diverse courses, spread across its picturesque terrain, promise an unforgettable golfing experience. Explore our curated list of top courses and tee off in the heart of the Midwest’s golfing excellence.

Chicago Golf Club

Founded in 1893, Chicago Golf Club pioneered America’s first 18-hole course under the guidance of C.B. Macdonald, a leading figure in U.S. golf. Relocated to Wheaton, Illinois, in 1895, Macdonald crafted a new 6,200-yard layout, which members enjoyed until Seth Raynor, Macdonald’s protégé, refined it in 1923. Preserving its historic integrity, the club has subtly enhanced the course over the years, restoring lost bunkers and maintaining its original architectural brilliance.

Butler National Golf Club

Butler National, envisioned by George Fazio as a premier championship course, initially faced challenges with its bluegrass fairways, deterring some PGA Tour players due to flyer-lie risks. Despite a later conversion to bentgrass, controversy surrounding Shoal Creek and its men-only policy led the club to step down as host of the Western Open after 1990.

Shoreacres Golf Club

Shoreacres Golf Club showcases Seth Raynor’s masterful design amid captivating terrain, highlighted by iconic holes like the Leven, Biarritz, and Redan. Nestled along Lake Michigan, the course features a stunning sequence from holes 11 to 13, traversing ravines with unparalleled beauty and challenge, making it a standout among the world’s top courses.

Canyata Golf Club

Energy-industry CEO Jerry Forsythe’s vision for his childhood retreat in east central Illinois blossomed into Canyata Golf Club. Initially a modest three-hole course by architect Bob Lohmann, expanded to nine by Lohmann’s associate Mike Benkusky, and eventually into a sprawling 18-hole layout. Carved from two million cubic yards of cornfield, Canyata boasts expansive fairways, greens bordered by serene waterscapes, artificial creeks, and meticulously crafted bunkers. With minimal play, the club maintains impeccable course conditions, ensuring a pristine golfing experience for its exclusive guest roster.

Medinah Country Club (No. 3)

Medinah No. 3 epitomizes the evolution of great golf courses through its storied history and continuous improvements. Host to major tournaments since 1949, it has seen strategic redesigns, notably relocating its iconic par-3 17th hole multiple times, including a recent move back to its original waterside setting after Tiger Woods’ notable victories. Scheduled for another transformation ahead of the 2026 Presidents Cup, Medinah No. 3 aims to reclaim its top-tier status in golf rankings.

Olympia Fields Country Club (North)

In preparation for the 1961 PGA Championship, Olympia Fields North underwent significant enhancements overseen by superintendent Warren Bidwell, who relocated numerous bunkers and extended the course by 320 yards without a golf architect. Later transformations by architect Mark Mungeam preceded its hosting of major events like the 2003 U.S. Open and subsequent U.S. Amateur tournaments alongside the newly remodeled South course by Steve Smyers. Olympia Fields North continued its legacy with prestigious events such as the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2017 and hosting the BMW Championship in 2020 and 2023.

Old Elm Club

Old Elm, an exclusive men’s club in Chicago’s north side, boasts a unique design lineage crafted by British architect Harry S. Colt in 1913, who collaborated on-site with Donald Ross. Architect Drew Rogers has recently restored the course’s original spaciousness by removing trees, expanding fairways and greens, and recreating Colt’s signature rugged bunker edges, affirming Old Elm’s stature among Chicago’s premier golf destinations.

Rich Harvest Farms

Rich Harvest Farms, born from a six-hole backyard project by computer billionaire Jerry Rich, evolved into a flexible 18-hole course renowned for hosting prestigious events like the 2009 Solheim Cup and 2017 NCAA Championship. Known as the “Augusta of the Midwest,” its unique design allows each hole to offer varied challenges and perspectives, setting it apart from traditional layouts like Augusta National.

Skokie Country Club

Skokie Country Club, a storied championship venue, melds design legacies from Bendelow, Langford, Moreau, and Ross. Its enduring appeal lies in a balanced layout with diverse risk-and-reward par 4s, challenging bunkers, and tree-lined fairways that reward accuracy and precision. The course’s wide fairways and accessible greens ensure a playable and enjoyable experience for golfers of all skill levels.

Conway Farms Golf Club

Conway Farms, a premier Chicago-area championship venue, underwent a comprehensive 2021-2022 renovation by Tim Jackson and David Kahn, formerly of Tom Fazio’s team. The remodel focused on upgrading irrigation, removing trees, and redesigning greens and bunkers. While maintaining signature challenges like the cross-hazard drive on the fourth and the creek-guarded 18th green, enhancements to shorter holes like the first and drivable seventh have added strategic depth and visual appeal.

Cog Hill Golf & Country Club: # 4 – Dubsdread

Rees Jones faced scrutiny from some PGA Tour pros over his overhaul of Cog Hill No. 4, known as Dubsdread, criticized for its difficulty. Originally envisioned by Joe Jemsek in the 1960s as a tough championship course, Jones’s renovation honored the strategic philosophy of Dick Wilson, emphasizing narrow fairways and heavily bunkered greens.

Black Sheep Golf Club

Black Sheep Golf Club in Illinois stands out as a premier inland links-style course, designed to rival the nation’s finest. With expansive fairways offering strategic risk/reward opportunities, golfers navigate bunkers, water hazards, and prairie terrain for advantageous positions. The challenging greens vary in size, undulation, and exposure to unpredictable winds, making each round a unique test of skill and strategy, consistently placing Black Sheep among Illinois’ top-ranked courses for its blend of difficulty and enjoyment.

TPC Deere Run

Illinois native D.A. Weibring, a three-time Quad Cities Classic champion, masterfully designed TPC Deere Run. He blended challenge and playability while preserving the natural beauty of the Mid-Mississippi River Valley, creating a course with elevation changes, scenic views, and hardwood trees.