Written By: Kris McEwen (User Submitted Review)
Follow him on Twitter: @KrisMcEwen
As I sit here at my desk, watching from above as Chicago fights a losing battle against the Polar Vortex, I find my mind wandering to a better time, a warmer time. A time when I’m standing behind a teed-up white ball, driver in-hand, gazing down a lush, green fairway. I close my eyes and can see it perfectly. But what golf course am I on? I close my eyes a little harder and really concentrate. Of course…it’s Bonnie.
That’s how the locals refer to her. We’re all on a first name basis with her.
Local A: “Where’d ya shoot?”
Local B: “Bonnie.”
For me, Bonnie holds a special place in my heart. It’s where I learned I could be intimidated by water. It’s where my brother and I learned how to bypass the governor of a golf cart. It’s where I carded my first birdie. It’s where I snapped my first pitching wedge across my knee. It’s the golf course I grew up on.
I tell you this so you know ahead of time that I am unabashedly biased towards this golf course. This wide-open, forgivable, reasonably priced, otherwise ho-hum, golf course.
Originally built in 1924, those that have been playing it have seen it go through some changes over the years. Where you once began your round, you now finish. Where once there were trees protecting Dundee Road from a miss-hit tee-shot, it is now exposed.
But those responsible for the changes kept in place the characteristics of this golf course that have challenged golfers for ninety years. For generations, Dundee and Carpentersville residents have played the same dog-leg left, uphill hole on the front nine, on occasion using the warehouse as a backstop. And for generations on that same hole, we’ve used the birdhouse as a guide as we hit an up-hill, blind second shot, hoping our ball would avoid the sand traps that hugged both sides of the green.
Our ancestors have shared our misery on the elevated, par-three sixth hole, as our ball somehow fails to reach the green and instead plunk’s helplessly into the pond that separates tee box from short grass. Oh that pond. That stupid, beautiful, deceiving pond. A body of water such a size that you could throw a baseball with your non-throwing arm across it with yardage to spare. A body of water so non-descript, if placed in a park birds would pass it thinking it was merely a puddle. I’ve seen standing water on the sides of roads larger than that pond. And yet, its intimidation is that of a school-yard bully. When even years later, when you return to the school-yard as a successful, confident man, you can’t escape the feeling that somehow it will get the better of you.
I adore this golf course. It’s the first one I play at the beginning of every season. First, because it’s Bonnie, and second, because it allows you to shake off the rust without too much abuse.
It doesn’t have anything flashy or fancy, it doesn’t’ have a driving range, and it certainly doesn’t have GPS in the carts. But what it lacks in luster, it makes up for in tradition and character.