Seven great courses in Illinois for golfers on a budget


Illinois has a stunning selection of elite and exclusive golf clubs, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to get a round in the state.

Here we look at seven courses that come in well under $100 per round at their peak walking rates.

Crucially these courses also have a good selection of tee times available in any given week in season.

Kankakee Elks CC – Kankakee, IL

The Kankakee Elks Country Club is a semi-private facility that offers great visitor rates with 18 holes on a Monday costing as little as $22.

When it comes to the course itself, the challenge of getting to the green should be minimal for a decent player but once there the challenging element kicks in.

Kankakee is known for its greens which they describe as ‘satin-smooth’ and ‘vexingly swift’. Only a handful of bunkers and a solitary water hazard come into play in a round, but you will need to be dialled in with your putter in hand.

Mt. Prospect Golf Club – Mt. Prospect, IL

The current layout at Mt Prospect owes itself to the Esler Golf Design renovation which sought to restore the club to its golden age origins.

It has been inspired by designers like Donald Ross and Seth Raynor.

The green complexes have been named for the layouts that inspired them and Redan, Eden, Cape, Punchbowl, and Biarritz speak for themselves. You are unlikely to find a better municipal course in the Midwest.

Cog Hill #2 “Ravines Course” – Lemont, IL

Cog Hill’s Ravines Course is a popular choice for the golfer on a budget and regularly ranks among the best value-for-money courses in the state.

The championship layout winds through forested, hilly terrain, presenting golfers with ravines on about half of the holes and a significant challenge on all of them.

Perhaps the best part of this championship golf experience is that you will not pay more than $58 to walk the course.

Ravisloe Country Club – Homewood, IL

Donald Ross, Langford & Moreau and William Watson have all worked on the Ravisloe Country Club and it shows.

The course plays swiftly with its prime challenge presented by the often sharply sloped green complexes.

One of the best public access options available to golfers in the greater Chicago area this course is also worth a visit from further afield.

Shepherd’s Crook Golf Club – Zion, IL

The Crook as it is known is an often overlooked golfing venue perhaps due to the stripped-down nature of the facility.

It probably doesn’t help the course’s reputation that it is built right next to a landfill which can bring an odour into play.

Still, this layout is far better than it has any right to be given its humble setting and it offers a link-style experience with engaging holes that play well despite great variations in condition.

Bonnie Brook Golf Course – Waukegan, IL

Bonnie Brook Golf Course in Waukegan, IL, is one of the top options for public golf on the North Shore and in the broader Chicagoland region holding a special place among golfers in the region.

Bonnie Brook does a great job of both challenging serious players while helping newcomers ease into their game. This makes it a great choice for a home course.

It is also a must-visit for the itinerant golfer and offers a few more bells and whistles than many of the courses featured here.

Canal Shores Golf Course – Evanston, IL

The course will be closed in June of this year for a major overhaul designed to keep the beloved layout functioning at an optimum level with current turf and infrastructure reaching end-of-life stages.

It is a great layout that has benefitted from some intensive TLC in recent years and will likely be even better when it reopens this July.

The aim of these renovations will take this course from being a great layout to being a hub to grow the game in every sense. This course shows that affordable golf doesn’t mean you have to put up with negligence and decay.