Olympia Fields Country Club (North Course) – Played 2014
- Rankings: Golf Digest #62, Golf Magazine #80
- Location: 2800 Country Club Drive, Olympia Fields, Illinois
- Year: 1922
- Architect: Willie Park, Jr.
- Course Access: Private
- Walking Rules: Walking Only, Caddies Available (Carts for Tournament)
Score Card Information:
- Tournament: 7,273 yards, Par 71, 76.2 Rating/148 Slope
- Championship: 6,968 yards, Par 71, 74.8 Rating/144 Slope
- Member Regular: 6,605 yards, Par 71, 73.2 Rating/140 Slope
- Member Forward: 6,188 yards, Par 71, 71.3 Rating/135 Slope
- Regular: 5,408 yards, Par 71, 72.4 Rating/132 Slope
Olympia Fields was the second course on my Chicago trip after Cog Hill. This was definitely an awesome twofer. Through some credit card rewards my wife was able to get me into a captain’s choice event here at this prestigious course.
It has a rich history and holds a storied place in Chicago’s vast golf history. Let’s explore some of that history I gleaned from the course’s website. The club was founded in 1915 and had four courses by 1925. It had the largest private clubhouse in the world and was the first club to offer its members 72 holes of golf. In addition, the club had its own ice-making and hospital operations. Down to two courses currently, the North Course has hosted many prestigious tournaments. These include the Western Open in 1920, 1927, 1933, 1968, 1971, the PGA Championship in 1925 and 1961, the US Open in 1928 and 2003, the US Senior Open in 1997, and the US Girls’ Junior in 2011. In 2015, it will host the crown jewel of men’s amateur golf, the US Amateur. The architect, Willie Park, Jr., had a prolific portfolio of courses including Sunningdale and Maidstone. The course has apparently stayed true to the original design with the exceptions being some deeper bunkers and additional length. In spite of these changes the course record is 63 shared by Rickie Fowler and Vijay Singh.
The club is very large and the membership is active. They have varying facilities including tennis, swimming, and fitness in addition to the golf.
Driving up to the course I had a tremendous amount of excitement. The signs leading up to the clubhouse increased that. The one seen below was about a half mile out.
The event treated us very well. I had a locker set aside for me with my own nametag. In addition we had personalized bag tags. The locker room is quite large to accommodate the membership. I snapped a few photos, seen below, before we played.
Below you can see the part of the event I wanted to keep a surprise. Included in our round, we got a clinic from Dave Stockton and Dave Stockton, Jr. This was an awesome experience and they could not have been more personable.
Hole 1 – 542 yards – Par 5
We didn’t start on this hole as it was a captain’s choice event, so I was glad that we were a little warmed up. We had a long drive contest with Dave Stockton, Jr. and he clipped me by ten yards. It was by far my best drive of the day. The cool part about it was since I was the longest in my group he let me keep the autographed ball he hit. He and his dad were awesome throughout the day.
The shot itself is pretty straightforward. A big drive between the bunkers is the preferred line. The one on the left is in play. I landed about 10 yards past it.
This was the longest course I had played a captain’s choice event on and it made for a new challenge. The bunkers are definitely reachable so a fade off the tee plays best here.
The third features a blind tee shot. I forget the exact line the forecaddie mentioned for us, but I hit a nice draw down the middle here and was in great shape in the fairway. The landing area is downhill making this hole play shorter than the yardage.
This hole is shorter, but not necessarily easier. This is a pretty tight landing area and calls for a fade (not exactly my go-to shot). The trees creeping in on the right slim the area down as well.
This fairway is narrow! I wouldn’t usually hit driver from this length, but hey captain’s choice! A slight fade off the first bunker on the left should leave you with a nice second shot.
I really liked the look of this hole. Slightly downhill with a large green. This was a nice pin too tucked behind a bunker, but with plenty of open green if you hit a draw.
I learned here, that members will tee off on six and seven simultaneously. The tee boxes are basically next to one another. To avoid trudging back up the hill they have decided to play both tee shots while they are in the area. I thought that was a neat little oddity of the course.
The tee shot here plays downhill, but the fairway is pinched by the bunkers. A nice draw off the second bunker on the left will play well.
The eighth is a long one-shotter. The fat part of the green is a great play here with a longer iron.
This is a pretty hole. With the length here a good drive is necessary, but there isn’t too much strategy. Just hit something you can get in the fairway.
The fairway was relatively wide here. Bang away on the driver all day.
A dogleg left here calls for a pretty straight drive. Not too intimidating visually with the openness.
After the last hole, this feels claustrophobic, but it’s really not too bad. A little cut works great on this hole.
This hole is a break from all the long shots, but don’t lose focus. Just left of the green is a hazard and a steep hill. Also, that bunker in front of the flag is not to be trifled with.
This is a phenomenal golf hole. It is difficult and fun all at the same time. It plays from an elevated tee box seen here.
The second shot plays over a hazard to an uphill green. Note the bridge to the right, you have probably seen some of these in the other photos. They are all over the place here and they are really cool.
This was our actual first hole of the day. A three-shot hole for most players with the tee shot pretty narrow with trees encroaching on the fairway.
This is a really nice downhill par three. I really enjoyed the collection of short holes at Olympia Fields. It doesn’t play much shorter than the stated distance.
There isn’t much to this tee shot, but to get it in the short grass. A little fade away from the bunker will put you in prime position.
Be careful though, anything that carries too far will not hold the green as I learned firsthand. A good play here is to hit a shot that carries to the front of the green and it should roll out. Here is a shot of the green from just off the back.
The finisher is potentially reachable with a good drive. A slinging draw past the bunker will get some roll and provide a good angle into the green.
Here is the green. It may not look it, but there is a lot of slope here. Anywhere not in the immediate vicinity of this flag had a lot of break or was pretty speedy. It was a challenging putting surface.
I had a wonderful time playing Olympia Fields. I definitely see why it hosted a US Open and many other prestigious events. It will punish you if you don’t hit quality shots. I definitely enjoyed playing it in the captain’s choice format. The rolling hills and picturesque look just scream classic golf course. This was my first Willie Park, Jr. course and I can’t wait to see more of his courses. I look forward to my next trip to Chicago to tackle the other Top 100’s in the area. I will leave you with another photo of their magnificent clubhouse.