Hickory Hills

Hickory Hills #1 Tee Box

I played Hickory Hills Golf Club last Sunday and found it somewhat odd, but priced in the ballpark and with some unique features. It was the first time I’ve played here and the first round this year, so it’s appropriate that it will be my first review in the re-purposed Chicago Public Golf/@golfjstef quest for interweb golf glory.

I knew all last week that Sunday had the potential for being a good day to hit it, but my foursome didn’t get around to deciding to play for sure until Saturday. It’s always risky trying to get a weekend prime tee time the day before, but pretty doable in this day and age. Here’s roughly how my call to Hickory Hills went:

Me: Hi, do you have space for four tomorrow, say around 8am?

HH staff: Yes we do, how about 8:00am?

Me: Wow, cool, actually, what about a little later, say 8:30 or 9:00?

HH staff: Yes, we can do 8:32 or 9:00.

Me: Great, I’ll take the 8:32. Now it may be only three because we have one guy on the fence. Are you going to hit my credit card if I don’t show up with all four?

HH staff: We don’t need a credit card. I’ll put you down for four and if you show up with less that’s fine.

I couldn’t envision a tee-time conversation going any better than that. It’s actually one of the greatest tee-time discussions I’ve ever had. I’m going to pause a moment and savor it, then let’s get to some details.

The price was $42 with cart on April 15th on Sunday morning. It took us about 30 minutes to get there from downtown by taking I55 to Harlem south to 95th west. It’s barely over 6,000 yards from the back tees (the only measured tee box) and comprised of bluegrass mown to about two different levels. The putting surfaces may have been a finer type of grass but it wasn’t cut very short so they were pretty slow. It’s a par 71 but the rating runs 67.9. There isn’t much trouble and there isn’t much of a crowd. These could be related. I shot an 80 so I was pretty happy.

It sounds a little bland thus far but it’s really not. It’s actually a pretty decent value. Things are kept interesting with a serious of ridges and embankments often used to elevate greens and tee boxes. The picture at the top of this post is taken from the first tee, a straight, trouble-free par 5 which sits atop a ridge and greets players when they exit the clubhouse. You pay a reasonable price and walk out and see this, which portends that you may have gotten a pretty darn good deal.

This feeling ebbs and flows throughout the round though and by the time the disappointing 18th hole rolls around (277 yard par four) you aren’t quite sure how good the deal was. The low price and lack of crowds are great, but boredom sets in by the turn and some aesthetic fumbles begin to set you off, like cart paths down the center of fairways and large, unsightly signs behind each green with the hole number.

I’ll tell you what though, I feel like I’ve found a workout course – a hassle-free place to go and carry your clubs for a great workout. Here are the features of a great workout course for me:

  • Proximate (relatively, by Chicago standards that means < 30 min)
  • Cheap
  • Hilly
  • Uncrowded

This place does fit the bill in that respect and if I play it again it will be for the workout value. Check out my photo set on Flickr. It was a cloudy so there aren’t many good pics, but they give you a feel for the place.

Hickory Hills 120415