I’m telling you man, that weekend about a month ago was a great weekend of golf. I played Village Links on Friday and this course, Countryside Prairie, on Memorial Day. Pinch me. I was lucky enough to hit two great, municipally owned suburban Chicago golf courses on beautiful, sunny mornings in May.
These are two different experiences. Countryside is much humbler than Village Links, but arguably a better value at $52 with cart for an early Monday , prime time, holiday tee time. That’s the only comparison I’ll make because it’s not fair to either.
Countryside Prairie is part of a 36 hole complex in Mundelein, IL owned by the Lake County Forest Preserve. The Prairie course is newer and, in my opinion, slightly better than the Traditional course. Wow, you have a crapload of options in Mundelein. Besides the Countryside duo, you have Pine Meadow and Steeple Chase, a couple of other great golf courses.
Countryside Prairie puts a solid layout at your feet with decent conditions at a reasonable price. It has smooth, bent grass greens and nicely mown bluegrass fairways. I gotta tell you, bent grass fairways are no longer a high priority for me. I used to be a fairway snob. No more.
Something just feels right playing courses like this. I’ll term them high value muni courses. Right now that means a good course worth driving to the suburbs for at around $50 primetime with cart. This usually means you can get around for sub-$40 if you walk or if you’re a local who likes to ride. That’s a pretty approachable leisure activity. Not cheap, but approachable. And made even more approachable by wide fairways, many beautiful, aesthetically pleasing views, mostly uncomplicated green complexes, and no houses or cars.
That’s what you get at Countryside. I think it’s the future of golf. Welcome to the future!
Pictured at the top of this post is a perfect example of why I like this place, the par three ninth hole. It’s a nice looking hole with trouble and a multi-tiered green that could have some tricky placements. But it’s a huge green, pretty short, with plenty of bailout space so it shouldn’t intimidate anybody. It’s peaceful and joyful to look at.
There are plenty of other examples, check out my Countryside set on Flickr. This course may not be appropriate for out-of-town golf snobs on a golf trip, but that’s the only drawback. Get here fast. And I’m not just saying that because I played well.