Location: Highland Park, IL
Architect: H.S. Colt & C.H. Alison
August 20, 2010
Back in 2010 when I set up a Chicago trip to play Shoreacres and Chicago Golf Club I had the opportunity to visit Bob Oâ€™Link Golf Club at the same time. I had the good fortune of becoming acquainted with a fellow golf nut named Dave who is a member there and he graciously invited me to come out for a visit with with my friends Blair and Steve. I had a game planned for the afternoon at Shoreacres, so Dave arranged for us to play first thing in the morning at Bob Oâ€™Link.
Bob Oâ€™Link is one of those under the radar clubs that isnâ€™t listed on any of the Top 100 lists, probably could be, and probably doesnâ€™t care. The club was founded in 1916 and the course design is attributed to the design team of Colt & Alison. Here in this 21st Century world of sometimes uptight and stuffy golf environments, Bob Oâ€™Link is a throw back to the good old golf clubs with no pretense. Like a number of the other all male golf clubs in this country Bob Oâ€™Link has a very short list of rules. No ladies, no cell phones, have fun . . . pretty simple. Much like its Long Island brethren, Garden City Golf Club, Bob Oâ€™Link is a place where golfers are known to sometimes play shirtless in order to get in touch with their inner John Daly. Thereâ€™s not a whole lot of places youâ€™ll see that.
So, upon arrival at the club we parked our car and met Dave in the locker room where we changed our shoes and then took a quick tour of the classic Tudor style clubhouse. One interesting and cool detail here is that the walls of the clubhouse are adorned with individual caricatures of each member. We had some fun finding Daveâ€™s and then scooted outside to meet our caddies and hit a few warm up balls.
If my memory serves there is only one set of tees at Bob Oâ€™Link so we didnâ€™t have any option other than to play from 6,734 yards . . . which was just fine with me. I didnâ€™t get the camera out too much so I donâ€™t have a whole lot of photos to share, but here are the ones that I do have.
Below is the 8th hole which is a 151 yard par 3. I remember this hole vividly. We had set up a match for this game with Dave and Steve pitted against Blair and me. I hit my tee shot very tight for a tap in birdie which would put my team 2 up on the other guys. Steve is my regular partner in the annual Fred Ridley Cup so I know exactly how gritty of a competitor he is. He was getting 16 strokes off of Daveâ€™s 1 handicap so he could still tie me with a par here. True to form he drained the 40 footer for a 2 net 1 which left my tap in birdie impotent. Itâ€™s hard to forget a dagger like that.
The photo below is the 9th hole which is a 410 yard par 4. The bunkering to the right of the green is very typical of the style at Bob Oâ€™Link.
The 16th hole pictured below is, according to the handicapping on the scorecard, the easiest hole on the course. At 182 yards and with the green situated at a tricky angle for a back pin location I would beg to differ. Dave and Steve both made pars here to Blairâ€™s and my bogies and we went 1 down with 2 to play. Ugh.
After Blair won the 17th hole for our team we came into the 18th hole all square. To illustrate what kind of competitor Steve is let me give a little background. He played competitive tennis from a young age all the way through college. He does not like to lose. My favorite story to illustrate this point is from a match he played as a 14 year old in junior tennis. After a couple of games in the first set he and his opponent took a quick water break. His opponent had forgotten to bring a jug of water with him and asked Steve if he could get a sip out of his jug. Steveâ€™s response . . . and I quote . . . â€śpart of being a winner is coming prepared . . . sorry, but I donâ€™t think soâ€ť. As a friend you couldnâ€™t ask for a better guy, but as a competitor he simply gives no quarter. I respect that about him.
So were standing on the 18th tee looking down a 413 yard par 4 and whoever wins this hole wins the match. Iâ€™m sweating the fact that the guy who has a knack for pulling miracles out of a hat when he needs them is my opponent and not my partner. On the other hand the miracle worker, like any great competitor, is oblivious to anything but hitting his drive in the fairway. Below is a photo of the 18th green taken from the fairway just before we hit our approach shots
To wrap up the story, Blair made a double and I three jacked for a bogey while Dave made a smooth par and Steve executed a fantastic up and down to make a par net birdie with his usual flair. It was an exciting match to the very end which is a wonderful testament to the great game of golf. I love that four guys with handicaps of 1, 9, 12 and 17 can go out and have an absolute war that comes down to the 18th green. There just arenâ€™t many sports where people with that wide a margin of skill level can compete evenly. What a great game.
I loved my day at Bob Oâ€™Link. The course was fun with lots of challenging holes and the club itself had a great feel to it. One interesting thing of note about the course is that on the front and back nines both of the par 5s are consecutive. On the front nine they are holes 5 and 6 and on the back nine they are holes 10 and 11. Thats not something that you see every day. Great club, great course and a great time.