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Golf Insider: Playing nine a fine option in Fox Valley

Golfers make their way around Wing Park. Established 1908 Elgcourse is oldest nine-hole municipial course Illinois. | File photo

Golfers make their way around Wing Park. Established in 1908, the Elgin course is the oldest nine-hole municipial course in Illinois. | File photo

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Public nine-hole golf courses in Fox Valley region:

Apple Orchard Golf Course, Bartlett

Cantigny Youth Links, Wheaton

Cedardell Golf Club, Plano

Deer Valley Golf Course, Big Rock

Indian Oaks Country Club, Shabbona

Pottawatomie Golf Course, St. Charles

River Bend Golf Club, Lisle

Streamwood Oaks Golf Club, Streamwood

Wing Park Golf Course, Elgin

Updated: August 6, 2013 6:34AM

In an age when times seems to fly faster and faster, carving out a few hours for nine holes of golf can be a rewarding experience.

Thankfully, for golfers in the Fox Valley, there are plenty of quality options to choose from as public nine-hole courses can be found from Bartlett to Plano and several points in between.

“I think nine-hole golf courses fit a lot of peoples’ lifestyle right now,” said Ron Skubisz, the head golf pro at Pottawatomie Golf Course in St. Charles. “With as busy as people are both in terms of their professional life and family life, they may have a couple hours to go play golf, but it seems like it is diminishing how many people can devote 5½ hours to golf. So I think nine holes can be the right time and place for golfers of any skill level.”

The nine-hole offerings in the Fox Valley span anywhere from par-3 courses well suited for beginners to historic and nationally ranked courses with deep roots in the fabric of golf in Illinois.

Pottawatomie fits into the latter group as it was recognized as the 15th-best nine-hole course in America in 2010 by Golf Digest. Nestled on the banks of the Fox River just north of downtown St. Charles, Pottawatomie also is part of a select group of courses in the country to be designated a fully certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.

Designed in 1939 by famed golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr., Pottawatomie provides a good test for golfers of all skill levels. The par-4 third hole also features the first island green designed by Jones.

“I think sometimes the term ‘municipal course’ or ‘park district course’ conotates it is going to be an easy golf course, but Pottawatomie is not an easy golf course,” Skubisz said. “I think it is a better golf course than people envision it is going to be.”

Wing Park Golf Course in Elgin is another nine-hole course with historical significance. Established in 1908 in the midst of a golf course boom in the Chicago area, it is the oldest nine-hole municipal course in Illinois.

Cedardell Golf Club in Plano is another nine-hole track that dates to the first half of the 20th century as it opened in 1926.

Streamwood Oaks Golf Club and River Bend Golf Club in Lisle aren’t nearly as old as both opened in the 1990s, but their par-36 layouts offer particularly good tests for golfers with low handicaps.

At the other end of the spectrum are nine-hole courses made up entirely of par-3s, such as Apple Orchard Golf Course in Bartlett and Deer Valley Golf Course in Big Rock. While these courses are well suited for beginners and kids, more serious players can get plenty out of the short layouts.

“Golfers here get to sharpen up on their iron play, and an hour and a half is attractive to a lot of people as far as the time frame to golf,” Apple Orchard manager Tony Nuzzo said.

In addition to being a good fit in busy schedules, nine-hole courses also offer a more affordable option to families and a more walking-friendly experience for seniors.

“You play some golf courses these days where the walk from the green you just putted on to the next tee is longer than the hole you just played,” Skubisz said. “A lot of people play Pottawatomie because it is such a good walk that happens to also be a good golf course.”

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