Chicago’s Premier Multimedia Golf Source & Authority August 2006, Vol. 10 No. 6
Titan of Turf:
Michigan’s Autumnal Splendor
A Day in the Life
Best Buys at Crystal Woods
Dave Pelz: Short Game Advisor
Jeff Rude on the PGA Tour
on’t think when driving past the Golf Digest and hosting the local qualifying for the
tall stalks of corn as you enter US Open in 2003 and 2005 has firmly implanted
Stonewall Orchard Golf Club that Stonewall Orchard in the category of Chicago’s
you are the first one to draw a upper echelon public golf courses.
similarity to the movie Field of Moving the Illinois PGA’s Section
Dreams. It’s fitting, though, as this Arthur Hills’ Championship from Kemper Lakes to Stonewall
designed gem in northwest suburban Grayslake Orchard in 2004 further raised this course’s
has finally lived up to its “if you build it, they will status. This year’s IPGA Section Championship
come” status. is scheduled for late August at Stonewall with
But it did not happen overnight, even for a University of Illinois golf coach Mike Small
course that when opened in 1999 seemed to have defending his title.
been there for decades. Stonewall is a product of one the best design
Although it endured some lean years early firms in the world: Arthur Hills / Steve Forrest
on, three consecutive “Top Course” rankings by and Associates, based in Toledo, Ohio. Their
noted designs include Bighorn GC in Palm Built on over 600 acres of a previous fruit
Desert, California, and Bay Harbor in Petoskey, orchard (Did you wonder about the name?)
Michigan, just to name two. In 2003, Golf and wetlands, Stonewall Orchard is a graceful
Chicago! ran an extended series by Hills and walk through some of the most beautiful land
Forrest entitled “The Mind of the Architect.” In in northern Illinois. In addition to gently rolling
five easy installments these master designers hills, it is the wetlands that add to both the appeal
gave us great insights into all the considerations and the danger of the course. They add a vista not
involved in creating a masterpiece on turf. seen on most Illinois courses, and attract more
In the first installment Hills wrote, “Our songbirds than a city person can imagine. The
philosophy is to try to lay the holes gently into tall grasses in the wetlands swing and sway in the
the land in the most natural and unobtrusive wind as the birds call to one another, but beware,
way possible.” One round at Stonewall Orchard this can be a siren song for golfers.
is all the evidence players need to see that Hills Hills used the wetlands on many holes to create
achieved his goal. carries either from the tee or on second shots.
The Titan of Turf
Orchard by Bill Daniels
Sometimes the danger is real, requiring a heroic shot, the fairways make this course one to add to your
other times it is only illusory. But the psychological must-play list, if just for the fact that each hole
element is the same for both, creating some anxious has a character all its own and rarely does any
moments for all but the very brave. With a revised hole parallel another.
slope of 148 from the back tees and a rating of 74.7, “Just like everyone else in the area, times
Stonewall Orchard is not for the meek, but it’s not were tough for us in the beginning, but we knew
unfair in its design either: it has only 41 bunkers. we had a great course and that after a few years
Playing as long as 7,074 yards from the back tees (not people would learn that we’re worth checking
recommended unless you make a living from there) out,” said Head Pro Jeff Pajula, who has been
is enough to humble even an adept player, but if you there from day one. Starting as an assistant
scoot to the forward tees, there is plenty of challenge professional when the course opened, he was
and danger at 6,052 yards. promoted to head pro and director of golf in 2004.
No houses, lush conditions, an abundance of A solid player and teacher, Pajula finished in the
wildlife, and acres of oak and pine trees lining top 12 of last year’s IPGA Section Championship
Stonewall Orchard is a graceful walk through some of the
most beautiful land in northern Illinois. In addition to gently
rolling hills, it is the wetlands that add to both the appeal
and the danger of the course.
to earn a spot in the PGA Club Professional side and the aforementioned wetlands fronting a
Championship held earlier this summer in narrow green guarded behind with bunkers and
Verona, New York. out-of-bounds. A few forced carries off the tee on
“When Golf Digest first ranked us among the the front side can be a bit harrowing, especially
top public courses in Chicago, we were elated, on the 8th hole, a 510-yarder that starts at a tee
but we also released a collective sigh because surrounded by towering pines and a forced carry
we realized that all the hard work was finally of anywhere from 160 to 250 yards over wetlans
beginning to pay off,” added Pajula. filled with white egret and blue heron.
The front nine opens harmlessly enough with What’s really fun about Stonewall are its four
a 402-yard par-4 which doglegs just slightly over a terrific par-3s, starting with the 187-yard 5th hole
well-placed bunker along the right hand side of the that players have to navigate between a pair of
fairway and leads into a generously sized green. oak trees to a green surrounded in front and back
Things get a bit more serious at hole No. 2, a 361- by water. The 182-yard 9th is another beauty,
yard par-4 with a giant lake along the entire left with a lake guarding the green on the right. The
elevated tee box looks down onto a spacious where two good shots are needed to put you in
green protected with bunkering and framed by position to reach a green guarded in the front
the clubhouse. Although Stonewall has enough by mounding and bunkers and to the side and
signature-type holes to fill a full-year’s calendar, behind by water.
the 13th has always been a frontrunner. Playing Stonewall Orchard is the kind of course
between 153 and 193 yards, this par-3 features where you need to choose the tees that fit
a carry entirely over those wetlands to a green your game. While 17 handicaps and above are
surrounded by pine trees with little bail out room encouraged to use the white tees, even low
on either side. The final par-3, at No. 17, features handicappers will be in for a challenging day
a long narrow tee box and a long narrow green. from these tees. “Our goal is to present every
This combination allows the hole to play from golfer with eighteen challenging, dramatic,
anywhere between 130 and 190 yards. memorable, and unique golf holes, where
The finishing hole is also one that receives every golf shot must be thoroughly analyzed
plenty of attention, a 612-yard behemoth par-5 continued on page 47
Stonewall Orchard Best Buys
continued from page 28 continued from page 12
before it can be executed,” especially when you are pitching or chipping through a tree-lined fairway. The bacon strip
wrote Hills in his 2003 onto them. green is sloped severely from back to front
essay for Golf Chicago!. He There are several holes that are parallel and is also fronted by water. I’m not sure how
to each other, so if you are wayward, be like Linkrat and Big Nasty missed the fairway.
was surely thinking about Big Nasty and miss by a bunch–kind of like You could land a small plane on this fairway.
Stonewall Orchard. Michelson at Winged Foot. I mentioned vari- Seeing that from the tee gave me confidence,
ety earlier; how ‘bout the back nine? It offers and I pumped it 300 yards riding the prevail-
equality in its par offerings. ing wind. But Linkrat had the last laugh as
Stonewall Orchard Golf Club I dubbed the eighth hole the Gilligan’s he curled in his downhill 18-foot slider for
25675 W. Route 60 Island hole. Unlike the Linkrat, I didn’t come his lone tweedy of the round.
north of I-90 to lay-up. I took a chance and Keep it straight out here at Crystal Woods
scored my first birdie of the day, capturing a and enjoy your time at a track that feels like
847-740-4890 skin from the other two wimps that played it a private club, yet will not break the pock-
www.stonewallorchard.com it smart and carded a couple of pars. etbook. Don’t walk—run to make your next
Length: 7,074 yards Hole 12 has to be one of the best tests tee time at Crystal Woods.
on this wonderful track. It plays downhill Course 8 Courtesy 8 Value 9
Head pro: Jeff Pajula
Greens fee: $74 on weekends, plus
$16 for cart
Tee times: Accepted 14 days in
Bottom line: Play from the
correct tees and enjoy the
course layout and the beauty
that surrounds you in the
way of oak trees, pine trees,
wildlife, water, and wetlands.
Like any great course,
Stonewall Orchard is not a one
trick pony. It must be played
numerous times in order to
take advantage of the risk- Crystal Woods Hole #12.
Short Game Advisor
continued from page 41 your game, so you’re ready to save strokes landing area. Think about ground condi-
next time you face these situations. tions, slopes and nearby hazards, and how
predict how a ball will fly, bounce, or roll If you practice these shots and learn how your ball might react once it lands. Consider
from lies like the ones pictured to greens balls react to different conditions, you will train the consequence of your ball carrying too
that slope away from you unless you’ve hit your Red Flag alerts to pop up more often and short or too far and finding trouble. Then
those shots and watched their results. Too you’ll be prepared to play smarter shots with play the shot that escapes the bad lie without
many golfers only practice shots from level, more predictable results in tough situations. creating additional problems.
“perfect” lies. During your next round, take You’ll be practicing “damage control” and sav- Becoming aware of all these factors and
note of how many times you hit shots from ing strokes like you see so many pros on the adapting to them to avoid major disaster
an uneven or troubled lie that you haven’t professional tours do week in and week out. scores will make you a better player. You’ll
ever practiced. I think you’ll find it’s time When playing recovery shots, pay atten- see the results in your handicap!
you worked on this overlooked aspect of tion to more than just your lie and your Good Luck and Good Scoring to You!
August 2006 47