Bowes Creek Country Club (Elgin, IL)


Certainly, one of the highlights of the Bowes Creek Country Club lifestyle is the outstanding golf course and clubhouse. Created by Jacobson Golf Course Design to be enjoyable for all levels of golfers, the 18-hole golf course ranges from 6,900 yards from the professional tees to 5,000 from the junior tees. Five sets of tees accommodate every level of golfer.

Along with the golf course, Jacobson has designed a full practice area complete with an elevated 30-station driving range with target greens at varying distances, putting and chipping greens, and a private lesson tee. Instead of standard green fees, the club offers a “member for a day” fee as well as yearly memberships. As a “member for the day”, golfers have unlimited golf with a cart and full use of the facility. The clubhouse features a full-service pro shop, men’s and women’s locker rooms, and Porter’s Pub, an English-style restaurant and bar.

“Our goal is to make the game fun and enjoyable while making it interesting and challenging.” – Rick Jacobson, Founder of Jacobson Golf Design

Bowes Creek Country Club is one of those hidden gems in the Chicago Land area, and for most avid golfers it is not even that hidden.  The drive out to Elgin is long and hard and filled with pot holes and traffic jams.  From bucktown (the home of Chicago Golf Guy) it took me well over an hour to get out to Bowes Creek in non rush hour reverse commute times, and I drive like a mad man 90% of the time.  The golf course is a little hard to find being that like most golf courses it is hidden away in a residential community.  There are some big signs that help you along the way, and anyone with an iPhone can find the place as long as you follow directions well (something I am not always great at).  Once the initial troubles of Bowes Creek are overcome (just generally the distance from Chicago and the relatively secludedness) the golf course is easily one of my favorite in Chicago.  Without a doubt there are not many golfers out there that can complain about Bowes Creek and have a leg to stand on.

I played Bowes Creek on a weekday morning for a GolfNow.com price of $45 (that included range balls and cart).  When you first drive up to the club house you are greeted by a very polite employee willing to take your most prized possession and place them on a golf cart while you are free to park your car.  That is a small problem for me, I hate dropping my clubs off at a bag drop.  I don’t like to leave my babies anywhere, and typical if there is a bag drop I find that the carts are not allowed in the parking lot (which is true for Bowes Creek).   Once my initial apprehension of leaving my clubs subsided I realized that the club house lives up to the Country Club name of Bowes Creek CC.  The place was huge, with a great proshop (little with mostly apparel and small golf equipment, but very well put together), and an awesome mens grille overlooking the golf course.  The clubhouse is elevated, and provides a great view of the golf course.  Their is also an outdoor seating area, great for lounging with a few drinks while watching players come up the final hole.  The Bowes Creek mens grille also has a English Pub theme, so there is always soccer on, and plenty of imports to choose from…if that is your thing plan some extra time for drinks and lunch/dinner after or before your round of golf.

Now on to the golf course:  The golf course at Bowes Creek is fun and tough but fair.  There are several tees to choose from and players can play the course as short as 5000 yards, all the way up to 6900 from the tips.  I like a course that gives players several tees to choose from.  When there are only 2 or 3 sets of tees (and one of them is ladies) I believe it slows down play as most players play from too far back because their pride will not allow them to play shorter tees (but that problem is another blog post all together…check it out here).  The course is a par 71 with only one par five on the back  nine.  The par 3’s are pretty tough here, as the third hole can be anywhere from a 200 yard to 180 yard tee shot for the mens tees (not the tips).  The 5th hole is also a par 3 that can play 200-220 yards, and is a difficult green to putt on (lots of undulation).  The front nine is fun with some really tough holes (2 and 4), relatively easy par 5’s (both are very reachable in two with water on the first par five, and nothing but green grass on the second), and we already discussed the front nine par 3’s…very tough.  The front nine does end on a very difficult driving hole the par 4 ninth.  With water guarding the right side, and plenty of fairway bunkers, players must choose to lay up from the tee, and play safe, or bomb the big dog and bring all the trouble into play.

Once you make the turn be sure to check out the halfway house.  The hot dogs were great (they grille them once you order it to heat em up and get some grille marks on them), but it is about a 5-10 min wait.  Beware if the group behind you doesn’t stop and they are right on your tail, they will not be happy you stopped at nine, or will want to play through.  So be sure to grab that hot dog off the grille and get to the 10th tee box as quickly as possible, or do the smart thing and take your time, and let that group go through.  The back nine starts with a short par 5, very reachable in two.  I aim for the rough between the first and tenth holes left of the big tree off of the tee box and I always have less than 240 into the green.  After the 10th hole we hit a stretch of three par 4’s in a row.  All difficult holes, but relatively short if you find the fairway.  Emphasis on finding the fairway off of the tee (who would have thought there would be a premium on finding the fairway off of the tee box in golf?).  The back nine finishes with a flourish of tough par 3 on 16, short par four 17th, and a difficult par four 18th.

The golf course at Bowes Creek is fun, and difficult but fair.  There are some short scoring holes, and some very difficult par threes, but the golf course is in great shape, the greens are in country club status (meaning they are perfect with great undulation, and roll very very smoothly).  I am typically not a fan of a public golf course calling themselves a country club, but Bowes Creek is one that has earned the right of country club status.  The clubhouse is beautiful, the course is a 9.5 out of 10 in conditions, they have a great practice facility, and an awesome short game area.  Tack on the cool men’s grille and you have your self a pretty awesome little country club setting. Bowes Creek does have memberships available, but they also have this membership for the day fee.  Meaning you can make a tee time in the morning, pay the full rate ($79 on weekdays and $98 on weekends) and you can play all day long.  When I played Bowes Creek the first time I paid $79 and got in 54 holes.  This was a August/September in ’10 and it was overcast which scared some people away, but I did get in 54 holes, and even a few extra holes after that before it got too dark.  I really like this idea of member for the day, as it was pretty cool to get out to a public course and treat it like you owned the place (which is what it feels like when you belong to a private club).

I give Bowes Creek Country Club an EAGLE.  The golf course is tip top, the design is great, the conditions are private club standards, the clubhouse is great, and if you do the membership for a day you really do belong to a fantastic club…even if it is just for a day.  The only complaint I had (which didn’t effect my rating) is the drive.  If you live anywhere near Elgin, you should be playing here twice a month for 36 holes at a time a loving this golf course.  I play a few times a summer, and its like a little mini vacation from the city.  Go to Bowes Creek and you will not be disappointed.

***GolfNOW.com note*** I paid $45 on GolfNow.com and that is for one round of golf only.  There is an additional fee of $15 for the membership for a day qualifications.  Still a discount, but just be prepared to shell out a little more cash at the golf course if you booked online at GolfNow.com

Bowes Creek Country Club
1250 Bowes Creek Boulevard
Elgin, IL 60124
847-214-5880

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