CHICAGO - Forever in the mind of any Chicago area golfer is a photograph. It's the one on the 18th fairway at Cog Hill Golf and CountryClub's Dubsdread course where the Western Open crowd is swarming around asmiling and soon-to-be victorious TigerWoods marching his way to his finalgreen. It's become one of the more famous photos of the best player in theworld on one of the best courses in America.
Since 1964 when Dubsdread opened, the course has received nationalrecognition. It consistently gets five stars from golf publications all overthe world and has been on the list of the world's top 100 courses fordecades. Since 1990 it has hosted the Western Open, the oldest tournament onthe PGA Tour. The U.S. Amateur has been played on Dubsdread's fairways andit's also been considered one of the possibilities for a future U.S. Open.These are all certainly great achievements, but none of them is surprising.
"Dubs," as it has been affectionately nicknamed, is a serious player's golfcourse. The landing areas are tight and the big greens are surrounded withmenacing bunkers. Magnificent mature trees guard the fairways and greens,and there are few, if any, easy holes for the mere mortals among us.
Overall, though, Dubsdread is a fair layout. No tricks, no gimmicks, juststraightforward challenges. Plus, it's as public as public gets.
Sure, the historic Western Open calls "Dubs" home, and the PGA Tour sends its members to Cog Hill to show us all how incredibly mediocre most of us play. But Dubsdread allows each one of us to take that test. We can watch Tiger prowl its fairways and then we can attempt to try to take a few bucks from our buddies on that very same golf course. That's the beauty of "Dubs"and the entire Cog Hill complex.
Dubsdread is the fourth of four courses at Cog Hill, a privately owned facility that is open to everyone. Cog Hill's founder was Joe Jemsek, a former caddie, a high caliber player, and a leader in public golf in America. Cog was his baby and in many ways it still is despite Jemsek's death in 2002. Joe's son Frank now runs Cog, but Joe lived long enough tosee the place evolve and grow and was certainly aware of the legacy he was leaving behind. This is a family run place with mom-and-pop charm.
"You see the owner, Frank Jemsek, helping to change spikes for someone inthe pro shop," says head golf professional, Jeff Rimsnider. "It's that kindof place."
Although Dubsdread is a top-notch golf course, the place is far from pretentious. You'll find no attendants cleaning clubs, no bells and whistles, and no gourmet food in Cog's restaurant. Cog Hill is pure golfwithout the fancy amenities that sometimes get in the way of the game itself. Golf is first at Dubsdread and all the Cog Hill courses.
"They (the Jemseks) continue to improve it (Dubsdread), tweak it andcustomers can see that, " says Rimsnider.
There are several holes you'll remember after playing this Joe Lee and DickWilson design - the 6th, the 16th and the 18th.
The 6th hole is a par-3 and is one of the most visually stunning holes onthe golf course. It can measure out as long as 226 yards and finishes with a2-tiered green that slopes toward the front and is guarded by six bunkers.The PGA Tour's Robert Gamez holds the course record with a score of 64. Whenhe fired that number, the 6th hole was his only bogey.
"The 16th is my favorite hole," says Cog Hill's head pro Jeff Rimsnider."It's a dogleg left with a green surrounded by trees. It's actually tuckedbackin the woods. What a beautiful hole." And a tough one. The perfect tee shotis a slight draw but you must be careful. The fairway is like a racetrackwith a banked curve with everything feeding to the left straight toward acreek that moves from halfway up the fairway all the way to the green.
The finishing hole is what a last hole should be - dangerous by rewardingifplayed well. There's a pond on the left, and everything, fairway to green,slopes toward it. From the back tees it's 448 yards long and the green is a difficult one to two-putt. "It's just not automatic," says Rimsnider. "Paron 18 is huge."
The Western Open celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2003. And even though it's been played at several superb courses like the private Olympia Fields and the exclusive Butler National, the Western Open has found it's best home at Cog Hill's Dubsdread course. It's the Chicago version of BethpageBlack,it's the "people's course", and it welcomes everyone to its green grasses -Tiger, Phil, Davis and you.
Cog Hill Country Club12294 Archer Avenue
The clubhouse at Cog offers traditional American food.
1240 State Street
Dine In/Carry Out
Kerry Piper (Irish)
7900 N. Frontage Road
An Irish pub
Red Roof Inn Willowbrook
7535 Robert Kingery Highway
Fairfield Inn By Marriott Willowbrook
820 West 79th Street
Eat a hot dog at the turn. They are better than the onesat Wrigley Field.
June 26, 2003