"The changes are amazing!"
This aptly describes the reinvention of the already stout, 35-year-old golf course following major enhancements the past eight months. Fifteen holes underwent significant renovation while remarkable holes went untouched. Floods which occasionally plagued fairways after heavy rains will no longer occur.
The first hole has become No. 10, contributing to even greater enjoyment. And the addition of multiple tee boxes fulfills better golfers seeking added length and new golfers seeking shorter distances.
Re-configured fairways and bunkers, planting of fescue for depth and definition, and new lakes make for challenging yet fair hazards as well as terrific strategic shot values.
One of many great renovation feats is newly designed holes 16, 17 and 18. Nicknamed "The Final Charge," golfers also call it the most exciting three-hole crescendo in all Illinois. Experience the heap of excitement for yourself.
More "wow:" While charm of the classic Killian-Nugent layout is preserved by the critically-acclaimed re-design team of Lohmann Golf Design (Chicago), new highlights include:
Hole No. 2
This short, 342-yard par 4 tests your skill from the get-go. With water on the right and out of bounds on the left, an accurate tee shot is essential. For risk takers going for the green, let your inner John Daly loose with a long drive over water. Once (or if) you safely hit this fairway, your next shot requires pinpoint accuracy over a creek to the green. Then you cross the long, winding and picturesque bridge to a green that slopes from back to front and toward the water.
Hole No. 6
Tee it high and let it fly down the wide fairway for a birdie opportunity on this 361-yard, par 4. However, if you miss left, a watery grave looms. Your second shot requires well-judged distance to carry water and two greenside bunkers. If you get the ball to the hole, a birdie on this flat putting surface is realistic.
Hole No. 10
A long, narrow start, this hole features a tee off to a well-bunkered landing area. The second shot requires an accurate lay up or precision to shoot for the green in two. The approach shot into an undulating, well-bunkered green is a test in itself.
Picturesque, tree-lined and immaculate conditions from No. 1 tee to No. 18 green, a perfect blend bark and benevolence satisfies golfers of all abilities. Boredom need not apply.
The Final Charge
C'mon, we dare you to overcome Bridges of Poplar Creek’s "Final Charge." We’re talking about holes 16, 17 and 18, lauded as the best "round-ender" in Illinois. A sneak preview before testing your mettle:
Hole No. 16
A long, straight tee shot avoiding the bunker on the right side is a must for this difficult and trying par 4. The second shot is all uphill, requiring an extra club to reach the well-bunkered green. The place to be in two is right in the middle of this rather flat putting surface.
Hole No. 17
The longest par 3 at 215 yards from the championship tees is a unanimous winner. A picturesque but frightening downhill tee shot leads to an L-shaped green almost completely surrounded by water. Playing for the pin is bold but carries reward potential on this multi-tiered green. A wise choice is to aim for the center of the green and run away with a solid par.
Hole No. 18
The longest par four on the course, this hole demands a long tee shot to a wider landing area. The approach shot varies to where the pin is located, but if you are precise in your club choice, you will end up with an easier flat putt. If not, then it’s golfer beware.