By Scott Taylor
I was given a scoop on a course down south, so I had to check it out.
The Pontiac Elks Lodge and Golf Course is the farthest south we have traveled for a review and we were not disappointed.
It is a semiprivate course, which offers membership rates for both Elks members ($725) and non-Elk members ($1,025). Those prices include unlimited golf, but do not include cart fees, which are $16 for 18 holes.
Green fees are cheap at just $22 during the week and $26 on weekends and holidays, making it a steal of a weekend tee time.
With those prices, some may assume the course isn’t kept up well, but that is not the case. The course was fast and firm and the greens were in very good shape.
With all of the slopes, the greens were among the hardest I’ve played on. Rarely was there a straight putt and if you had one, you were either putting uphill or downhill. It was also imperative to be on the right portion of the green. If the pin was in the front of the green and you were in the back, it was a long, downhill putt, making it a difficult three-putt. It is also important to not short-side yourself around the green or the prospects of making it up-and-down for the average player are slim to none.
As for the course layout, the first hole is a 389-yard par-4 that doglegs left. It is important to keep to the right side of the fairway with your drive as a large, mature tree hangs over the left side of the fairway, blocking the green. The second hold is 360 yards with water all down the left side and a large amount of trees on the right side.
The third hole is a 479-yard par-5. It is definitely reachable in two, but the second shot is difficult as the hole doglegs right near the green, making you carry trees to hit the green. A safe layup to the left side of the fairway is a smart play. That is followed by a 176-yard par-3 over water, with a severely sloped green.
Next up is the hardest ranked hole on the course and also was one of my favorite. It is a downhill par-4, playing 378 yards with a treelined background. Water comes in to play on the left off the tee, but I thought there was plenty of room right. There is a large bunker guarding the green, which I guess makes the hole more difficult than I think.
The sixth hole is a par-4 at 397 yards, which has a bit of a dogleg right. The seventh hole has a slight bend right and plays at 538 yards. No. 8 is a 215-yard par-3 with water to the right and bunkers guarding the front sides of the green, making it a very difficult hole. The ninth hole doglegs left with a bunker down the lefthand side to guard against cutting off the dogleg. It is possible to carry it, but a pushed attempt right can run through the fairway into the water.
At just 344 yards, the second nine starts with a shorter par-3, which doglegs right. A great drive can lead to a very short approach shot if you can cut the dogleg around the trees. No. 11 is a 509-yard par-5 that has a bunker in the middle of the fairway under 100 yards from the green, making your layup strategy more important.
The 12th hole is one of the straightest holes you will find on the course and that is followed bar a 128-yard par-3. The 14th hole is a difficult par-4 that has a sharp dogleg right. But it is hard to cut the dogleg with a pond to the right of the fairway. Bailing out left could lead to driving it through the fairway or into houses to the left. An iron off the tee may be the safest play, but at 391 yards, that would lead to a long approach shot.
A par-5 follows at 529 yards. On this day it played down wind and was reachable in two. However, there is a pond to the front right of the green and the subtle dogleg right leads to many fairway shots going into the rough off the tee. The 16th hole is a 216-yard par-3 with bunkers on both sides of the green.
The 17th is a dogleg left, which leads to my other favorite hole, the 355-yard, par-4 final hole. It is a dogleg left over water and downhill, but you need to be on the right side of the fairway as trees block the green on the left side. The green is fairly hidden and the easy play is to hit the practice green (which I did after being blocked by the tree).
While this course is a long drive (especially if you are in the north suburbs) it is well worth the trip. It not only costs less than many of the suburban courses, there is less play on it, meaning the chances of a long round are slim. Especially for the price on the weekends, this is well worth taking an extra hour trip to play.