Bowes Creek C.C. sits amid scenic bluffs, stands of mature trees, wetlands and a lake. (Courtesy of Bowes Creek C.C.) The American Society of Golf Course Architects awarded Bowes Creek a Design Excellence Award in September 2013. (Courtesy of Bowes Creek C.C.) Bowes Creek has the player-friendly touches typical of Rick Jacobson courses. (Courtesy of Bowes Creek C.C.) A massive green awaits at Bowes Creek Country Club's 17th. (Courtesy of Bowes Creek C.C.)

Rick Jacobson crafts a gem at public Bowes Creek Country Club west of Chicago

With his golf course design business based 30 miles away in Libertyville, Ill., highly acclaimed Rick Jacobson was an obvious and convenient choice to build Bowes Creek Country Club in Elgin.

Based on reviews on, locals approve of the work of their native son, giving Bowes Creek an average rating of 4.5 on a scale of 5.

Located 40 miles west of downtown Chicago, Bowes Creek Country Club has many of the player-friendly touches typical of Jacobson courses. It has wide fairways, big greens and multiple, scattered tee boxes, giving holes an array of different looks.

"You could play from different sets of tees and feel like you were playing a different (course)," wrote Wallnut 21 on

Bowes Creek measures 6,917 yards from the back tees with a rating of 73.2 and a slope of 142. This is a housing community course set on an extraordinary piece of property with rolling farmland bisected by Bowes Creek. There are scenic bluffs, stands of mature trees, wetlands and a lake.

"The most beautiful course I have ever played," u000004398785 wrote. "Hard to believe you're in South Elgin."

As a "smart-growth" initiative of the city of Elgin, creating the Bowes Creek golf course wasn't easy. There were environmental barriers and other bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

A decade passed from the time Jacobson first viewed the property to its opening in 2008, when it became his first original course in his home state. According to the American Society of Golf Course Architects, Jacobson did it right. The organization awarded Bowes Creek a Design Excellence Award in September 2013.

An example of the excellence at Bowes Creek are its intricate, sprawling bunkers with tall fescue eyebrows -- giving them "a rugged look" and a "prairie feel," Jacobson said upon the course's opening.

"Those fairway and greenside bunkers are beautifully designed but swallowed up more than a few of what I thought were decent shots," wrote tojokota, of Franklin Park.

One way to avoid the bunkers is by using the state-of-the-art, touch-screen GPS system at Bowes Creek, a feature that draws a flood of praise from reviewers on

It's taken Bowes Creek just five years to establish itself among the best public golf courses in the Chicago area, worth the weekend rate, which tops out at $95. The only Chicago-area courses that rank as high on are White Hawk Country Club in Crown Point, Ind., (4.7), ThunderHawk Golf Club in Zion (4.6) and Oak Grove Golf Course in Harvard (4.5).

One player from South Elgin ranks Bowes Creek second to none.

"This is my favorite public course in Illinois; just spectacular," wrote u000006512630. "It really doesn't feel like you're in Illinois with the surrounding natural beauty. Also incredibly maintained, and the rest of the facility (clubhouse, driving range, practice areas) is top notch. Best course around, period."

Sep 26, 2013

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Kevin Dunleavy


Kevin Dunleavy is a longtime resident of northern Virginia, a graduate of George Mason University, an award-winning reporter covering golf, colleges, and other sports for the Washington Examiner, and a single-digit handicap still seeking his elusive first hole-in-one. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KDunleavy.