Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 1
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 1
The first green at Lick Creek Golf Course is a tasty target. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 3
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 3
The 354-yard third hole at Lick Creek Golf Club is part of a relatively gentle opening stretch that helps you ease into your round. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 5
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 5
Lick Creek's 410-yard fifth hole starts off the course's own version of Amen Corner, nicknamed "The Triangle" by the regulars. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 6 tee
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 6 tee
See that tiny patch of short grass up there among the trees? That's your target off the tee at Lick Creek Golf Course's 586-yard par-5 sixth hole. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 6 green
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 6 green
Once you reach the green at Lick Creek Golf Course's 586-yard par-5 sixth hole, take a look back and be glad you've only got one more hole left of "The Triangle. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 7
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 7
The approach on the 385-yard seventh hole at Lick Creek Golf Course is one of the prettiest on the course. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek G.C. - 8th
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Lick Creek G.C. - 8th
Many holes at Lick Creek Golf Course, like the 206-yard eighth, play uphill. Most of the rest play downhill. Club selection is at a premium. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek GC - 10th hole
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Lick Creek GC - 10th hole
The short par-4 10th hole at Lick Creek Golf Course plays around, or over, a pond. Neither route feels very promising if your game is shaky. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 12
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 12
The par-3 12th at Lick Creek Golf Course is a birdie opportunity, but keep the ball below the hole as the green is canted severely from back to front. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 15
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 15
The 192-yard par-3 15th hole at Lick Creek Golf Course can be "electric. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 16
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 16
The 427-yard 16th hole at Lick Creek Golf Course is a great birdie opportunity for big hitters who can cut the corner of the dogleg. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor
Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 18
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Lick Creek Golf Course - hole 18
The stout 502-yard closing hole at Lick Creek Golf Course has a split fairway. Just make good decisions, and play with power and precision, and you'll be fine. Kiel Christianson/Golf Advisor

Licking your chops at Lick Creek Golf Course in Pekin, Illinois

PEKIN, Ill. -- Are you one of those golfers who think that a municipal course that costs around $40 to play and ride is "below" you? Then either stop reading now or be prepared to be disabused of your prejudice.

Lick Creek Golf Course in Pekin, just outside Peoria, delivers enjoyment and challenge to golfers of all skill levels, and it's in excellent conditioning from tee to green. If you plopped Lick Creek into a major metropolitan area, it could be a hoity-toity private club. But be grateful that it is not, because the muni atmosphere only adds to the fun.

Lick Creek is a Larry Packard design that opened in 1974. Packard, who died early in 2014 at 101 years of age, designed courses with average recreational players in mind. Accordingly, Lick Creek has a wonderful mix of easy and hard holes, including the course's own Amen Corner -- nos. 5, 6 and 7 -- nicknamed "The Triangle" by the regulars. The 586-yard par-5 sixth is an absolute bear, with a long forced carry, uphill, off the tee to a narrow sliver of visible fairway, a semi-blind lay-up and a tucked green.

Before you get to that stretch, though, the layout opens with a short par 4, where a gentle draw to a blind landing area leaves a downhill approach to a table-top green. The par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth are also all forgiving. Lick Creek Golf Course's short par-4 10th is a wicked cape hole that loops left to right around a pond to a fairly severe uphill green. And the split-fairway par-5 18th requires both power and precision -- and a couple of good decisions -- to navigate successfully.

Don't let the slightly dog-eared muni clubhouse fool you: Conditions at Lick Creek are excellent. The course underwent an extensive renovation in 2006, during which bent grass was laid down from tee to green. The bunkering was redone throughout as well, and several greens were tweaked.

The results will have you licking your chops.

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
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Licking your chops at Lick Creek Golf Course in Pekin, Illinois
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