This past weekend I celebrated my 31st birthday by playing Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, IL., which is located about 35 miles west of Chicago. While I have played many top courses in the area, I never had the chance to get out to Cantigny despite having lived down the street for almost 10 years. According to the course website, Cantigny is the former estate of Colonel Robert R. McCormick. McCormick was the long time editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune and played a major role in American journalism during the first half of the 20th century. He built the Tribune company from a single newspaper into a major media organization of newspapers, radio, television and newsprint operations.
McCormick later inherited a massive piece of land formerly known as Red Oaks Farm from his mother, a member of the prestigious Illinois Medill family. McCormick chose to name the land Cantigny in recognition of the small French village that was the location of the first American victory during World War I.
In his will, as the website states, McCormick instructed that his estate be used only for philanthropic purposes. In addition to 27 holes of championship golf, Cantigny is also the home of a series of lavish floral gardens and the home base of The McCormick Foundation.
Consisting of three 9-hole courses -- Woodside, Lakeside and Hillside -- Cantigny's golf courses are each unique in their design and challenging in their respective layouts. On this particular day my group played the Hillside-Woodside layout.
Cantigny Golf also boasts a phenomenal caddie program that has to be one of the best in the country. There are over 150 caddies on the roster at any time, all of which striving for a chance at earning the Evans Scholarship. My caddie's name was Jon, and he was incredibly talented and informative throughout the round.
The course itself was a marvel of golf architecture the likes I have not seen around my area, including any of the four offerings at Cog Hill or Ruffled Feathers. Hillside featured rolling hills (hence the course name) and large greens while Woodside was carved out of Cantigny's forest and numerous creeks. The landscape for each nine-hole course was simply stunning and well worth the $95 price tag.
In addition to three fantastic courses, Cantigny also features a large Golf Academy and practice center. Readers of this blog or my work on the Back9Network will know that I have worked with a teaching professional at this practice facility for most of the year. While I have not taken lessons at other courses in the past, I would be hard pressed to find a better group of instructors than what is offered at Cantigny.
For more information on Cantigny Golf, be sure to visit the course website at www.cantignygolf.com.