Skokie Country Club,
Thirdhole, 570 yards; The three par fives on the Championship Course are notable for the pressure that they apply on thesecond shot. An impressive array of bunkers must becontended with if the golfer hopes to have a wedge in his hands for his third shot. Importantly, Prichard expanded and recontoured the fairway just past these bunkers to give the golferplenty ofincentive for risking the carry.
Fourthhole, 440 yards; Skokie occupies 160 acres of land which isn’t big by today’s standards. Nonetheless, Ross and then Langford/Moreau created numerous interesting playing angles by their imaginativeplacement of bunkers.At the fourth,Prichard turned a right fairway bunker back into the fairway. When combined with the six foot deep left greenside bunkerand another one thirty yards from the green, the golfer appreciates the hole’s strategicflair, unusualfor astraight hole.
Eighthhole, 430 yards; Ross, the all-time master of routing,made the most of the higher groundaround the clubhousewhen heplaced thefirst tee,ninth hole,tenth tee andeighteenth green on it. In addition, he preserved much of theeighth hole as per Bendelow’s original work withthe crownedeighth green being thesole original Bendelow green remaining on the course. Similar to Ross’seighteenth green atop a hillock,the golfer must stay below the hole location at all costs.Otherwise,both the eighthandeighteenth greensprovideanideal opportunityto practicefour putting.
Tenthhole, 410 yards; Originally thefirst hole on Ross’s course, Langford/Moreau switchedRoss’sfirst andtenth holes in 1938. The two holes sharemany of the same appealing attributes:aninspiring view from the elevated tee, the approach bunkers shy of the green,and abuilt-up green pad, bunkered both right and left. In the case of thetenth hole, the approach bunkers areoff setfrom one another, which creates added depth perception problems.
Eleventhhole, 560 yards; This beautifully conceivedhole is but another example of why Langford/Moreau deserve far more recognition than perhaps they have received to date. Vaguely in a soft’S’ shape, the eleventhrequires the golfer going for the green to shape the ball both ways. By re-positioning the fairway and adding a left fairway bunker, Prichard asks for adraw off the tee. Byhaving a third cross bunker extend into the fairway from the right hand side of the rough at the 130 mark from the green, Prichard asks for afade to get close tothe green.The need to shapea ball both ways on the same hole is a sure way to identify the better player.
Twelfthhole, 230 yards; The most memorable one shotter on the courseisconfiguredlike thesixteenth at Cypress Point. The direct route is all carry over water withLangford/Moreau providing a bailout fairway along the left of the water hazard. Asnerve-racking as the hole is today, it was this length in 1938!
Fifteenthhole, 350 yards; A short two shotter like the ones found at Roaring Gap and Essex County add lots of fun toward the end ofa roundand Langford/Moreau should be commended for incorporating this hole so well into Skokie’s final stretch. Originally thetwelfth on Ross’s course, Prichard reconstructed three fairway bunkers, all with particularly high grassbanks.A back right hole locationdictates placing thetee balllong down the left side, which is exactly where the last of the three bunkers is located. The brute one shot 250 yardsixteenth makes for a perfect compliment to this three wood/wedge hole.
Two years after Prichard’s work was completed, the course continues to improve. The re-newed appreciation for classic architecture by its members has helped Don Cross turn off the water and move away from a green, heavily tree-lined parkland course. Once again, the fairways are playing faster and firmer and the player needs toplot his way around the course to avoid the many hazards. In addition, as moretrees are selectively felled, the wind off nearby Lake Michigan is allowed to play a bigger role.
Starting with the member’s support and commitment for a full restorative effort, followed by Prichard’s hands-on detailed work,followed by Don Cross’s playing conditions,Skokie Country Clubhas returned as a beacon of classical architecture. Any club considering such work to their course would do itself well by sending their board members to study the work done – and being done – at Skokie Country Club as they will gain a clear understandingof how to do it right.