The first 18-hole golf course in the United States of America, Downers Grove Golf Club was designed in 1892 as the original Chicago Golf Club by Charles Blair MacDonald. It is now a 9-hole course that is open to the public.
A Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, Downers Grove Golf Club features mature trees, natural areas and wildflowers and offers a driving range with 24 permanent and turf hitting stations, a large practice putting green, sand trap and chipping area. The driving range features a covered shelter over 10 of the stations, which provide infrared heaters and ceiling fans for a comfortable golf experience.
Ranked one of Chicago’s Top-10 Nine Hole Golf Courses, Downers Grove Golf Course was readied for play in the late spring of 1892, when it became America’s first golf course west of the Allegheny mountain range.
When the inaugural season had ended, the Chicago Golf Club members decided to add nine more holes to the course. Therefore, in 1893, the first eighteen-hole golf course in the United States was established on this site. This golf club was also one of the five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association in 1895.
Later in 1895, Chicago Golf Club members had become so taken with the sport that they decided to build a new eighteen-hole golf course on a larger property (two-hundred acres) located in Wheaton, Illinois. After the Chicago Golf Club members moved to Wheaton, the Downers Grove site reverted back to 9 holes.
From 1895 to 1968, the site of the Downers Grove Golf Club was owned by several different individuals and was operated under the names of The Illinois Golf Club and later the Belmont Country Club. In 1968, the course was purchased by the Downers Grove Park District and was renamed the Downers Grove Golf Club.
Today’s Downers Grove Golf Course is a parkland style course with two ponds and one curvy creek. Mature trees, some native grass areas, and significant elevation changes are its other features. The course plays to par 36 with two par-3’s, five par-4’s, and two par-5’s.
Downers Grove Golf Course Highlights
Right from the start golfers must be on their ‘A’ game at Downers Grove Golf Course because three of the four toughest holes confront players at the start. The par four 1st hole plays 414 yards from the blue tees and begins with an elevated tee shot to an uphill part of the fairway that is protected by mature trees on both sides. The approach shot on the 1st plays to a green that slopes from left to right protected by a tightly-mown run-off area behind the green.
The 467-yard par five 3rd is reachable if you can safely navigate your drive over the pond into the fairway. The hole plays entirely uphill, so you won’t see the green until you’re putting.
The closing hole at Downers Grove Golf Course is a memorable 482-yard par five that requires an uphill drive and an uphill approach shot to a green that slopes from left to right. In between those two shots, the elevation of the hole drops significantly. This is a unique, fun hole that would make initial course designer CB Macdonald proud.