50 Words or Less
Midlothian Country Club is a private club in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. A strong test of all aspects of your game that is still fun to play. A recently completed renovation adds a degree of difficulty for the longer, more skilled player.
Founded in 1898, Midlothian Country Club is a fixture on Chicago’s golf scene. The host of the 1914 US Open, it’s a club that’s proud of its history but also aware of the evolving nature of golf. With that in mind, they recently completed a renovation that has kept the course’s character while adding challenge for the longer, modern player.
Midlothian Country Club has a quality driving range a short cart ride from the first tee. It has a spacious grass hitting area, so there is fresh turf throughout the season. Downrange there are several elevated greens.
Back near the first tee, there is a practice green with four or five holes. This green can only comfortably accommodate a foursome, but it does provide a good sampling of the green speed. The one thing you can’t learn from the practice green is how the slopes will affect your putts. This practice green is fairly flat, and, as I’ll discuss in detail later, the greens on the course are not.
Customer Service & Amenities
Midlothian is a complete country club, placing a heavy emphasis on their clubhouse, pool, and dining. Alongside the renovation of the course, the club revitalized their dining venues. For golfers that want a club for their entire family, this is a great choice.
Putting the focus back on golf, what stood out to me was Midlothian’s focus on their caddie program. When we played, every group on the course had a caddie either carrying bags or serving as a forecaddie for riders. Given the importance of strategy and local knowledge, I loved having a caddie to lean on during my round.
Never golfed with a caddie? Get some tips HERE.
Beauty & Scenery
Midlothian offers a pleasant parkland retreat from the hustle of Chicago. It’s a compact course bordered by a neighborhood that you only notice on a handful of holes. The mature tree lines, defined bunkers, and modest elevation changes keep the eye engaged throughout the round. There aren’t any postcard holes, but most have an old school, understated beauty that golfers will appreciate.
*Please note that I brought my signature grey skies with me to Midlothian, so my photographs for this review have been supplemented with professional photos provided by the club.
Your first glance at the scorecard may have you thinking that Midlothian Country Club isn’t very long. The course maxes out at 6,928 yards and can play as short as 5,211 with five sets of tees or combo tees in between. A second look will have you realizing that it’s a par 71. Finally, a hole-by-hole inspection will reveal that the par 4s are a stout bunch; it’s the lack of gargantuan par 5s that keeps the total yardage “low.” This is not a short course.
One of the focal points of the recent renovation was adding new tee boxes. In addition to stretching out the length, many of these new tees present new sight lines. On some holes, the blue tees aren’t much longer, but they will demand a shaped tee shot where the white tees look straight down the fairway.
More important than the yardage is the fact that the fairways at Midlothian are narrow. You need to pair adequate distance with above average accuracy to score well. This course doesn’t feel claustrophobic off the tee, but that’s not an invitation to play bomb and gouge. The tree lines are thin enough to allow for recovery opportunities, but every foray into the woods is a chance to be stymied by branches.
Missing the fairway not only brings tree trouble into play, it will also limit your distance. The rough at Midlothian is not very long, but it is extremely thick. Even a scorched drive won’t get more than a few yards of roll.
Finally, the other focus of the renovation was the bunkering. All 82 bunkers were updated, and many of them feature prominently on the tee shots. If you’re playing the appropriate tees, the fairway bunkers feel very relevant and will impact your view of the hole. Throughout the course, there’s a nice mix of shallow and deep bunkers, adding another layer of advantage to local knowledge.
If your tee shot finds the fairway, you’re set up well for your approach. With the fairways being narrow, angles are not at a premium on most holes. Also, the fairways undulate very modestly, so you’re likely to have a flat, even lie.
Should your ball find the rough, anything can happen. The rough is thick which means the ball can be sitting up on top of it, buried deep in it, or somewhere in between. Your next shot might be a flyer, the rough may grab the hosel, you simply don’t know. In addition, you’ll likely be contending with the trees. The trees are spaced perfectly to allow for recovery shots but also swat down any ball that misses its target. Take the bold line at your own risk.
Regardless of where you’re playing from, Midlothian’s primary defense is its small greens. This is a course that is likely to hurt your GIR stats if your iron play is not dialed in. On most holes, you can run the ball into the green, but the aerial approach is preferred.
Finally, when planning your approach, you need to think about good places to miss the green. If you leave a bunker between yourself and the green, par becomes a remote possibility. Similarly, short siding yourself or putting the ball above the hole are bad ideas. This is a course where consistently missing the green short is not terrible. Several holes feature steep fall offs from the back of the green, as seen above.
Greens & Surrounds
If you’ve hit the green in regulation, congratulations, you’ve done the hard part. The greens at Midlothian are smooth and quick but not blindingly fast. There’s also not much undulation, so it’s very possible to make a lot of putts. However, nearly every green has a substantial tilt. If you find yourself above the hole, you need to putt defensively or you can find your ball rolling all the way off the green.
Around the green, there’s a nice variety of rough, bunkers, and tightly mowed areas. Most holes feature tightly mowed grass running into the green. These areas as puttable but not super tight, so they leave golfers with every option for getting the ball on the green.
If you’re in one of the many greenside bunkers, you’ll need a strong blast to excavate your ball. The Pro / Angle sand is some of the heaviest I’ve played from. For the confident bunker player, this is actually helpful because the ball will come out softly. If you try to pick the ball from the sand, my advice is to avoid these bunkers at all costs.
Above all, what Midlothian demands from your short game is a very tidy pitch or lob shot. When you find yourself out of position, it’s the only way to salvage a par putt. Because the greens are small and firm, low, running pitch shots will not play. And unless your ball striking is elite, you can bet on being out of position at least a couple times during your round.
Midlothian Country Club strikes a fantastic balance, providing a stout challenge without beating the fun out of the game. To score well, you need to hit straight drives and very accurate approaches. However, hitting a crooked tee shot or missing the green doesn’t feel like it takes you out of the hole.
I also love the strategic demands of the course. This track rewards deep local knowledge – or those smart enough to lean on their caddie. There are a lot of ways to get around this course if you have a savvy plan and the determination to stick to it.
#14 – Par 4 – 321 Yards
This short par 4 is the type of hole you could play repeatedly and never be satisfied. To take a direct line to the flag, you need to carry your tee shot around 230 yards with accuracy. The more conservative approach is no picnic as you need to hit a specific line and distance to stay out of the trees. Your second shot must contend with water right and a deep bunker left. On the scorecard, this is a birdie hole. In reality, it can be a breathless par.
#2 – Par 3 – 223 Yards
I’m normally not a fan of long par 3s, but I love the wildly different angles that these tee boxes create. Even the forward tees play at 170 yards, so it’s demanding for all players. The green is narrow from right to left, so ping-ponging over the green is a real possibility. Many hopes for low scores will die on this hole.
#13 & #7 – Par 5 – 531 & 559 Yards
The first two par fives play like mirror images of each other, and are great examples of how to make a challenging par five without tremendous length. Both holes are largely straight, but the green is set 90 degrees to the right or left of the fairway, protected by trees and sand. To get an eagle putt requires two truly elite shots.
For golfers in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, Midlothian Country Club is a wonderful choice for a home track. If you play here consistently, you will have a game (and handicap) that travels very well. More importantly, it’s a course that makes the round enjoyable while providing a strong test.
Visit Midlothian Country Club HERE
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Great insight on a great (and very underestimated) golf course. Midlothian Country Club is a great track in a lot of respects.