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Mistwood Golf Club Review

50 Words or Less

Mistwood Golf Club, located just south of Chicago, is one of the best public golf facilities in Illinois.  Fun, challenging course and a world-class practice facility.

Introduction

If you asked me to create a checklist for a perfect golf facility, my first two items would be a great course and a sprawling practice area.  After that I’d start thinking about a comfortable bar to relax in, a good restaurant, and a staff that creates a welcoming environment.

Having played Mistwood Golf Club, it’s clear that owner Jim McWethy and I have the same vision for what a golf club should be.  His renovation of Mistwood has made it one of the best places to play in a state rich with good courses.

Practice Facilities

I could easily write a few hundred words just on the quality of the Mistwood Performance Center.  The range is enormous and has more targets than I’ve ever seen.

Even better is the short game area.  The green there is large and there’s room to create all kinds of shots.  What elevates it above any other short game area is the wedge range: a separate teeing area that has its own “fairway” and targets from 40-50 yards all the way to about 120.

On the other side of the practice facility, Mistwood has a putting green that can easily accommodate a dozen golfers.

Inside the Performance Center, there are two indoor/outdoor hitting bays.  One is for instruction, and it utilizes technology such as Foresight, 4K cameras, and a BodiTrack pressure sensing mat.  The other hitting bay houses a Top 100 Club Fitting operation.  There’s also a putting fitting studio with a SAM Puttlab.

Mistwood’s members don’t have to shut down their game for the winter either.  Mr. McWethy also owns a golf dome – McQ’s – which will be the first in the US to feature Top Tracer.  Top Tracer will allow golfers to see simulated ball flight, play virtual golf, and take on skills challenges, all from the comfort of the dome.

Customer Service & Amenities

During my visit, the enthusiasm of the staff at Mistwood Golf Club was infectious.  From the GM to the PGA Pros to the staff in the restaurants, I can’t say enough about how friendly and helpful everyone was.

This staff oversees a huge operation at Mistwood.  While the focus is on golf, there’s a lot more going on.  Inside the Performance Center, there’s a bar with light food.  Up at the 29,000 square foot clubhouse, there’s a full service restaurant with great views of the course.  The venue also regularly hosts weddings and events.

Beauty & Scenery

Mistwood does an exceptional job of hiding the fact that it’s located in the heart of the Chicago suburbs.  With the exception of one hole that borders a road and a couple that have houses in view, you never notice anything except the course.

Being that this is Illinois, there’s not much natural drama to the landscape, but architect Raymond Hearn did a great job creating visual interest throughout.  Some of the standout holes at the par 3 7th, which has an infinity green, and Kelpie’s Korner – a stretch of four holes on the back 9 that play around Loch St. James.

Par 3s

The par 3s at Mistwood are some of the most demanding holes on the course.  They’re all medium-long and require a forced carry to some degree.  You see the 14th in the picture above – the opening of Kelpie’s Korner and the most psychologically difficult of the bunch.

All the greens are average in size, though they look smaller from the tee.  Additionally, every green makes use of sand and water to defend par.  If you can escape with a quartet of pars on these holes, you’ll be well ahead of the curve.

Par 4s

Mistwood has long stretches of par 4s – three in a row on the front and four in a row on the back – and its a testament to the quality of the design that those stretches don’t feel monotonous.  This course has nearly every kind of par 4: from driveable to driver-3W.  Even within certain lengths, there’s great shot variety.  You’ll need to hit some tee shots to precise yardages and angles, others are a bomber’s delight.

Mistwood favors large, penal bunkers, but they’re all easy to see and avoid.  There’s very little visual trickery, which players will appreciate.  The greens are average in size and wonderfully shaped.  There are precious few straight putts, but no circumstance where you’ll feel you can’t make it.

Par 5s

Mistwood has the most fun collection of par 5s that I can recall.  If you’re playing from the right tees, each one can be reached if you’ve hit a good tee shot.

What I like best about the par 5s is the way they tempt the golfer into taking the hero shot.  With the exception of the 18th, the greens don’t look too hazardous.  On the other hand, the areas from 30-80 yards short of the green are often narrow and full of bunkers.  If you’ve hit a mediocre shot from the tee, it might be easy to lay up to 100 yards, but after a long drive no one wants to hit back to back wedges.

Each of the par 5s also has a great tee shot.  Holes 3, 8, and 15 will all challenge your nerves.  How much are you willing to bite off?  You’ll be rewarded for the bold line, but you’ll also bring water and sand into play.  The closing hole simply demands excellence with a modest fairway flanked by trees and bunkers.

Course Design

There are two general observations about Mistwood that I think are worth sharing.  The first is that the course plays much harder than the yardage suggests.  This is a course that requires precision more than power.  I think the recommendation that handicaps 7 and higher stick to the black tees (6396 yards) is spot on.

The other thing worth noting is how much fun this course is because nearly every hole is so inviting to the bold play.  This is best embodied in the par 5s, but it’s true of the other holes as well.  Everything is laid out in front of you, and it seems like every hole could be a birdie opportunity.  In truth, you need a strong all around game to score well at Mistwood, but the illusion of scoring chances keeps everyone’s spirits high regardless of their actual score.

Conclusion

The best endorsement I can give to Mistwood is this: if I lived a little closer I would become a member in a heartbeat.  They have the kind of course you’d never get sick of playing because it challenges you without forgetting that golf is supposed to be fun.  On top of that, their Performance Center is among the very best I’ve seen anywhere, and the atmosphere is outstanding.  Whether you’re a local or a visitor to Chicago, Mistwood is a must-play.

Matt Saternus
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4 Comments

  1. Jim Rosteck

    What is an “infinity ” green?

    Thanks

    • Matt Saternus

      Jim,

      A green where you can’t see the back edge. The way I’ve always seen them, they back up to water and appear to back right up to it. If you’ve ever seen an infinity pool, it’s the same idea.

      Best,

      Matt

  2. Todd Sebok

    This play is amazing. From the staff on down to the quality of golf, it has everything a golfer wants!

  3. I am proud to be a former employee and now a member. I saw first hand as a member of the Mistwood team the commitment to quality. That is why I became a member. This is a very well written article and describes Mistwood perfectly. Come tee it up!

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