Driving to Timber Pointe Golf Club, through miles of cornfields, my expectations were not high. Having lived in southern Illinois and played my share of cornfield golf, I was expecting a flat, boring course, devoid of challenge or beauty. I was wrong on both counts: Timber Pointe is a very challenging course that offers some excellent parklands vistas.
The practice facilities at Timber Pointe were the first indication that it’s a much better course than I had expected. The grass driving range can easily accommodate a dozen golfers and stretches back over 250 yards. The putting green is not only large, but it’s adjacent to the first tee, allowing golfers to warm up right until they tee off. Finally, there’s short game area where golfers can hit bunker shots and pitch shots up to 60 yards long. My only knock on this last feature is that I didn’t even know it was there until I was playing the back 9.
Amenities & Customer Service
Everyone that I encountered at Timber Pointe was exceptionally nice and helpful. The drink cart was particularly swift: we saw it four times during a 3.5 hour round.
The clubhouse is on the small side, but it had everything that you’d expect: ample branded apparel, loads of golf balls, plenty of Footjoys, and other small items (tees, gloves, etc). There is a restaurant in the clubhouse, but I didn’t have time to dine during my visit, so I can’t comment on that.
Bottom line: the people are extremely friendly and make the experience very positive. It’s not stacked with “extras,” but it covers the essentials.
For me, good course conditions start on the greens. On the day I played, Timber Pointe’s greens were among the most consistent, smoothest that I’ve played this season. That isn’t to say they were fast, they were not, but the speed was never a surprise and the ball never hopped or changed direction.
Similarly, the tees and fairways all looked great and were devoid of any major issues. Of course, there were divots here and there, but it’s clearly a course that is well taken care of. One thing that I noticed about the fairways and green surrounds is that the ball sat up on the grass quite a bit. I imagine this is a result of the type of grass that they use, but I’m not an agronomist nor do I play one on TV. What I can say is that it makes the course very playable for all abilities since there are no uber-tight lies.
My one gripe in this area is that the bunkers were not great. The sand in the bunkers is a little gravelly and the amount of sand is not consistent. Most of the bunkers I saw had very little sand, but a few had deep sand.
Beauty & Scenery
As I said, I was not expecting much when I drove in, but when I saw the course I actually said, “Wow, where did that come from?” The course offers lots of elevation changes and, per the website, 40 acres of established timber, not things you’d expect in the middle of Illinois cornfields.
Though the views from the clubhouse are very nice, there are stretches where the nearby housing development takes over and the course loses its visual appeal. There are two holes, #4 and #11, that run parallel and are defined only by the houses that surround them.
On balance, Timber Pointe is an attractive course that is kept from rating higher by a few unattractive holes.
Course Design & Layout
I’m not sure if it was pure chance or if the course was set up tough for the “course rater,” but Timber Pointe had its claws out the day I was there: there was not an easy pin on the course. These pins just accentuated something that should be obvious to anyone paying attention: Timber Pointe is not an easy course. That said, it’s very fair; there were only 2 or 3 times where I thought, “Oh, I wish I had known that before I hit my shot.”
Another thing I like about Timber Pointe is that there’s a lot of variety. Playing from the blue tees at 6,600 yards, I had lots of choices for my tee shots and I got to hit a variety of shots into the greens. Looking back over the card, there are a few more doglegs to the left than the right, but during the round I felt that I had to call on all my shots to be able to score well.
Now, just because Timber Pointe can be tough doesn’t mean it has to be. The course features 5 sets of tees that are very evenly spaced, from roughly 7,100 yards to just under 5,000. I love this kind of variety, and I particularly like that each set of tees makes sense. What I mean is that there are no holes that are inappropriate distances, like a 400+ yard par 4 on the 6000 yard tees. Each tee box makes each hole play the way it was designed, just shorter or longer.
Continuing on that theme of accessibility, Timber Pointe has almost no forced carries. While I know that forced carries can be beautiful and challenging, they’re also penal and no fun for beginning players. If we are serious about growing golf and expanding accessbility, we need more courses like Timber Pointe.
For the bulk of the season, Timber Pointe costs $30 during the week and $38 Friday-Sunday. Cart rental is an additional $17. In my opinion, the cart is a necessity; there’s way too much green to tee distance.
Given how much I like the layout, I think Timber Pointe is a solid value. Since it’s located over an hour from my house, I can’t say that I’ll be out there regularly, but if I lived within half an hour I would give serious consideration to making it my home course.
One value boost that I always like is that range balls are included in the price of the round. Hit 10 balls, hit 100 balls, hit balls before your round, or fix your swing after, you won’t have to reach for your wallet.
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Overall, I think Timber Pointe is a really good layout. It’s challenging and fun, but it can also accommodate beginners and novice golfers. The course conditions are very nice and consistent, and the pace of play was unbeatable. If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a look.