Golf Chicago!
Greg Miles
Dave Mitchell
Sweet Home Chicago South Side

Cog Hill Lights Up in June

If you are an as avid “twilight” golfer, as I am, this is our month! The elongated daylight in June affords us after-hours duffers a chance to sample the area fare and to figure out the best bang for the buck. Let me tell you, in the south-southwest suburbs there are some pretty impressive choices. My favorite? The venerable Cog Hill in Lemont.

Golf partners are always a bit surprised when I suggest that a twilight round at the “hill” can be had at a reasonable price. In fact, considering the caliber of this fine 70-plus year old facility as compared to others in the Chicago area, it’s one of the better bargain. Pair up, and you can do a round of 18 on course #2 starting at 3pm for $35.50, including the cart. And that 3pm time shifts earlier as daylight wanes in the fall. Courses #1 and #3 are even cheaper, with weekday rates starting at $17.50 plus the cart, and after six in the evening, where even the “lightning rounders” will only get nine in, the rate is $11.50, plus the ride. One bad thing, Dubsdread is not part of the package.

Cog Hill Head Golf Pro Jeff Rimsnider says given the time of year, 18 is easily done. “Yeah,” he says, adding, “We think it’s one of the best buys in the area.” He says, “Things kind of die at around two in the afternoon, as golfers decide to wait for the twilight to begin.” And the volume of play has been steady for years. Rimsnider says much of the play involves leagues that have been taking on the course for a long time. With that in mind, he has a warning. “Some of the evenings are so busy that you may have to play standby.” No fun at all if you were counting on nine or more while the sun’s still up.

This is all part of a legacy of success that goes back to three brothers falling in love with the game in the nearby Palos area. John W., Martin J., and Bert Coghill, (and you thought the course was named for a Cog Hill somewhere on the horizon around Lemont), built the course in the early twenties on a chunk of land in Lemont carved out by the Wisconsin glacier during the last ice age. After attending a tournament where they admit they didn’t know much about golf, they decided they needed to find a place to set up their own course. In the late 1920’s, the Coghills constructed a large beautiful clubhouse, and in the European tradition, the clubhouse had 14 guest rooms for weekend vacations or more extended periods.

Cog Hill also had a Chicago link in those days. Reservations for golf were taken at the Boston Store, one of the city’s leading department stores. Another key to their success was the Chicago & Joliet Electric streetcar system that ran between Argo and Joliet. In those days a round trip ticket between Lemont and Joliet cost only 25 cents. Soon, crowds demanded expansion, and the original #2 Course opened in the fall of 1929 just in time for Black Thursday—the crash of the stock market and the Great Depression. And yet during those years, business tapered off only slightly.

In 1963, the new owner who used to caddy for the Coghills, the late Joe Jemsek, hired Dick Wilson to build a third course. The original layout of Course #1 had the front nine finishing at the clubhouse. This created both a problem and a solution for the new course. The problem was that there wasn’t enough room to have the new course start and finish near the existing clubhouse. The solution was to “break-up” the original #1. The re-configured courses matured and blended into the old, and now most of the remodeled feeling has gone away.

Jemsek, aware they didn’t have a course to equal Medinah #3, asked Dick Wilson to build a fourth course, good enough to hold a U.S. Open or PGA Championship. Dubsdread, #4, finished in 1964 and is now ranked among the top courses in the United States by many of the tour professionals. The Dubsdread name, by the way, came from a course in Orlando, Florida and translates to “dubbers beware”.

Head pro Rimsnider says interest in the course has remained steady, and even noted, “The big outings are back.”

This year the facility is home of the Advil Western Open in July again, as well as other tournaments and outings featuring companies like McDonalds and the Federal Reserve Bank, and organizations like Junior Achievement, Tru-Serve and the Chicago Board of Education. And in the fall the course is home to four high schools for the purpose of practice and playing out their seasons.

Cog Hill is proud of its junior program, which began in earnest in 1987. Working with the Lemont Park District to provide quality golf instruction for the youth of the area was the priority. The program includes group instruction, a peewee league, a nine-hole league, an 18-hole league, and the Sizzler Golf tournament. The program annually introduces over 200 boys and girls to the game and the Sizzler has grown to a two-day event with 400 plus entries each year.

Even as the sunlight wanes on this course, specifically at #2, I always seem to play well. At twilight the course remains a challenge and the greens true. No better example then a few Octobers ago when I joined a morning group that was held up because of a bit of frost. When the day warmed, and the frost evaporated, we noted that the greens were just as fast and steady as they had been a previous Monday afternoon when the weather was unusually warm.

Typical of a truly wonderful course, I have to keep my excuses in the bag.

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Last Updated:7/11/02