Muni appreciation thread

Golf is not all country clubs, resorts, and destination courses. It’s a blue collar game for blue collar folks.

Let this space serve as an homage to municipal and value golf. Whether it’s the course you’d jump the fence to sneak in a few holes while evading the ranger as a kid, your thursday night league track, or the spot you bring your buddies who don’t golf so you can drink but can still play an interesting round, I want to hear about it.

Also, offer up takes on what makes a great or terrible muni beyond width and angles.

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Ponky in Canton MA is my go to public golf love hate relationship. 2 Courses, Course 1 is in great shape after years of shambles. Course 2 is either underwater or bone dry sand pit. $30 to walk but $60 to ride. No round is under 5 hours. Maybe a beer cart comes around maybe not. depends on the day. But every year we play it and its a blast.

We once left after the 13th hole because it was already 5 hours. Passed 4 guys in cut offs and flip flops 3 holes ahead and it didnt surprise us one bit. Place is comedy mixed with why we love the game.

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I played Kahuku on Oahu a couple weeks ago while on vacation. It was an absolute golf amusement park in the best sense of the phrase. A ton of interesting shots and angles. A ton of opportunities to put the ball in a place that would feed it to the hole. Would play there everyday if I could!

Unfortunately it is the only truly municipal course (city/publicly owned) course that I’ve played like that. I’ve seen a lot that could be fun or interesting if they had sufficient resources but they are generally in poor shape. I’ve gotten the impression that most municipalities are moving away from operating munis and allowing a specialized operator to do it. Rackham near the Detroit Zoo is one example. Seem to be much better run and are heading in the right direction but are still a little behind the 8 ball.

Cool thread.

Sweetens gets all the love in Chattanooga but a Brainerd Golf Course is a great little muni. The management is a bit persnickety , but as the only true Donald Ross/strategic design in the city limits, it’s a pretty great track.

I lived in Charlotte up until recently and Monroe Golf Club (Monroe, NC) and Lancaster Golf Club (Lancaster, SC) both have Ross front 9’s that are pretty untouched and very fun back 9’s. With the 3 prestigious private Ross courses in town, those are a great option for us plebes who aren’t balling hard enough (yet) to join a club.

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This … This is my favorite muni and my favorite muni story.

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I have a few personal favorite munis:

Downers Grove GC - Downers Grove, IL
Andy Johnson has a great write up on it over at The Fried Egg so I won’t give a hole by hole breakdown. A brief synopsis: The original site of the Chicago Golf Club, what is now known as Downers Grove GC was designed by CB MacDonald and built in 1892. It was the first 18 hole course in United States.

After the club moved to its current home in Wheaton, the old course changed hands a few times and went through multiple changes. What remains is a 9-hole track with 5 of the original hole designs (and one tree), including the reverse Redan 8th. The OG holes are incredible if not a bit overgrown and I don’t know of another place where you can play a piece of American golf history for $25. Local coldbeers on tap is also a bonus.

Weibring Golf Club - Normal, IL
The home course of the Illinois State University golf team, Weibring GC is well kept, immensely walkable and offers considerable variety for $34 on a weekend. Given that it’s built into an old corn field, it’s relatively flat, but the few holes that feature elevation change utilize it spectacularly. It’s a bit narrow and incredibly wooded even after a substantial tree removal program, but there are few forced carries and a fair test for high cappers. Stop in the clubhouse for an Avanti’s Gondola or roller dog, which are better than they deserve to be.

Stony Creek GC - Oak Lawn, IL
This place is just downright fun. $26 gets you hoofing the 4400 yds during prime time. It’s not transcendent by any stretch of the imagination, and #widthandangles definitely isn’t the name of the game, but there’s just something enjoyable about this place.

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This right here. You expect premium clubs both private and public to have a bit of a stuffy attitude, but I am always so irked when a budget muni has this attitude. So unnecessary, and intimidating for new golfers.

I play the most muni-ish muni there is. I give you, Overlook Golf Course in Lancaster PA.

As you can see, there is a certain, shall we say, back-and-forth aspect to it. Width and angles, as in, you can always choose to play up an adjacent fairway.
But all that aside, I love it. They keep it in good shape, the staff is nice, walk-able AF, pace of play is great, I meet tons of great people out there, and get a good rate. What more can I ask from a muni?

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Has anyone played Commonground in Aurora, CO outside of Denver. That’s been on my list for a while.

Downers Grove high on my list.

In my neck of the woods big fan of the following:

Truro Highland Links, Truro, MA (Cape Cod). Cliffside true links. Very firm, very fast, muni conditioned, quirky, awesome.

Keney Park in Hartford, CT. Haven’t played since the restoration. Must play.

Fenwick in Old Saybrook, CT (1896), 9 holes, can play for around $25. coastal.

Shennecossett in Groton, CT (a Ross) are great bangs for the buck. Big navy presence and affiliated Navy submarine workers at Shennecossett. Good spot. coastal

Marion Golf Course, Marion, MA. 1904 George Thomas. $20, 9 holes.

My childhood course, Simsbury Farms, in Simsbury CT. Layout has variety, probably hit through most of your bag unless you are truly a big hitter. Some tough par 3’s, and very gettable par 5’s, that a few play as 4.5, which is awesome. Fall is the ideal time to play it. Firms up, greens are at their best, and foliage is popping. Can sit up on the hill by the practice green and enjoy a great variety of new england beers outside.

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Oak Hollow Golf Course is owned by the city I live in and is one of two public Pete Dye tracks in NC

Has a challenging layout to it, great views right on the lake and you can play if for under $30 in most all instances.

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Arrowhead GC, operated by Wheaton Park District, is like this. The 27 holes are exceptionally manicured with some big hits and bigger misses (one hole has a pair of dang trees in the middle of the dang fairway). At $65 to walk on a weekend, it’s far from a bargain, especially given the uninspired layout.

Before the WPD took it over, it was an absolute dog track. They poured money into into the course and built a leviathan of a clubhouse, complete with a restaurant full enough of itself to have an “Executive Chef” despite serving slightly better food than Houlihan’s.

Getting a tee time on weekends before noon is impossible because of all the permanent tee times, which is understandable. I play as a single fairly often, and since they don’t take any reservations for singles, I always call to check availability before I leave. More than once I’ve been told on the phone that there is room on the tee sheet but then the person working behind the desk act like they have to move mountains to get me out. It’s very obvious that they’re trying to hard to exude a private club vibe, but with 5 hour rounds and over priced concessions.

This all manifests in the people who play there. It’s all folks who believe that golf courses should be plush and expensive with no real regard for the game itself. They don’t care what the course is like as long as the greens are pure and they can drink overpriced Michelob Ultra on a balcony when they’re done. I watched a guy push his Mizuno staff bag atop a rented pushcart back and forth across 3 fairways to what had to be a +9 before he finally let me play through. I was paired with three high school kids who, in their snobbishness and inflated sense of entitlement gave me a great reminder of why I decided against becoming a teacher.

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If you’re not from the area, Downers Grove definitely isn’t worth a trip in itself out here, like Sweetens is heralded as, but is close enough to plenty of good, attainable courses (Harborside, Ravisloe, Cog Hill, Cantigny, Mt Prospect, even Glen Club isn’t that far) that it would be a perfect tack-on if you were planning a weekend trip to Chicago.

a dog leg or two?

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I’m more looking for this: I’m in Downtown Chicago for a few days for work, what should I play early/late one day or where can I get in some holes around O’Hare.

I haven’t played any golf around O’hare. It’s a very unpleasant commute from just about anywhere.

I lived right outside Commonground for a good while. My fatass used to jog up and down this giant berm that surrounds the back portion of the course. It always looked amazing in the mornings with the sun coming up and haze all over the course. Regretfully, never played it since I hadn’t started golfing while I was living there. It’s on the to do list whenever I find myself back in Colorado.

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Burns Park Golf Course, North Little Rock, AR

My favorite local muni. I get out there at least once a week. Weekday twilight rate for walking 18 holes is 10 bucks. Even if you want to go all out and play with a cart on Saturday morning at 9 am its only 30 bucks. 2 courses which are essentially hard side and easy side. 5 minutes from my office too.

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Coronado’s Back 9 just might be my favorite 9 holes of Muni golf anywhere



Plus the little signs they have on each hole speak to me on so many levels

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That looks fun. A wide open grouping of holes and a more tree lined segment.

Big fan of Oak Hollow. Gotta get back there this year.

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What a great course that is. Best views for the price on the West Coast. Always make a point to play when I’m back home in San Diego.

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