The Highlands of Elgin features this par 3, hole #7.
The Highlands of Elgin Welcomes a New Era With the Debut of a Dazzling Course
Say goodbye to Spartan Meadows Golf Course. After a lengthy delay prompted by an unfortunate combination of destructive weather and an economic downturn, the second phase of the Highlands of Elgin renovation is finally complete. And for those who’ve had an opportunity to play the track since the grand opening of its newest nine holes on July 1, the overhaul seems to have been worth the wait.
The first phase of the transition from Spartan Meadows to the Highlands of Elgin debuted in 2003, treating locals to a refreshing change from what had been a serviceable, though completely ordinary, 18-hole city golf course. The Highlands of Elgin opened with a unique combination of past and present with a brand new front nine while continuing to use Spartan Meadows’ old back nine.
It would be a disservice to several generations of Kane County golfers to fail to acknowledge Spartan Meadows’ 30-plus years of service to the community. Sentiment aside, however, the new holes proved far superior to the old ones. And now that the new 18-hole layout is finished, most will find it easier to put the past behind them.
A new era
As evidenced by the padlocked metal gate blocking the tunnel under Mclean Blvd. that once connected the old course’s front nine to its back nine, the last remnants of old Spartan Meadows have been locked away. And even for those who’ve played the Spartan/Highlands hybrid over the past several years, the new layout offers an (almost) entirely new experience.
The reconfigured back nine features two new holes, while the front nine has the remaining seven. After revisiting the familiar first hole and a partially new par 5 on the second hole (which used to be a temporary par 3), the remaining front nine is uncharted territory.
Respected golf course architect Art Schaupeter designed the latest nine holes, and it’s clear that he must have spent a good deal of time and effort in developing the layout and flow of this course. (Schaupeter previously worked under the tutelage of Keith Foster, who designed the Highlands’ original nine holes but was unavailable when the opportunity to build the final nine holes arose.)
The finished project is truly special. The hole selection takes you through the obvious mix of par 3’s, 4’s and 5’s, but each has its distinct character and challenges. This may be a case of new golf course architecture gone right or simply the product of a radical change from a formerly basic track, but the Highlands of Elgin offers an enjoyable combination of long and short-but-challenging par 4’s.
Playing from the tips (or close enough), par-4 yardage ranges from as long as 440 to as little as 310. The par 3’s range from 140 yards (9-iron distance) to 254 yards (a 3-wood will get you there). The par 5’s each had their own challenges, but none were overdone, leaving you with a feeling that the right drive might allow you to reach any one of them in two strokes (it’s okay to dream). Once you get a feel for where to hit the ball, you’ll be eager to get back out to play the course again.
Outstanding architecture aside, there’s no question that the Highlands of Elgin is a new course. There are a number of areas where the grass has not yet taken, and there are also a few thin spots on the fairway (though the vast majority of fairway lies are clean).
In July, the greens had just been top-dressed with sand – which can make the flag pulling and replacing a bit difficult – but not to the point that it slows them down. The greens are fast and, other than figuring out how to mow those undulating greens and buried elephants (okay, Pygmy elephants), their quality is impressive. How the ball rolled and the varying sizes of the greens correspond well with the lengths of the holes. Elevation changes and some fairway carries over ravines are added surprises that make this course worth checking out for even the most devout Spartan Meadows purists. This is not the same old course.
For Elgin residents, the weekday rate for 18 holes is $26 ($35 weekends). For non-residents, the weekday rate for 18 holes is $36 ($43 weekends). GPS-enabled carts are available for $19. Discount rates are available for seniors and juniors, as well as for twilight and mid-day rounds. To reserve a tee time, visit www.highlandsofelgin.com or call (847) 931-5950.
How to get there
The Highlands of Elgin is located at 875 Sports Way near the intersection of Mclean Blvd., approximately one-half mile south of U.S. 20 and approximately one mile east of Randall Road. CG