Cog Hill Golf: Dubsdread is One of the Best Public Courses in America
When I started Breaking Eighty way back in 2012, I had an idea that I wanted to play the Top 100 public golf courses in America.
That goal has since evolved, but I still recall the very first course I played when I made that goal: Cog Hill #4 – also known as Dubsdread.
The Cog Hill golf facility is one of the best public facilities in the Chicago area, and their residents are very lucky to have such variety there.
Despite it being nearly a decade later since that first round, Cog Hill #4 has continued to remain in both Golf Magazine and Golf Digests top 100 courses list – and for good reason.
It isn’t a golf course for the faint of heart, but if you’re looking for a real challenge with some legitimate PGA tournament pedigree – look no further.
This post recounts my experience playing Cog Hill for the first time.
Cog Hill Golf: Just the Facts
- Designer: Dick Wilson (with renovation done by Rees Jones)
- Built-in: 1964
- Rank: #92 (Golf Magazine Top 100 You Can Play 2022), #56 (Golf Digest Top 100 Public)
- Location: Lemont, Illinois (outside Chicago)
- Fees: Flexible with peak rates around $159.
- Website: https://www.coghillgolf.com/
- Slope: 142, Rating: 75.4
- Originally Played: May 2013
First Impressions of Cog Hill Golf
Pulling up to Cog Hill I really wasn’t sure what to expect. The Cog Hill Golf Facility is a massive complex with 4 different courses – Course #4 being the crown jewel of them all.
A bucket of balls is included in the green fee (which was $155 at the time), and after a few wrong turns I finally made it down to the practice area to get warmed up.
Worth noting that recently Cog Hill has announced a dynamic pricing structure, where the course is more to play during peak times, and less during off times.
Back when I played it was $155 no matter what. Right now, granted it’s in the shoulder seasons there are tee times for around $100 – which is a great deal for a course of this caliber.
It wasn’t anything spectacular, but they had a good-sized range with plenty of targets to hit to.
I was fully expecting the course to be packed seeing as how it was about as nice of a late Spring as you could get, and well, it’s Cog Hill, how can there not be a ton of people interested in playing?
There was no one on the course.
Every time I mentioned to someone there I was playing Dubs, I got a look that pretty much just went “Niiiiiiice,” making me feel like I was much cooler than I really am.
That said, I wasn’t joking when I said no one was on the course. I had the entire front 9 to myself, hardly saw another person. No one in front or behind me, and I could take as much time as I wanted on every hole.
For this reason alone, it was one of the most spectacular golf experiences of my life.
To be able to come to a world-class course, in prime condition and not see another soul? Priceless.
That said, Dubsdread is essentially the golf equivalent of someone who is into S&M. The entire round is a combination of pleasure and pain, that will leave you battered, bruised, and with a giant smile on your face in the end.
When Joe Jemsek envisioned a brutal championship golf course back in the mid-sixties, he really went after it. This hasn’t changed, and while I didn’t play the course before the 2008 Rees Jones overhaul, I’ve been told it’s just gotten tougher.
But you know what, that’s exactly how it should be. When you play Dubsdread, you know exactly what you’re in for. Is it a course you’re going to play multiple times a week, no (at least not for most people), but the occasional true test of golf in a beautiful setting is something every real golfer loves – and Cog Hill #4 comes through in a big way.
Cog Hill Golf #4: Hole by Hole
Playing Dubsdread or “Dubs” as everyone around there calls it, is an emotional rollercoaster ride. It gives you a chance to make great shots and feel like Tiger, and then more often than not it slams you back down and leaves you with a poor score no matter how good your drive was.
That said I thought you might appreciate my hole-by-hole recap filled with very high highs, low lows, and a lot of time sunning on the beach.
Also worth noting, one lesson I’ve learned in my decade of golf blogging is that for the most part? No one cares what you shot.
No one cares what you did on a certain hole – unless there’s actually an interesting story behind it.
So some of my earlier course recaps, well there’s a lot of me in them. I didn’t feel like doing that much of an overhaul to this post, so you’re stuck with some of that. In any case, enjoy!
Hole 1 (Par 4, 458 Yards)
Great drive down the left side. Missed the approach and learned how long the rough really is. Long. Then found out how deep the bunkers really are. Deep.
Hole 2 (Par 3, 234 yards)
This whole was closed when I was there, which was a little weird. They’d just punched the greens the week before, so I went up hit a ball and assumed I would have taken a bogey 🙂
Hole 3 (Par 4, 443 yards)
Holy crap rough is still thick. Drove it down near the bridge on the right. There is NO one out here. Chipped through the trees after going off the back of the green.
Hole 4 (Par 4, 462 yards)
It was on 4 you start to see some of the Tillinghast influence in the design with the trench bunkers. Looking down the fairway from the tee? Bunker city. Looking back from the green? Not a grain of sand in sight. Beautiful view, one of the most intimidating straight-shot par 4s I’ve seen
Hole 5 (Par 4/5, 507 yards)
The course is really starting to get interesting. Spent 10 minutes looking for my ball in the rough. Found it, finally. Great three wood for a short approach. Finished with par. Chipped on, barely missed birdie.
Woohoo! A Par!
Hole 6 (Par 3, 240 yards)
Wow, this is a long par 3. On the green, yeah! Three putt. Whomp, whomp.
Hole 7 (Par 4, 431 yards)
I’m really digging this course, even as it’s digging its claws into me. Whew, that was close with the water. Barely missed the sand. Long putt for bogey.
Hole 8 (Par 4, 379 yards)
Ooooh, this is interesting. Damn it, how did I slice my three iron. This should have been an easy one. Yet, there’s another double. Seriously, where is all this sand coming from!?
Hole 9 (Par 5, 613 yards)
Tight trees, long as hell.
This has to be the #1 handicap hole on the course.
Yep, sure is!
There’s no way I’m going to find my ball in these trees. Oh, there it is. At least, oh wait, no, it’s in super deep rough. Punch it out, whelp, that didnt work. Again? Much better. At least I had a decent approach. Still finished with a double.
Hole 10 (Par 4, 383 yards)
Maybe this one will be a little bit easier. Wait, how did my drive end up in the 9th fairway? Oh, still have a shot! Wooohoo! Over the green. Wait, there’s a bunker back there?? Phew, missed it. Hit the pin on the chip, putt in for bogey.
Hole 11 (Par 5, 607 yards)
This looks like a fun hole. Oh, well it was until I hit it in the sand. Second shot went much further than expected, however. Easy chip on. Birdie putt? Just missed. I’ll take the par.
Hole 12 (Par 3, 216 yards)
DAMN these par 3s are long.
And we’re high up. “Hmmm, Cog Hill. Got it”
It’s ok, I’m feeling good. Uh oh, that might have gone too far…SHORT?! I’m spending more time on the beach than Hasslehof. This bunker is like twice the size of me.
Hole 13 (Par 4, 480 yards)
My slice isn’t doing me any favors today. Neither is that giant ravine I just hit it in.
WHERE did that come from?
Wow that green is way up there. This is a beautiful hole, even if it did result in a triple bogey…that’s embarrassing.
Hole 14 (Par 3, 215 yards)
I can only imagine what this thing looks like during a tournament. What a cool amphitheater-style green. Throws off some Jim Engh vibes, with a bowl you might find at Black Rock.
This would be an awesome place to watch a pro tournament.
These bunkers are surreal. Might as well go hang out in one. Make that two. Nice putt to save bogey.
Hole 15 (Par 5, 523 yards)
Best drive of the day through the pinhole between the trees. Should I go for it in two? Well my score can’t get much worse…oh wait, yep, just did.
Once again more bunkers surrounding the green – should have made that assumption…
Hole 16 (Par 4, 456 yards)
This hole is cool. Huge dogleg left from an elevated tee. Aaaand I think I cut the corner too much on that one.
Round 2? Middle of the fairway.
*drives cart up*.
This might be the scariest green on the entire course. Trouble all around with steep drop-offs and sand. Which, predictably is where I am. Nice. Quadruple bogeys are not fun.
Hole 17 (Par 4, 423 yards)
Straight forward, however with sand right where I want to hit it.
Solid drive with “easy” approach. Oh hey, I hit a green! Missed the long birdie putt, but an easy tap-in for par. Why couldn’t all the holes go that way?
Hole 18 (Par 4, 494 yards)
Cool finishing hole with water and the clubhouse in view. Sand. There’s no way I’m going to clear all of this onto the green, gonna have to lay up. Easy approach, but didnt quite get the distance I wanted. Helloooooo 3 putt.
The final result? I shot a 97, about 7-10 shots over my average. I could make excuses, but bottom line, it’s an incredibly difficult course, but a ton of fun to play.
Favorite Holes at Cog Hill #4
Par 3: 215 yard 14, hands down (184 from the blues).
This hole just had a bit of a different feel to it. It was sandwiched between two incredible holes each with ravines to carry, and standing in the middle of the green is absolutely surreal.
There are 360 degrees of deep bunkers, and then the natural amphitheater makes for another cool feature that I’d imagine is pretty impressive during tournament time.
The old barn near the tee is also a unique feature as well that adds to the atmosphere.
Par 4: 379 yard, 8th hole (341 from the blues).
A welcome reprise from the many long par 4s on this course, this one was totally manageable, but still required some precision and strategy to give yourself a good shot at birdie or par.
Another one that is covered in sand looking at it down the hole, with none to be seen coming back.
Par 5: 523 yard, 15th hole (482 from the blues).
I love holes that make me want to go for it. These were pretty few and far between on Dubsdread, but considering I had a decent drive and I busted out the three wood to try and make a miracle happen, this hole accomplished it.
The ravine you have to hit over on your drive is also pretty unique and an interesting feature (13 has a similar feature).
Most Unique Course Characteristic:
The accuracy that’s required to score well.
Many courses give you some outs – not so much here. Right, left, short, long – it doesn’t matter. If you fall into any of those categories you’re going to have your work cut out for you if you want to make par.
Perfect for: Figuring out who is really the top dog out of your golfing friends
Final Thoughts on Cog Hill Dubsdread
To this day, I’ve only played two rounds of golf in Chicago: Cog Hill and Medinah #3
They just so happen to be two of the most difficult courses I’ve ever played. But Cog Hill might have taken the cake.
I can think of only a handful of courses that I’ve found to be more challenging than this. Bethpage Black and Winged Foot West come to mind.
Despite this, I loved every second of it. Despite having now played hundreds more golf courses across the world, I still look back on this round fondly, and look forward to making it back sometime soon!