Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Golf in Illinois - The Rail

In part 2 of my Golf in Illinois series, I will highlight Springfield's crown jewel, The Rail Golf Course. After playing this Robert Trent Jones Jr. gem, I cannot understand why the LPGA Tour moved the State Farm Classic from this course after 30 years as its gracious host. The Rail exemplifies Central Illinois like no other course. Not long ago the land this course sits on was a sprawling dairy farm. The cow pies deposited by those big, beautiful Holsteins laid the foundation for the best greens I have played in the state. Large greens, often guarded by massive bunkers, typify The Rail, and they are as true and smooth as any you will come across. The saying around the state capital goes "There's no jail at The Rail." This adage may have multiple meanings. However, I will leave the political translation, and partially disagree with the sporting one. Most of the trees on the course are mature and strategically positioned, but the number of trees is much smaller in comparison to places like Aldeen or Lick Creek. Many holes have large areas of benign rough with few obstructions to the green that high-handicappers, such as myself, appreciate. The Rail boasts 85 bunkers, and as previously stated, most come into play due to their size. Water is not absent here, either. Even though they only have five water hazards, each one is dangerous. The signature par-5 8th hole has water bordering the fairway all along the right side. You are then forced to cross the same lake to reach the green on the opposite side. My favorite stretch of holes from 15-17 also feature water hazards. The Rail's 15th hole is a short par-5, reachable in two. The danger lies in the water to the left of the green. The 16th is a 170 yard par-3 with the same lake from 15 separating the tee box from the green. The 17th hole is a short par-4 that doglegs left around another large pond. The tee shot is fun when deciding how much of the hole to bite off. Super long hitters may even try driving the green over water the whole way if a record score isn't on the line. And while playing 17, wave to my aunt and uncle who live just off the beginning of the fairway. The Rail is certainly affordable for such excellent quality. After 4PM on weekdays, the green fee is only $21.

No comments:

Post a Comment

[Valid Atom 1.0]