Bowes Creek Country Club Overview
In 2009, after Bowes Creek opened, award-winning golf course architect Rick Jacobson told the Daily Herald that “Eleven years ago, when I first stepped on this property, I noticed the combination of flat terrain, rolling hills, prairie and wetlands. I wanted to incorporate it all. Bowes Creek is the style of golf course the land dictates -- natural rather than a pure manufactured look.” The result is spectacular and a huge feather in the cap for the city of Elgin, which owns the club. Bowes is one of those public courses that feels private in many ways. The American Society of Golf Course Architects awarded Bowes Creek a Design Excellence Award in 2013. The natural beauty of the land combined with challenging, yet thoughtfully designed holes culminates in a thoroughly fulfilling golf experience. It’s not cheap to play here, but the course has good value. And in fact there’s a “member for the day” rate that lets you play unlimited golf.
Due to the ample amount of real estate here, most of the holes at Bowes feel like single, solitary challenges to solve, completely independent of one another. That’s a nice touch for a city golfer used to tons of parallel fairways. Incidentally, the 2nd and 6th hole fairways are connected to each other, but that’s by design. The venue travels 6,794 yards throughout its par 71 layout. There’s only three par 5’s. It’s a challenging affair, with a course rating of 73.4 and slope of 142 from the back tees. The high slope is a clue that the track is tough on bogie golfers, so use the appropriate tee box. There’s five to choose from.
Among the aspects that make Bowes challenging is the healthy amount of water on the course. There’s 10 separate bodies of water to avoid. Tons of bunkers litter the property, many of them exceedingly deep. The greens are nuanced and tricky. Fun hills and elevation changes add complexity to shots. The toughest hole is the par-5 8th hole, a 591-yard sweeping dogleg left. Two ponds on the starboard side spell doom for righty slicers. The green is protected by four bunkers. Aim carefully.
The club’s practice facilities are top notch. The driving range is wide and has both grass tees and mats. There’s a long putting green next to the first tee, but also a separate green for chip shots. That one also has a bunker to dial in your sand game. The clubhouse is pretty big and doesn’t look like much from the front. But inside is the well-appointed pro shop that has a ton of merch, along with Johnny’s Supper Club, a retro Italian eatery. The back of the clubhouse has an attractive patio area, and a nice lawn that was setup with games for kids when I was there. The halfway house is also back there, which has all the golf course staples you need.