Golf Center Des Plaines Overview
Golf Center Des Plaines came to life in 1997 when Seiji Suzuki, the brainchild and architect of the facility, built the new-age driving range with an automated ball dispensal system. Back then, in the Chicago Tribune, he said “I didn’t want it to look like a driving range. I wanted the design to be new-generation, modern. I wanted to build something that has people wondering, ‘What the heck is this?’“ While it was popular, it wasn’t successful enough to offset the $7 million it cost to build, and it went into foreclosure. The Des Plaines Park District bought it for $5.95 million in September 2000.
The driving range is undoubtedly the focal point of the venue, but there is a fun 9-hole par-3 course here, which was built in the year 2000, along with a fee-based short game practice area. The course tops out at 1,074 yards, and the longest hole is ~200 yards over water. It’s great for kids learning the game (such as my son who played here a ton), families getting out together, or better golfers just wanting a quick tune-up. There’s water on holes 2 and 9, and some moderate elevation changes make the landscape interesting. The course has grass tees, unlike some par-3 courses. Every winter, Golf Center hosts the Chili Open on the frozen course, a popular 9-hole tournament with chili and prizes at the restaurant afterward.
The driving range is a massive structure with three tiers and 80 bays. You buy a stored-payment card at the front desk to activate the bay you use; balls cost different amounts depending on the time and day. TV screens in the facility show which bays are in-use on each floor so you can find an open one. In addition to the automated range, there’s a smaller grass tee area to the right of the facility, which has a more traditional ball dispensing machine. The northwest corner of the property has a dedicated short-game practice area, with multiple greens and bunkers. This costs under $10 to use for the entire day. Lastly, GOLFTEC has an outpost here and offers instruction on the ground floor. The facility is open 364 days year-round.
There’s a pro shop inside the clubhouse called Dream Golf, and they have a solid selection of equipment and merch. They’ve satisfactorily replaced my grips a few times. The Club Casa Cafe restaurant is a popular place on the weekends and has good bar food classics, and then some. Kids eat free on Sundays with an adult meal purchase. One last note: the Des Plaines River runs along the eastern and southern border of the property, and typically there’s no reason to care. However, the property has flooded at times over the years when there’s really heavy rain.