Odyssey Golf Foundation Overview
The Odyssey is unlike any other course in the Chicagoland area, and maybe the country. Since 2013, the golf course has been owned by the Odyssey Golf Foundation, a non-profit charity dedicated to assisting veterans. At the time, club owner Aristotle Halikias said it was the nation's only 501(c)(3)-designated golf course. According to the website, the foundation “understands the unique needs of veterans and helps them to experience the powerful benefits the game of golf can provide - thereby improving quality of life.” The veteran ethos can be felt throughout the property. For example, reveille is played at 7AM, and taps is performed at 1PM everyday, according to a sign in the pro shop. Other military memorabilia is on display in the pro shop and throughout the property, including reminders that “Freedom isn’t free.” The course holds frequent golf outings for veterans, and offers them steep discounts to play.
The course opened for a short preview in 1991, and had its grand opening in 1992. In 1989, during construction, course architect Harry Bowers said to the Southtown Star “I think it will add something that northern Illinois hasn’t seen before. A wetland that, at any given time of year, has brilliant color to it.” Bowers was a protege of Robert Trent Jones Sr. Curtis Strange also consulted on the design of the course. The property was mostly corn fields before the track was built. Owner Halikias said in 1991 “There were no wetlands when the Odyssey Golf Club was built. The wetlands were built into it,” adding that it was “an expensive project.” And the result is thoroughly impressive, imbuing a texture to the course that feels wholly different from its surroundings. Water is present on over half the holes at Odyssey.
There’s enough real estate at Odyssey such that each hole feels like its own entity, its own solitary challenge to be solved. The venue measures 6,956 yards from the back tees, with a par of 72. The course rating is 73.4, and slope is 135, putting it in the same company as Steeple Chase, Prairie Bluff, and Lost Marsh. The longest hole on the course is number 8, a 586 yard monster of a par-5, with a tee shot over water and numerous fairway bunkers, along with a narrow green target. There are clusters of homes surrounding the course, part of the Odyssey Club Homes community.
The clubhouse here is one of the largest and most stately in all of Chicagoland. The vaguely Greek-inspired structure towers over the landscape. It houses a large event space, offices for the foundation, a restaurant, and the pro shop. The large pro shop stocks a ton of merch, plus some interesting military memorabilia, and profits go to the foundation. There’s a practice putting green at the course, plus a bunker. Odyssey has a driving range, but it’s part of a separate facility west of the course called Odyssey SweetSpot Sports Bar & Driving Range. There you’ll find a range with both grass tees & mats, plus another practice green, and other games & activities.