Sunset Valley Golf Club Overview
Extensively renovated in 2018 for $7 million, Sunset Valley is a beautiful course that's exquisitely maintained. The Heathland-style design provides a stern test and has a rich history dating back to 1921, when it was just 9 holes. Famed Scottish golf instructor Stewart Gardner of Exmoor Club designed the track. It has always been a muni and was originally named the Park District Golf Club. The April 23, 1922 Chicago Tribune quoted course management saying “it will be one of the finest municipal courses in the country” and “there is no doubt the course will be crowded from the start.” It was rebranded to Sunset Valley in 1925, when the full 18 hole course debuted. The property gained prominence in the 1920’s and held the prestigious North Shore Open from 1928 to 1938, where golf legends like Walter Hagen, Al Espinosa, Chick Evans, Tommy Armour, and Jock Hutchinson played.
All of the 6,726 yards here are well manicured, including the fast greens. The place doesn’t really feel like a muni. And the square tee boxes are an elegant touch. The course is challenging but fair, with a course rating of 72.2 and slope of 134. The Skokie River runs through the heart of the course and presents some challenges, along with four other ponds to avoid. Terrain-wise, the landscape is mostly flat. The toughest hole on the course is the 586-yard 7th hole, but my nemesis is the par-3 4th hole. It’s only 160 yards, but entirely over water, and for some reason my golf balls have established a permanent residence in the thick back rough. It is for that reason I think I should be allowed to pay the Highland Park resident rate.
Sunset Valley has no driving range, but it has some nets to hit into. On the upside, it has a great short game practice area, called the Youth Golf Development Center. It consists of a target green with two bunkers and lots of space to hit pitch shots. There’s also a large practice putting green, which happens to be a double green, shared with the 18th hole. The pro shop here is small, with only a modest amount of merch. The restaurant is called 13ninety and offers classic American fare.