Tam O'Shanter Golf Course Overview
For a local 9 hole muni, Tam Golf Course has quite the history. Originally an 18 hole course, it opened in 1925 as a country club. Tam hosted the first nationally televised golf tournament in 1953, won by Lew Worsham with an eagle on the final hole. It also hosted huge tournaments where legends like Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Patty Berg, and Babe Zaharias all competed.
Today, Tam is a neighborhood favorite -- both for the fun and unassuming 9 hole layout, and for its sports-bar style restaurant the Howard Street Inn. The course has been owned by the village of Niles since 1973. At 2,440 yards, the course is accomodating and approachable for folks starting their golf journey. The north branch of the Chicago River runs directly through the property, but surprisingly water only comes into play on 2 holes, both of them par 3's. However, the river impacts the course in another, far more sinister way. Flooding has always been a problem at Tam O'Shanter due to the flood plain the course was built on. Major renovations were done in 2018 to alleviate the problem, and while the course still does flood after a major storm, the water recedes much more quickly now and the course can bounce back.
There's not much of a practice area at Tam. There's a small practice green next to the parking lot. There's also a couple of hitting nets right in the parking lot. But to be honest, the whole course is basically a practice area. This place offers a relaxed golf experience. When my son was growing up, we'd come to Tam on Sunday afternoons, where they would setup special kids tee boxes and had discounted family rates. It was a nice touch.
The pro shop here is really tiny, maybe the smallest I've seen in the entire Chicagoland area. They have golf balls and tees, but don't come here expecting to load up on gear.
The restaurant here is probably just as much of an attraction as the course itself. The Howard Street Inn is a sports bar with a great covered outdoor seating area that overlooks the golf course. Tons of TVs have all the games you want to watch. There's a full menu and the food is solid. I can vouch for it as I've been eating here for years. There's a gambling area for slot machines and such in the corner.