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An Affordable, Public Golden Age Design - Ravisloe Country Club

By: Mason Savage, A Good Walk Spoiled Contributor

Early in 2023, A Good Walk Spoiled released "The Completely Unbiased 100% Scientific Golf Course Ranking System." The point of the system is to create a ranking system that was geared to the Everyday Golf. If you missed that post, please check it out in the link below so that you can understand how these rankings work and what each category represents in the system.

After releasing this ranking system, we used it to rank public courses in Minnesota. The ranking culminated into a 10 Part Series where we wrote articles about the Top 10 Public Courses in the State of Minnesota. The list was controversial, created good discussion about what makes a good golfing experience and it was a fun exercise to look critically at Golf Courses. Check out the first course in the series Here and head over to the blog Tab on our website to see all of the articles. What do you think our Number 1 Course is?

Now, in the monthly A Good Walk Spoiled Newsletter, we use this same ranking system to review courses from all across the world in our Course of the Month Segment. However, the month following the Newsletter, we are going to be uploading the news letter segment on the Website (obviously, you are reading it now, aren't you?). Avoid missing out on getting the rankings earlier, other stories in golf and monthly deals by subscribing to the AGWS Newsletter Here. It is only monthly, so do not worry, we will not spam your inbox.

Ravisloe Country Club - Homewood, IL

Despite the words “Country Club” being in the name, Ravisloe is a public golf course but this was not always the case. This historic Golf Course was Private up until 2009 when it was purchased by Claude Gendreau, an acclaimed veterinary surgeon. Since then, this classic golf course is available to the general public at a great and fair rate. Oh and did we mention that this course was designed by the famous Golden Age Architect Donald Ross? Let's dive into the review.

Culture - 8

The culture at Ravisloe Country Club is a weird blend of cultures. To have a good culture score, a course needs to successfully marry being welcoming and open to the public and yet have that elite golf experience feel. As we have covered in some of our previous posts, this is extremely tough to do but Ravisloe Country Club does a great job of fulfilling this dichotomy.

Right off of the bat, the experience of driving into the course creates that exceptional golfing experience feeling. Because this course was once private the entrance is pretty grand. Once you enter the historical gate from the road you will notice you are immediately thrown into the course as you and your car are actually in the line of fire of the 10th Tee Box. Ahead, the beautiful clubhouse towers over you creating this luxurious feel right away. Add to that picture-esq flower beds and a beautiful courtyard and you immediately are hit with the large golf experience vibe. It is at this point that one can assume that there is no way that one could feel welcomed on this property with the clubhouse and beautiful scenery on the drive in. However that is not that case at Ravisloe Country Club. You will find the culture and staff make you feel welcome as you would at any public golf course. The starter is always warm and the great spacing on tee times makes it so you do not feel rushed while playing your round.

Place - 8

The sense of place at Ravisloe Country Club is special. While nestled in the heart of Homewood Illinois and right next to the rail that comes out of downtown Chicago, this course feels secluded and absolutely removed from the urban hustle and bustle. It creates this sense of “unplugging” and removing yourself from the busyness of everyday life. In addition to this feeling, the history and accolades of Ravisloe feel alive and well. It just feels like you are playing an important golf course.

One of the reasons the history feels alive and well is the original clubhouse that still stands on the property. This old Spanish Style Clubhouse is beautiful and offers you a portal to back in time. In addition, the course feels historic and important as well. Without diving too deep into the architecture in this portion of the review, there are lots of characteristics of Golden Age courses on display. These things include short walks from greens to tee boxes, unique bunkering and a charming layout. All of these characteristics lead to a great sense of place.

The 8th Hole at Ravisloe Country Club

Quality - 8

The Quality at Ravisloe Country Club is up there with what you would think of a country club. The conditions are clean and the most important thing is consistent, smooth greens which Ravisloe has. As is to be expected with public places that have tons of rounds, there are rough spots out there. In addition, the abundance of shade creates some tough areas for turf to flourish. It is for these reasons that keep Ravisloe from achieving a higher score.

Price - 7

For those that are new to the course reviews, this score is just a statistical analysis. There is no opinion. We look at the price to walk 18 holes on the weekend and depending where it falls on a scale, a number is designated. This is exceptional given that

Architecture - 10

Anyone that is new to these course reviews knows that I love writing about the architecture of the golf courses the most. These sections I often need to restrict myself or place some constraints to keep me from rambling and going into too much detail. This course in particular is going to be particularly difficult because this course was designed by the famous Golden Age architect Donald Ross. Donald Ross is one of the most famous golf course architects responsible for over 400 designs including courses such as Essex CC, Seminole, East Lake and the world famous Pinehurst Number 2.

The beauty of Donald Ross is that a lot of his courses are very minimal. The routing and the fairways naturally lay over the natural terrain and the green complexes are detailed and impact the entirety of the hole. This is not a rule for all of Donald Ross’ courses but a common thread for his designs is that they are easier off of the tee and they get more difficult the closer you get to the green. The result is golf holes that are really playable even for the worst of golfers and they are very difficult to score on for the best of golfers. To put it another way; Easy bogeys, difficult birdies.

One hole that offers easy bogeys and difficult birdies is the Par 4 5th Hole, an awesome short 4 that doglegs to the right, takes advantage of some great angles, and possesses an outstanding green complex. Right away you are faced with these strategically placed bunkers. You can lay up to the left of them but you are left with a semi-blind and long shot into the difficult green. A risky shot that you can attempt is to then try and hit a left to right shot around the corner and over the bunkers. While this shot does present great risk, the reward is a wide open angle to the green with a wedge in your hand. The green itself presents a challenge as there are shelves that allow for strategic pin positions meaning you need to be disciplined in your shot selection depending on where the pin is located.

Finally a couple specific features and ideas that I want to fly through, lightning round style (to keep this section shorter and from going out of control).

  • Typical Donald Ross courses allow for easy tee shots. However, due to the overgrowth of trees on the property, there are some tight corridors that are not often associated with Donald Ross courses.

  • The green on the 9th hole might be one of the most severe greens I have ever putted on and it is sick!

  • As was mentioned earlier, the tee shot on 10, you hit it over the road to pull into the course and this is also sick!

  • The collection of Par 3s at Ravisloe is fantastic. Great variety, challenging and yet fair.

  • The faux bunker on 8 is great. Old School architecture trick is have a bunker mess with the horizon line and ultimately your sense of depth perception. It makes 8 look way shorter but it is a trick that Donald Ross is playing on your eyes from the fairway.

If you want more information regarding Ravisloe Country Club, please check out our YouTube video about this awesome historic Donald Ross design.

Value - 10

The value of Ravisloe Country Club is some of the best value in golf. Often, Donald Ross designs are private golf courses so they are difficult for people who are not members to play them. For this reason alone, the Value of just being able to play Ravisloe Country Club is through the roof. However, add to that a wildly affordable greens fee and we have what we think is one of the best values that Public Golf has to offer! - Perfect 10/10. No notes.

Overall - 52

Overall, Ravisloe Country Club is a fantastic golf course! It is not everyday that the general public gets to play a Donald Ross golf course that for the most part is in its original design. While there are minor improvements that could be implemented out there that could drastically improve the golf course and experience out there, the current iteration of the property is still absolutely worth playing! A fair, yet stern challenge for even the best of golfers, an affordable green fee with a world class design and all just a short drive away from one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. This place is a great course for anyone to check out!


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