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Best Swimming, Biking, Golfing, and More

OUTDOOR FITNESS GUIDE: Four sports that will make you break a sweat and have fun

(page 5 of 5)


Three-time PGA professional national champion Mike Small

Three-time PGA professional national champion and two-time low club pro at the PGA Championship; head golf coach at University of Illinois

After the collegiate season is over, Small spends at least an hour a day focused on putting and chipping. “I’ve competed in probably 75 PGA Tour events, so I know how to play, but I need to have my fundamentals solid,” says the golfer, who in June heads to the Professional National Championship at the Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses in California. To stay tour-ready, Small devotes two to three hours a week to cardio, stretching, and core strengthening. For cardio, Small opts for the stair stepper, which he says is easier on his lower back than running. His core workouts consist largely of crunches, reverse crunches, planks, side planks, and back hyperextensions. “I also use resistance bands to work the upper back,” Small says. “That’s where the posture happens. Golf is a rotary sport, so your back needs to be able to handle the load.”


1. FOR NORTH SIDERS On the former site of the Glenview Naval Air Station, The Glen Club is the best public course in the area for players of all skill levels. Pat Goss, the men’s golf coach at Northwestern University, says he recommends it because “it’s a public experience with the private feel”—down to the courteous staff and the architecture of the 7,149-yard par-72 course. (Public) 2901 W. Lake Ave., Glenview; 847-724-7272, theglenclub.com. $105 to $185 for 18 holes

2. FOR SOUTH SIDERS The 36-hole Harborside International Golf Center has modest origins: It was built on a 250-acre trash dump. But the par-72 course offers great views of the city, is less than 20 minutes from the Loop, and has discounted greens fees of $57 (for 18 holes) if you tee off after 3:30 on a weekday. (Public) 11001 S. Doty Ave. East; 312-782-7837, harborsideinternational.com. $57 to $95 for 18 holes

3. FOR THOSE WHO NEED PRACTICE Cog Hill in south suburban Lemont boasts Dubsdread—a challenging 7,554-yard par-71 course that’s a regular stop on the PGA Tour—and a stellar practice facility and learning center, which operates the No Embarrassment Golf School. Golfers who need to pay attention to their short game will appreciate that the 8,000-square-foot putting green is open 364 days a year. (Public) 12294 Archer Ave., Lemont; 866-264-4455, coghillgolf.com. $155 (Dubsdread) for 18 holes

4. FOR GOLFERS DYING TO PLAY A MAJOR Whenever Small drives up I-57 from Champaign to Chicago, he stops at the Olympia Fields Country Club to play a round. “We host the Fighting Illini Invitational there, and they hosted the U.S. Open in 2003,” Small says. Of the club’s two 18-hole options, go for the 7,205-yard par-70 North Course: Last year, it ranked 60th on Golf Digest’s list of the 100 greatest courses in America. “I love it because it’s not monotonous,” Small says. “No hole is like another.” The club is invite-only, but golfers in the know say it often hosts charity events; donate to a good cause and boom!—it’s tee time. (Private) 2800 Country Club Dr., Olympia Fields; 708-748-0495, ofcc.info EXPERT PICK

5. FOR LUKE DONALD FANS Chicago’s own Donald—at presstime, the No. 1–ranked golfer in the world—is most closely affiliated with Conway Farms, a 7,216-yard par-71 course that will host the 2013 BMW Championship. Goss, who is Donald’s swing coach, says it’s a favorite because of its “wonderful practice area and driving range—and it is hard enough to host a PGA event and challenge the players.” Membership is by invitation only—but you can buddy up to a member and go as a guest. (Private) 425 S. Conway Farms Dr., Lake Forest; 847-234-6979, conwayfarmsgolfclub.org

6. FOR COURSE DESIGN SNOBS Founded in 1894, the 6,846-yard par-70 Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton is the oldest 18-hole course in North America and was one of five founding clubs of the United States Golf Association. It’s also one of the toughest in the country to get onto and play. Golfers say there’s no real secret to nabbing an invitation, but club membership is small, so you really have to work your connections. (Private) 25W253 Warrenville Rd., Wheaton; 630-665-2988


Novices tend to spend too much time on the range and not enough on their short game, Small says. His advice: “Learn the game from the hole backward.”

How to putt more accurately: Panel 1

(1) Place your thumbs on top of the shaft, with your hands facing each other.

(2) Focus on your stance, making sure your putter face is square to the hole and your shoulders are lined up to the target line. Explains Small: “Shoulder alignment will dictate the path of the putt. If your shoulders are open, they will work independently of the putter, and you’ll likely put spin on the ball.”


Photograph: Brian Kuhlmann; Assistants: Colin Beckett, John Ruzich Stylist: Nicole Cap/Ford Artists; Location: Harborside International Golf Center; Illustrations: John Kenzie

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