Butterfield Country Club

There are a lot of great clubs in the Chicago area that Bears legend and golf fanatic Mike Ditka could belong to. So where does he play most of his golf these days? Butterfield Country Club, 20 miles west of the Loop. When I visited the club recently, Ditka was there, too, making a nearly full day of it. Okay, so most of it was in the men’s grill playing cards. But it was unseasonably cool.

Weather permitting, Butterfield is a perfect place for Ditka and members like him who love squeezing in as much golf as they can in a day. The club offers three nines (Blue, White, and Red) of thought-provoking and visually stunning golf. The holes interact wonderfully with the rolling, tree-lined topography, especially after architect Steve Smyers updated the 1920 William Langford design five years ago. On the Blue’s 547-yard 7th, for instance, Smyers extended a ridgeline on the left side of the fairway up to the green, enhancing the strategic design of the dogleg-right: With the land sloping left-to-right, the hole now sets up beautifully for a cut 3-wood second shot.

In addition to reestablishing Langford’s original shot values by adding length and repositioning bunkers, Symers restored many of Langford’s geometrically shaped greens. He also removed a number of trees to improve sight lines and turf quality. “My favorite part of the redesign is that it gives a more open feeling throughout the whole course,” says Head Professional Alex Mendez. “You can see more of the golf course and really appreciate the views and terrain of the land.”

The improvements have elevated the club’s renowned Invitational, which has attracted players from all over the country each July for more than 60 years. Like Butterfield, Chicago’s rich golf legacy just keeps getting better.