It takes bold thinking to debut an upscale new golf course and housing development in this economic climate—even if it is a splendid Jack Nicklaus layout. That’s especially true if the course is in the Midwestern heartland, a healthy plane ride from year-round golfing weather.
But Fyre Lake National Golf Club, in northwestern Illinois just south of the Quad Cities, is bucking the trend. And that’s great news for residents of this surprisingly well-endowed golf area, not to mention golfers who want to enjoy some great courses at great prices in an area most people wouldn’t think of as a golf destination.
Fyre Lake, which is scheduled to open in mid-July, goes 6,435 yards from the back tees, and 5,831 yards from the blues, with white (5,398 yards) and red (4,419) tees also available.
But this par-70 layout is a serious challenge, with black tees carrying a 130 slope and 72.1 rating. The blues are set at 124, 68.9.
Fyre Lake features lightning fast, rolling greens set amid dramatic elevation changes, with abundant bunkering and dramatic carries over lakes and creeks. And the fairways are often surrounded by all manner of high grass.
“We describe it as mountainous links,’’ head professional Erin Strieck said. “The links part comes from not trees coming into play, but more native grass. And there are great elevation changes that are not always seen on links golf courses.’’
The lakes also are a big part of Fyre Lake’s challenging beauty. No. 3, a 418-yard dog-leg par-four, provides a majestic downhill vista from the tee. It requires a precise tee shot to a tight landing area that sets up a mid- to short-iron shot to a green that’s guarded by Fyre Lake on the left and sloping mounds on the right.
From the tee of No. 6, the 398-yard par-four is a water-free hole that looks down into a seeming valley of sand. There’s plenty of landing room, but a bolder tee shot over the left bunker will leave an easier approach to the uphill green.
“You have a lot of elevated tee shots, but the landing areas are extremely fair,’’ Strieck said. “With some of the carries across a couple of lakes and the placement of the fairway bunkers, you don’t always have to hit driver off the tee.’’
On No. 13, a well-placed tee shot down the left side will kick into the center of the fairway, leaving a mid- to short-iron approach to an island green. Big hitters will be tempted to see how close they can get to the 385-yard 14th green (312 from the blues). And No. 16 is a devilish uphill par-three over an ocean of sand.
The finishing hole is a rugged 418-yard dogleg left around a lake. Carrying even the corner of the lake is no easy task, and a bunker that guards the right corner seemingly makes the bailout zone precarious.For all of its visual peril, Fyre Lake, about 30 minutes south of Moline, is an exceedingly fair test that rewards those who can keep their ball in play and like challenging greens. Set in the rolling hills surrounding Fyre Lake, it’s a beautiful way to spend the day. And the greens fees ($45 Monday through Friday, $55 on weekends) have been set to lure golfers into regular visits.
Combine Fyre Lake with the nearby TPC at John Deere, another affordable but memorable course that hosts the only annual PGA event in Illinois, and Quad Cities might even become a Midwestern golf destination.The Quad Cities—home to several notable private clubs, including the Davenport Country Club, site of the 1936 and 1951 Western Opens—has long deserved more notice as golf country. With the addition of Fyre Lake, there’s one more reason to think the profile of this metropolitan area on the Mississippi River will be rating more attention.
For more information, visit http://www.fyrelakenational.com