Twin Sons of Different Mothers! It’s been a long, long time. 54 years to be exact. Back in the day during the first week of classes, Aurora College would bus all the students to Pottawatomie Park for a day of fun and games. In the Fall of 1968, I was a shy 17 year old freshman far away from home for the first time – a stranger in a strange land! My playing partner today was a sophomore and a three sport star back in 1968. During the next few years we would be teammates on both the soccer field and baseball diamond. Today a pair of old men in our 70’s would try to recapture a part of our youth without hurting ourselves as we walk the fairways at Pottawatomie Golf Course in St. Charles, IL.
When was the last time you didn’t pull a driver on your opening shot of a round? Choosing a driver at Hole #1 will probably only cause trouble. A big dogleg to the right with out-of-bounds hugging the entire right side, so any shots that try to clear the large trees at the turn, could result in serious trouble. I took the starters advice and hit a hybrid. Even with that club, I found one of the many bunkers at the end of the fairway. His advice was to pick a club that places you just short of the bunkers and keep hitting that club until you reach the green. Solid advice as I made an opening par.
All you have to do at Hole #2 is hit it straight down the middle. I did, but it was the only time all day. Now it’s time to get up close and personal with the Fox River – but not too personal! Hole #3 is another risk/reward hole. Some of the unique features at this 330 yard (white) hole: short fairway; dogleg left; over water; island green – keep the driver in your bag! For me today my approach was a thinned shot that found the river. I wasn’t happy but it was only one of the few bad iron shots I hit all day – just bad timing.
Hole #4 is a par 3 of 122 yards with the Fox River eagerly awaiting any hooked shots to the left and a large bunker to the front right of the green. The safest shot is to take enough club to carry the bunker because you don’t want to flirt with the left side. You can understand why Hole #5 is the number two handicap hole. There is out-of-bounds to the left; tree issues to the right; and there are bunkers everywhere around the green. The key to posting a good score on this hole is to pick the club that will best find this generous fairway. If you are a straight driver of the ball, the sixth hole is an excellent chance to go low. There is a large bunker to the left of the green, but two well executed shots will give you an excellent birdie opportunity. However you can kiss that opportunity goodbye if you are wild left or right off the tee.
It’s up and over the green-scummed pond to the par 3 seventh hole. I’d like to say the pond was a beautiful deep blue but a picture is worth a thousand words. It can be a difficult hole because of the bunkers that surround the green some 175 yards out there. Because of the way this course has been maintained, my guess is the pond’s condition is only temporary. Even though Hole #8 is the number eight handicap hole, it can be difficult. There are trees surrounding both sides of the fairway and the green is tucked back to the left as you move down this hole. Bunkers enclose the green and any shot long will make a downhill chip to the green very challenging.
We both made the number one handicap ninth hole play easier than it really is. This par 4 has a dogleg to the left. The way we attacked this hole is a perfect segue into the summary section: two shots down the middle; two approach shots just short of the green; two pitch shots to two feet; and two putts for par.
Rating – Ace (56 out of 60): Twin Sons of Different Mothers. The title of the Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg 1978 album was the story of two Aurora College teammates. As I mentioned earlier Ray and I were soccer and baseball teammates. Beside that we were both: all-conference in both sports; recipients of the Aurora College Athlete of the Year Award; members of the now Aurora University Athletic Hall of Fame; and today, two identical pars on number nine! Truly Twin Sons of Different Mothers!
Now let’s turn the clock back 52 years!
Let’s move just a few years further to the Spring of 1973 where this golf journey started. Even though I graduated in the winter of 1972, a teaching job would not be available until Fall. Being a 5th year senior, I still had one season of baseball eligibility left, so I went back to play my final year. It was the most fun I had with a great bunch of guys. I also took Beginning Golf 101 from my baseball and soccer coach (Fred Bornkamp) and that class started me on this path. Thanks coach and RIP!
Now back to Pottawatomie Golf Course. The 56 out of 60 ties the highest mark we have ever given. The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in 1939 and still offers a challenge 80 years later. I love the layout and routing of the course as it offers a variety of hole configurations. The staff was very helpful; the course was in excellent shape (pond?); the pace of play was fast; and it is in an outstanding setting. It does not offer much in the way of amenities but what it does offer is excellent golf.
P.S. These two old teammates were able to leave the course unscathed!
845 N. 2nd Ave., St. Charles, IL 60174; 630-584-8356; www.pottawatomiegc.com