One glance at the Eaglewood scorecard and doubts immediately popped into my mind. A par 72 course that tops out at a few steps over 6,000 yards is plenty long for this 20 handicap golfer, but how does it defend itself against better golfers armed with 21st century technology? Surprisingly, pretty well, as the resort course in Itasca more than holds its own against all but the very best players. The 60 plus bunkers are menacingly deep and ideally placed, the three ponds and meandering creek at the north end of the course are true hazards, and the sloping greens are perilous from above the hole.
The lack of distance is well hidden by the diversity of the holes. The par 3’s on the front side, #’s 6 & 8, are stern tests at 201 and 194 yards, respectively, while two of the three par 5’s on the back side, #’s 10 & 12, measure 538 and 515 yards, with the uphill 12th rated the toughest over the final nine. Throw in the 421 yard par four 17th and there is enough length to keep you honest.
The course dates back to 1928, and the real star here are the hundreds of majestic oaks and hardwoods that line many of the fairways over the rolling, hilly landscape. The 4th hole epitomizes the essence of Eaglewood. A blind tee shot over a ridge tightly framed by the woods drops down to the green, a beautiful parkland hole that feels longer than the posted 337 yards. And that holds true throughout the round, as the rises and falls and subtle doglegs adds a few extra yards and requires enough strategic shot making that lends to the listed 120 slope.
For the longer hitters, the drivable 9th (272 yards) and 15th holes (293 yards) are alluring opportunities for birdies not usually found at many area layouts, but the heavily bunkered greens make par a good score. The most controversial hole at Eaglewood is the 13th, a minuscule 91 yards at the south end of the course, that yes, feels like an afterthought as the original designer, Paul Maddux, discovered he was a hole short of 18. But it is 91 yards of fun, and fun is another theme that runs consistently throughout the round.
Many local golfers recall this layout as Nordic Hills, which brings back nightmare memories of six hour rounds and sketchy conditions. Rest assured that the renamed Eaglewood is definitely not Nordic Hills. The course was in fine condition on my last visit, the fruits of extensive upgrades over the last several years, and the compact layout offers plenty of eye-appealing scenery. The accompanying resort features 295 rooms and suites and 37,000 square feet of meeting space, and has been awarded the prestigious AAA 4 Diamond award every year since 2007.
But I’m a golfer, and I thoroughly enjoyed the 4 hours and 20 minutes I spent on a sunny weekend afternoon at a course described as “The Little Green Menace”, proof that a golf course is not measured by its length but by the quality and challenge of the round that it offers, and Eaglewood delivers. Green fees range between the mid $50’s weekdays and mid $60’s weekends, with rates dropping $20 – $25 later in the day, an appealing price point that will work for most golfers. Eaglewood is the definition of the sporty layout of a bygone era and worth a visit.
EAGLEWOOD GOLF CLUB
1401 Nordic Road, Itasca
3 tees – 6,017 – 5,056 yards, par 72
Rating/Slope – 68.2/120 – 66.3/115 (M);
M-F $41 walk/$56 ride to Noon, $31/46 to 3 pm, $26/36 after 3
SA-SU $51/66 to Noon, $41/56 to 2 pm, $36/46 to 3 pm, $31/41 after 3