PRIOR LAKE, MINN.
18 HOLES, 6,906 YARDS
$35-$70 GREEN FEES
18 MILES FROM MINNEAPOLIS
A secret even to avid Twin Cities golfers, the Legends Club is tucked in a corner of the Credit River flood plain. The Garrett Gill and Paul Miller design is a blend of crowd appeal and common sense with broad fairways that collect rather than repel shots.
This being Minnesota, there are lakes at nearly every turn. The back nine is routed around 30-acre Lake Legend. Other hidden hazards like the wetlands along the par-4 third and a lake that reaches into the fairway on the 18th make the cart's GPS diagrams essential.
The clubhouse has a veranda and a clock tower, and the staff members will tell you they're selling not just rounds of golf but charm and ambience. That's especially true in the fall when the oaks and poplars are ablaze with color.DetroitSHEPHERD'S HOLLOW G.C.
27 HOLES, 7,235 YARDS
$60-$85 GREEN FEES
35 MILES FROM DETROIT
This tranquil getaway is as peaceful as a seminary because Shepherd's Hollow is on the grounds of one. With 170 feet of elevation change, holes framed by dense foliage, a pine plantation surrounding the clubhouse, and bunkers scattered at random, the three-year-old design looks 75.
There are three no-nonsense nines to choose from, each at least 3,580 yards long. The second and third nines are 54th on Golf Digest's new ranking of America's 100 Greatest Public Courses.ChicagoTHE GLEN CLUB
18 HOLES, 7,149 YARDS
$105-$130 GREEN FEES
20 MILES FROM CHICAGO
The opening and closing holes at The Glen Club are artfully decorated with ponds. Other holes are imitation links, framed by tall-grass dunes and juniper bushes that substitute for gorse. On the southern edge is a collection of parkland holes threaded around ancient Catalpa trees and acres of manicured rough.
The main lobby of The Glen's 48,000 square-foot classical clubhouse is home to the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. Upstairs are 21 guest rooms, each distinctly decorated in tribute to great local clubs, including Medinah and Butler National.MilwaukeeWHISTLING STRAITS
36 HOLES, 7,201/7,362 YARDS
$198-$270 GREEN FEES
50 MILES FROM MILWAUKEE
Site of the 2004 PGA Championship, The Straits Course is Pete Dye's ode to Irish golf, a tabletop bulldozed into 60-foot-high sand dunes and 10-foot-deep pot bunkers. Lodging is at the Inn on Woodlake or The American Club in Kohler, where each room is a plumbing-fixture showcase for the grandest bathrooms in all of golf.