Southern Illinois is a golfer’s paradise

( file photo)

( file photo)

By Nathan Dodd

Southern Illinois is known for its beautiful landscapes, wildlife refuges and landmarks. Fields of green grass blow in the wind and instill a desire in residents to appreciate the elegance that the area offers.

There are many ways for southern Illinois visitors and residents to indulge in the area’s beauty.

For sports fans and avid golfers, southern Illinois features a variety of top-class golf courses that intertwine the sport with the nature that the area offers.


Hickory Ridge Golf Course (Carbondale)

Hickory Ridge serves as the home site for events hosted by the SIU golf teams. The 18-hole course was opened in 1993 and features 6,863 yards of lush Zoysia grass.

The par-72 course is known for its long fairways with difficult sand bunkers and water hazards.

The championship course is open to the public — offering a discounted rate for SIU students — and welcomes golfers of all skill sets. However, the consensus seems to be that Hickory Ridge is tailored more towards the advanced golfer.

Hickory Ridge is located at 2727 W. Glenn Road and opens daily at 7:30 a.m. The course can be reached at (618) 529-4386.

Crab Orchard Golf Club (Carterville)

Less than nine miles down IL-13 lies the 18-hole course referred to as COGC.  The par-70 course was first opened in 1959 and welcomes golfers of all ages and skill level.


Featuring wide fairways surrounded by broad treelines, Crab Orchard has been named to Golf Digest’s Best Places to Play. The course also offers challenges to golfers with bunkers and water hazards depending on what tee box is being facilitated by the golfer.

COGC Director of Golf Steve Heckel offers lessons for golfers looking to improve their game. Heckel has been recognized by Golf Magazine as one of America’s Top Instructors.

The course regularly hosts scrambles and tournaments and is open to the public on non-event days. Through, visitors can book tee times with the course’s dynamic booking feature; offering the lowest rates at certain times of the day.

Crab Orchard Golf Club is located at 901 W. Grand Ave. with varying hours of operation. COGC can be reached at 618-985-4653.

Keller’s Crossing at Stone Creek (Makanda)

Located at 503 Stone Creek Dr., Keller’s Crossing is less than seven miles from SIU’s campus.

Stone Creek served as the apex of southern Illinois golf for years before the passing of creator Jim Keller. The course historically served as the site for the annual Illinois state golf tournaments along with other various events.

Currently, under the new ownership of the Chrzan family, Keller’s Crossing at Stone Creek is open to the public and features a dynamic booking system similar to COGC.

Any tee time that is scheduled on Monday-Thursday at least 24 hours in advance receives a free lunch special.

This is the course for any golfer wanting to get the full nature experience of southern Illinois. The par-72 course is located just outside the Shawnee National Forest and incorporates the natural hills and valleys into a challenging 18-hole experience.

Keller’s Crossing at Stone Creek can be contacted at (618) 351-4653.

Jackson County Country Club (Murphysboro)

Opened in 1923, JCCC is one of the area’s oldest courses. This par-71/72 measures 6,014 yards and is open daily to the public.

Just five miles away from SIU, Jackson County has been a destination of choice for many area golfers.

The course maintains 18 holes of Zoysia and Bentgrass that challenges golfers of any skill level. JCCC does welcome golfers of all skills and ages.

Jackson County Country Club is located at 5776 Country Club Rd. and can be reached at (618) 684-2387.

Other area courses

Outside the courses in the immediate area of SIU, southern Illinois offers many more great courses that are just a short drive from Carbondale.

Franklin County Country Club in West Frankfort is an 18-hole, par-71 course that is considered one of the most challenging courses to play in southern Illinois.

Kokopelli Golf Club in Marion has been nationally recognized as one of the nation’s best places to play. Copious amount of sand bunkers will give even the most experienced golfer fits.

For golfers wanting a short round of golf, Benton Country Club in Benton is a 9-hole course that appeals to golfers of all skill levels.

No matter which side of campus you decide to live on, you will only be a few minutes drive from some of the state’s best golf courses.

Sports reporter Nathan Dodd can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @NathanMDodd.

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