Golf: You either love the sport or claim it isn’t one. Personally, I hope you fall underneath the first label, because if so, today's your lucky day. As an avid golfer, I’m fortunate to live in Rockford where the area provides fruitful offerings for lovers of the game. With that being said, I’m here to give you a tour of the Rockford area’s public courses while detailing their difficulty levels and extraneous appeals.

Aldeen Golf Club | 1902 Reid Farm Road, Rockford

Difficulty: 8/10


Since its opening in 1991, Aldeen Golf Club has been the crown jewel of the Rockford Park District’s collection of golf courses in Winnebago county and one of the best in Illinois. Home to multiple Illinois State Championships, this 7,000-yard 18-hole course offers the most challenging golf in the greater Rockford area due to its tough greens, 62 bunkers and water hazards on 12 holes. Golfers of Northern Illinois are truly fortunate to have Aldeen which is made evident by the multiple awards it has received from national golf magazines. In 2009, Golf Digest named Aldeen as the best municipal golf course in Illinois. Even if you don’t have a low handicap, you’re missing out if you’re not playing Aldeen. Its weekday walking rate of $31 for 18 holes is simply a steal to play one of the best courses in the state. It also features beautiful scenery and a fantastic restaurant, Alechemy, to dine in after your round.

The Ledges | 7111 McCurry Rd, Roscoe

Difficulty: 6.5/10

Located in Roscoe, The Ledges is one of three golf courses maintained by the Forest Reserves of Winnebago County. The Ledges is a challenging (but not *too* challenging) golf course. Its 6,300 yard length from the middle tees creates multiple birdie-able holes such as 1, 2, 6, 10, 11, 15 and 17. Besides those holes, you’re going to have to play precision golf to score well at The Ledges. Holes 5, 8, 13 and 14 are really the epitome of what you’ll be getting at this course --- elevation changes, tree-lined fairways, water hazards, and carefully placed bunkers.

Sinnissippi Golf Course | 2003 Arlington Ave, Rockford

Difficulty: 3.5/10

sinnissippi golf course

A wonderful 9-hole course owned by the Rockford Park District, Sinnissippi Golf Course offers a breezy round of golf right in the heart of the ever-hilly Sinnissippi park. Pretty much every hole goes uphill or downhill by quite a lot. If you’re not good at that, I’d highly recommend practicing before walking up to par 5 hole 4 where the fairway goes over a ridge and into a valley with its green located atop another steep hill. Even in nine holes, this course isn’t an easy walk. The ever-changing elevation forces you to get thousands of steps, so if you’re not looking for that, I’d recommend taking a cart. Besides the hills, this par 37 course is very beginner friendly, making for a relaxed round of golf with its wide fairways and forgiving greens. Sinnissippi is also the park district’s only 9-hole course and is the closest to downtown Rockford if you live in the city.

Macktown | 2221 Freeport Rd, Rockton, IL

Difficulty: 4/10

Another forest preserve course, Macktown has a lot of similarities to The Ledges while being a bit more accessible to the average golfer. The biggest thing you’ll need to watch out for on this course are the trees that come into play on nearly every hole. Theoretically, you should be in pretty good shape if you have at least one club you can consistently hit straight. However, you may want to practice with up and downhill lines before the round considering the many hilly fairways. The greens here are forgiving, so you shouldn’t tarnish your score from inconsistent putting. In Rockton, Macktown is one of the most enjoyable courses to play in Winnebago County. It’s relatively easy with a few exceptions for select holes. This course blends into the woods of Rockton so you can really take in the beautiful nature throughout your round. When you’re at higher elevations (like the green of hole 18), you’re treated to gorgeous views of the surrounding area.

Sandy Hollow Golf Course | 2670 Sandy Hollow Rd, Rockford

Difficulty: 5/10

sandy hollow golf course

The third and final Park District course I’ll be mentioning today, Sandy Hollow Golf Course, is a more player-friendly, 18-hole option as opposed to Aldeen. Like many courses around the Forest City, you’ll need to stay cognizant of the trees that often come into play. Sandy Hollow is a nice and attainable course. The yardage isn’t too short or too far, but rather, just right. Most fairways are easily reached and the greens shouldn’t give you too much trouble. This par 71 located on the south side of the city caters to two different styles of golf on the front and back nines. As the front forces you to be more accurate off the tee, the back is more open, relying on distance. I’d recommend playing here if you’re looking to get in a quick round after work, as the course is relatively open in the evenings and you can get a great deal for the “Twilight” price.

Winnebago County offers so many great golf courses, and these are just five of them. Some honorable mentions include Ingersoll or Newburg Village golf courses if you’re looking for a fun round of golf with short holes and opportunities for eagle sightings. If you’d rather work on your game off the course, head over to the state-of-the-art Aldeen Practice Centre where you can find a driving range and practice areas for putting, chipping, and bunker shots. For guidance from professionals, the Rockford Park District offers lessons you can book online through their website.