I have played at Craig Woods more that 20 times over the past 3 years. Each time I come here to play, I know that I am going to be getting a good value (cost me $14 to walk 9 holes today). The course has always been in good shape no matter what time of the year I have played it and today was no different. When considering 9 hole courses in McHenry County, in my opinion, it is the second toughest behind Woodstock CC.
The course layout will test everyone's game whether you are a beginner or you have a solid game. I currently am an 11 handicap and this little 9 hole track always seems to beat me up. There are three sets of tees with it playing 2429 yards from the blues down to 2006 yards from the reds. Water hazards come into play on 6 of the 9 holes. There is only one par 5 on the course, three par 3's, and five par 4's. The course does not play "long" and realistically you could play all day with just your irons. The longest par 4 is just 325 yards from the tips.
Where the course challenges you is the par 3's. The third hole is an island green that gives you very little room for error. It is what I would consider the signature hole of this course. It is only 130 yards from the tips, but the tee shot it downhill and just visually intimidating. The fifth hole is a "turtle back" green that just repels balls. If your tee shot is right, you are OB. If your tee shot is left, you are going to have an interesting shot out of mature trees.
Overall, the course's greens are small so your wedge or short iron approaches need to be very accurate. You very rarely will have a straight, flat putt on these greens. They are a great test. There are no bunkers on this course, but thick rough runs right up to the edges of most of the greens.
The clubhouse is just a place to pay for your round and grab a soda or Gatorade to take onto the course with you. There are no beverage carts on the course. The alcohol and hot food are across the street at Crystal Woods. The staff has always been very friendly. Pace of play is OK depending on when you come out to the course. They do not accept tee times so there can be a back-up waiting to tee off at the first tee. If there is a line at the first tee, you are better off trying to go across the street and walk on at Crystal Woods.
Don't shy away from this course because it is "just" a par 34, 9 hole course. Play it, enjoy it, and watch your game improve.
He would play this course again.