CHICAGO -- You can't call yourself a golfer if you haven't tried to sneak in a round between client calls, steal nine holes after the last meeting of the day and the flight home, or slip in an early 18 before you have to put on that suit and meet the boss for a working lunch.
Thing is, there are a lot of cities that are not the best choices for conducting the art of what one might call "squeeze-in" golf. However, Chicago -- one of the nation's most active business-convention towns -- might be the best place in America for both sealing the deal and sinking a putt.
Here's your one, two, three strategy for getting it done.
One: Think proximity to the airport
The good thing is that there are two airports in Chicago. If your flight is coming or going from O'Hare, consider playing White Pines Golf Club. It's just 8 miles from Terminal One at Chicago's big airport.
White Pines has two golf courses -- the West and the East -- and both are highly playable, tree-lined and in good shape. And you can snatch a quick sandwich at The Pub at White Pines before racing to catch your flight.
If your big jet plane is using one of the runways at Midway, there are two good options. West of the airport is Cog Hill Golf and Country Club. The facility is one of the best public golf experiences in the country with four courses to choose from, including the famed Dubsdread Course where several PGA Tour events have been staged.
Cog Hill is about 20 miles from Midway, but the extra drive time is worth it for a chance to play one of the best courses in the Midwest. And if you make the trip early in the day, you'll miss the traffic.
The other option for Midway travelers is Harborside International Golf Center. This is a magnificently designed, beautifully manicured facility on Chicago's Southside just 16 minutes from The Loop. Two courses -- Port and Starboard -- are dramatic and impeccably conditioned.
Harborside's location is a businessman's dream. It's only 12 miles from Midway Airport, and about 12 minutes from McCormick Place, Chicago's enormous convention center. By the way, the clubhouse also has a great men's locker room so you can grab a speedy shower before meeting the boss.
Two: Consider staying close to the action
Your business trip might include a dinner along the city's glitzy Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile, or a Blackhawks or Bulls game at the United Center, or a Sunday at Soldier Field to see the Bears. And if that's the case, then nine holes can be had quite easily at Sydney R. Marovitz Golf Course, better known to the locals as Waveland, its original name.
This is truly a beautiful stretch of land along the shores of Lake Michigan right in the heart of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood on the near Northside. This may be the best urban golf course in any American city. The views are more than memorable, and the landscape with the mature trees and the lake is stunning.
Three: Be efficient
There are a couple of good options if you need to stay close to Chicago's business districts.
Jackson Park Golf Course is on the city's Southside. It's an old, historic course that's been renovated in recent years. This layout is not a precious gem, but it is a diamond in the rough.
And then there's Cook County's Indian Boundary Golf Course near the west suburb of River Grove. It's managed by Billy Casper Golf, and over the last several years has been given some tender loving care, turning it into a highly enjoyable walk in the park. It's nestled in a forest preserve. Watch out for the deer; they are everywhere.
If your business travel takes you outside The Loop to the area's other popular business center, Oak Brook, you'll also have two solid choices.
Oak Brook Golf Club is one of the better municipal layouts in the Chicagoland area, easily accessible from the tollway system and 25 minutes from O'Hare. And if you're looking for a premiere experience try Willow Crest Golf Course at the Marriot in Oak Brook with some of the finest, most challenging par 3s in the Chicago area. Willow Crest has six on this tight, fun track.
Quickie golf doesn't have to be bad or hurried golf. If you do a little planning, it can be as fun and easy as one, two, three.