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OFF THE TOP Vince India passes on a chance to defend at the Illinois State Amateur

GRAND OPENING At a time when courses are closing, Metamora Fields opens its doors

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GUEST ESSAY David Paeglow

Back to the future Golf courses might be getting longer, but there’s a move afoot for players to try a shorter version

I

f you’ve been around golf courses on any kind of a regular basis over the last five years or so, more than likely you’ve seen fewer golfers than what you might have expected. That’s no secret. Going by virtually any survey or study that’s been conducted by any of the national golf associations, the game is in the process of experiencing a downward trend in the number of players and, in turn, the number of rounds those golfers play. While no one disputes that the sluggish U.S. economy plays a major role in this, others say the game has lost its momentum and they often point to reasons within the industry as primary causes, including: •The game is hard to learn and the golf course can be an intimidating place for newcomers; •The game still is a somewhat expensive activity; •Golf still takes too long to get around 18 holes. A new initiative being promoted by the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America takes aim at that last item. The “Tee It Forward” campaign offers the promise that golf course operators might finally be willing to do something about slow play while, even better, making the game more enjoyable for players through lower scores. Golfers who play on a regular basis all too often have experienced the frustration of playing behind a group that has bitten off more than it can chew by deciding to play from a set of tees that makes the course too difficult for their abilities. The aim of

the Tee It Forward campaign is to get those golfers to play from the tees that better suit their games. The foremost proponent of the movement, Barney Adams, provided the basis to create a simple chart (see sample, below) that helps to determine an approximate total course yardage that is suitable for amateur golfers. Based on the length of a player’s average shot with a driver—not the great once-a-year tee shot that ends up 25 yards longer than usual—the chart proposes a range that each player should consider following. Of course, this also means golfers have to do things they might not be accustomed to, such as ignoring where the course has placed the tee markers. If a golfer generally plays a set of tees that measure around 6,200 yards but the Tee It Forward chart recommends a length between 5,800 yards and 6,000, simply tee it Tee It Forward According to Barney Recommended Avg. Drive Course Yardage Adams, the founder of the Adams 150 3,500-3,700 Golf manufacturing 175 4,400-4,600 company and a 200 5,200-5,400 longtime golf club 225 5,800-6,000 inventor, here are the lengths of golf 6,200-6,400 250 courses amateur 275 6,700-6,900 players should choose (right column), depending on the length of their average drive (left column).

up from the tee set closest to your prescribed yardage. The numbers in the chart aren’t meant to be strict rules; they are, as much as anything, guidelines and suggested recommendations. But at the end of

David Paeglow

the day you’ve played a course that probably is better suited for your game, and in the overwhelming number of instances, your 18-hole score is going to be lower. While my course, Kishwaukee Country Club, doesn’t have much of a pace-of-play problem because the course measures just a bit short of 6,100 yards from the back markers, I think the Tee It Forward idea is one that all golf professionals, whether at a public course or private facility, should endorse. If you think about it, there is no downside. Golfers will be able to get around 18 holes faster than they normally do, which means clubs and courses will be able to accommodate more players in a given day, and what course manager or owner is going to complain about getting more customers through the front door? Players are going to shoot lower scores and that’s more fun. Isn’t that a large reason why we play the game in the first place? David Paeglow is the head professional at Kishwaukee Country Club in DeKalb, Ill., and one of three local pros to make the cut at the PGA Professional National Championship.

Comments are solely the opinion of the author and not necessarily those of the CDGA. Letters and opinions are welcome at info@cdga.org. AUGUST 2011

CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 5


CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLF ASSOCIATION F O R EV ERYO N E W H O PLAYS T H E G A ME Midwest Golf House | 11855 Archer Ave. | Lemont, IL 60439 | 630-257-2005 | Fax 630-257-2088 | www.cdga.org

OFFICERS

VO L U M E 2 2 , N U M B E R 4

SENIOR DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

Matt Baylor

PRESIDENT Matthew L. Pekarek, Village Links of Glen Ellyn

VICE PRESIDENT AT LARGE Steven S. Birky, Danville CC

GENERAL COUNSEL Sheldon Solow, Briarwood CC

SENIOR DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE PARTNERSHIPS

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT Keith Frankland, Village Greens of Woodridge

SECRETARY Alan J. Hunken, Bob O’Link GC

EX-OFFICIO Jerry Williams, Olympia Fields CC

MANAGER OF COMMUNICATIONS

SECOND VICE PRESIDENT David Haverick, Pine Meadow CC

TREASURER Michael J. Grandinetti, Calumet CC

Andrew Louthain Alli Ferguson EDITOR

Rich Skyzinski

GOVERNORS Thomas Allison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beverly CC William R. Buecking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Biltmore CC C. Daniel Cochran. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Biltmore CC David A. Esler. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Black Sheep GC Charles E. Hodgson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arrowhead CC Gary B. Koch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At Large James B. Madison, M.D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Illini CC Nick Mokelke. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cog Hill G & CC Mike Nass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cantigny Golf Dennis A. Reed. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pekin CC

Thomas H. Roth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inverness GC Don Schwarz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Prestwick CC Lawrence W. Schweik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bartlett Hills GC Lorraine Scodro. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Midlothian CC Philip Shannabarger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Den at Fox Creek Gerald Skoning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cog Hill G & CC Rebecca A. Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chalet Hills GC Christine L. Stevens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cress Creek CC A. Glenn Stith. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arrowhead GC Robert J. Stracks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Northmoor CC

DIRECTORS Robert E. Allgyer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Shoreacres Richard Andre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ridge CC Philip Angelini . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Edgewood Valley CC Thomas R. Artz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sportsman’s CC Guy Arvia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Exmoor CC Randy Becker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winnetka CC Daniel M. Blouin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Village Greens of Woodridge Andrew Boling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chicago GC Mary Burgland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Soangetaha CC Michael Camino. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Conway Farms GC Gordon L. Campbell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ruth Lake CC Frank Charhut . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Wilmette GC Steven L. Cherveny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . White Pines GC John A. Childers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Elgin CC Michael J. Choate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . North Shore CC Michael E. Clark, D.P.M. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .CC of Decatur Edward Clissold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Westmoreland CC Henry Close . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Aldeen GC David Crockett. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At Large Guy Crucil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Medinah CC Robert J. Cunningham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Indian Hill Club Robert L. Cunningham. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Turnberry CC Ronald Davidson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Makray Memorial GC Anthony DeMarco . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Olympia Fields CC Michael J. Dickman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Calumet CC Keith Dunkelbarger. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sunset Hills GC Jeffrey D. Echt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lake Shore CC Anthony Ferino . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arrowhead GC William Finn, M.D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Riverside GC Michael Forde . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At Large Larry Fulgenzi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Old Wayne GC Mary Garrison . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Winnetka GC Thomas Gehr . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sportsman’s CC Thomas A. Gilley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Flossmoor CC Kevin Gratkowski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lost Dunes Michael Griem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Exmoor CC Gregory Grygiel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Heritage Bluffs GC Howard Haberkorn. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Boulder Ridge CC James J. Hager . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lake Barrington Shores GC Thomas J. Haggerty. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Butterfield CC J. Loren Hall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blackstone GC Eugene N. Halladay. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hinsdale GC John L. Hammond, II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Evanston GC John Henderson, M.D. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . CC of Peoria Robert Hinton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Panther Creek CC Edward J. Hockfield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Grove CC James Hundman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . White Eagle GC Jack Ingold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lake Bluff GC Betty Kaufmann. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Knollwood Club Peter Keffer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Aldeen GC

Karl Keller, D.D.S. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Kankakee Elks GC Jack Kieckhefer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mauh-Nah-Tee-See CC William Kingore . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Beverly CC Bill Koeneman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At Large Daniel R. Krpan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Boulder Ridge CC Laurence J. LaBoda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Kemper Lakes CC Josh Lesnik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Glen Club R. Scott Malmgren. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Glen Oak CC John Mattson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Big Foot CC Christopher R. McClear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . At Large Richard McCombs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Oak Park CC Elston Mitchell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pontiac Elks CC David Mortell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Balmoral Woods CC Thomas E. Mott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rockford CC Edward Mulcahy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Midlothian CC Kenneth Murphy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Medinah CC Rudolph E. Nelson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Schaumburg GC H. Steven Nichols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Champaign CC Clay Nicolsen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mistwood GC James J. O’Hagan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Park Ridge CC Lawrence Oakford. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Woodstock CC John Ozag . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rolling Green CC John Paladino. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Forest Hills CC Arthur W. Peters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ruth Lake CC Roger L. Peterson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lincolnshire Fields CC Ronald Potter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . White Eagle GC D. William Robertson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PrairieView GC John Rolfe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Northmoor CC Michael Rooney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Butler National GC James F. Rudwall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ivanhoe Club Samuel M.Sallerson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bryn Mawr CC Michael J. Scheer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LaGrange CC Brian Shahinian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Foxford Hills GC James Siemers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Steeple Chase GC Richard J. Skrodzki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LaGrange CC Laura Spring. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . St. Charles CC Darryl Stock . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Red Tail Run GC C. Nelson Strom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stonewall Orchard GC Mike Sullivan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bloomington CC James Troy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crystal Tree G & CC Kenneth Urbaszewski. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Deerfield GC David A. Usiak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crestwicke CC Anthony M. Viola. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Park Ridge CC Timothy Vola . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harborside International Ben Waldie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . St. Charles CC David A. Walters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crystal Lake CC Joe Williamson. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Briar Ridge CC James E. Winslow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inverness GC J.C. Wise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Plum Tree National GC

To contact Chicago District Golfer 630-257-2005 • info@cdga.org PUBLISHING PARTNER

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6 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

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AUGUST 2011 | Vol. 22 No. 4

Features 20 SHORT STORY Hinsdale’s Jeff Sluman talks about his career as he further settles into the Champions Tour 22 TRULY GRAND By Tim Cronin Founded with a comforting, steady hand 100 years ago, Westmoreland Country Club hasn’t lost its touch 24 THE LEARNING CURVE By Amy Parker Raymont Harris takes on golf with the same zeal and determination that drove his NFL career 26 NEW KID ON THE BLOCK By Greg Stewart Metamora Fields Golf Club opens and the Ring family’s vision for a new central Illinois course comes to fruition 28 ROOM AT THE TOP By Len Ziehm When this year’s Illinois State Amateur Championship visits Glen Oak Country Club, it will be without two of its top three finishers from last year

16

32 SPECIAL PRIVILEGE By Len Ziehm Having lost to Andy Mickelson in a playoff a month earlier, Kyle English prevailed in a rematch to make it a special ending to the CDGA Amateur 36 HEAD OF THE CLASS By Rory Spears Connor Black claims the legendary Western Junior title and plans to follow in the footsteps of the greats who have come before him Departments GUEST ESSAY

David Paeglow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 AROUND THE CDGA

Fit for Golf . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Club Corner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Aces in the Crowd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Ask the Docs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Tournament Update . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 FACILITY FOCUS

Ironwood Golf Course . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

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Louisville, Ky. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 GEMS OF THE CDGA

Kenosha Country Club . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 RULES OF THE GAME . . . . . . . . . . 40

COVER: Kyle English (Frank Polich/CDGA). CONTENTS (clockwise, from top): Connor Black (Chuck Cherney/ WGA); Kearney Hill Golf Links (photo by Jonathan Palmer).

AUGUST 2011

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» FIT FOR GOLF Shoulder strength is key for a strong swing SHOULDER STRENGTH, particularly in the posterior aspect of the shoulder, is an important part of the golf swing. Lead shoulder strength is important to control the club into impact and toward a good, full follow-through. Trail shoulder strength is critical in getting the club into a good position at the top of the back swing and ensuring an ‘inside-out swing path.’ There are many good shoulder strengthening exercises available, but simply remembering four letters — Y, T, W, L — is a great way to strengthen both lead and trail shoulders throughout a full range of motion that is necessary for a great swing. The golfer’s alphabet consists of four exercises that mimic the shape of the letters Y, T, W, and L. Each of these does a great job in taking the shoulder through different positions that the arms might be in during the swing. These exercises can be done in the gym with the use of a stability ball or simply in one’s address position, making a great warm-up on

the range or before a round. In addition, by utilizing all four movements, one can strengthen all the muscles around the shoulder joint, including the prime movers and those responsible for stabilizing the area, thus creating better arm function throughout the swing and minimizing risk of injury. Y — Standing in golf posture or with stomach resting on a stability ball, let arms hang, turn thumbs toward the sky and lift arms up above head creating a ‘Y.’ Slowly return arms to starting position and perform 10-15 repetitions. T — Standing in golf posture or with stomach resting on a stability ball, let arms hang, turn thumbs towards sky and lift arms straight out to the side creating a ‘T.’ Be sure to keep neck relaxed and focus on squeezing muscles between shoulder blades. Slowly return arms to starting position and perform 10-15 repetitions. W — Standing in golf posture or with stomach resting on a stability ball, let

arms hang, bend elbows to 90 degrees and turn thumbs towards sky. Keeping a 90 degree angle at elbow, touch elbows in front and then move them as far apart as possible, squeezing muscles between lower part of shoulder blades. Slowly return arms to front and touch elbows and repeat. Perform 10-15 repetitions. L — Standing in golf posture or with stomach resting on a stability ball, hold a club parallel to the ground, with one hand at the top of the grip and the other on the shaft just above the club head. Bring the club up as if lifting something towards your chest making sure your elbows stay wide. Once elbows are in a straight line with one another and your shoulders, rotate arms so that the club is directly above your head. Reverse motion and lower club back toward the ground. Repeat 10-15 times. For more information, call AthletiCo at 630-572-9700 or visit the website at athleticogolfcenter.com.

» CLUB CORNER Make the most of your putter by getting properly fitted IF A ROOM OF 100 GOLFERS were surveyed, how many would say they are an excellent putter and couldn’t possibly improve? Well, unless their stroke is Ben Crenshaw-esque or Dave Stockton is on speed dial, odds are many could benefit from a putter fitting. Putting accounts for around 40 percent of a player’s total score, so why do driver fittings outnumber putter fittings by at least a 10 to 1 margin? There are many possible reasons. The most probable is that most golfers don’t know the technology exists to analyze putting strokes or don’t know how or where to get it done. Another reason is golfers tend to have a more emotional connection to putters. Tell a golfer he can get 10 to 15 extra yards or cure his slice with a new driver, and the old driver will be switched out in no time. With putters, players tend to think it’s their own fault and nothing to do with the putter. In some cases that is true, but a properly-fitted putter can shave strokes off a game faster than any other club in the bag. One of the best methods to analyze the putting stroke is The Science and Motion (SAM) PuttLab, which is the same technology that many top Tour pros use when they are looking

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for feedback. Within seconds, the SAM PuttLab analyzes 28 important parameters of a putter and putting stroke and displays the results in easily viewable graphic reports. The SAM shows the putting stroke path, illustrates how to correct aim at address, measures acceleration, rotation and more. A certified fitter can then explain the key data, which is typically very enlightening and can make an instant improvement in a golfer’s game or club configuration. The recommendation and conclusion of a putter fitting may come in the form of a new putter, but may also simply be to tweak a player’s existing putter. Common changes often performed are to add or subtract loft from an existing putter, change the lie angle, cut down or add length and lastly, add a new grip. At the end of the day, the objective is to make more putts. Whether it’s a brand new putter or an old standby that you just can’t seem to part with, it will be optimized after the fitting is complete. For more information, call Club Champion at 630-654-8887 or visit online at clubchampiongolf.com.

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ACES IN THE CROWD

» PEOPLE AND PL ACES

» ACES IN THE CROWD

Poplar Creek undergoes renovations

Brad Benjamin

THESE TOUGH ECONOMIC times have curtailed most golf course construction projects nationwide, but not at Poplar Creek, a 35-year-old course owned by the Hoffman Estates Park District. This layout, as well as its clubhouse and practice facility, just underwent a $6.5 million renovation. Lohmann Golf Designs, of Marengo, supervised the massive changes, which were completed in time for a June 10 reopening of the course. It’s now called The Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club. Brian Bechtold, the course’s general manager and head professional, said the renovation was designed to address flooding and irrigation problems, and eight new bridges were a key to that. “Our bridges were increased in length

Rockford Benjamin was one of three amateurs to make the cut at the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. He opened with a 1-over-par 72 to share 34th place, then added a 73 in Round 2 to make the cut by one stroke. Benjamin, the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion, shot an 80 in each of the final two rounds to finish in 72nd place. He earned a spot in the Open by finishing in a tie for second at the sectional qualifier at St. Charles (Ill.) Country Club, where there were three spots available.

to cover some of our flood problems,” said Bechtold. Four of the bridges have also been turned into tributes to golf legends Bobby Jones, Chick Evans, Babe Zaharias and Samuel Ryder. The renovation called for the nines to be flipped from the previous layout, and only the old fifth and sixth holes (now Nos. 15 and 16) were left virtually untouched. Water is a factor on 16 of the 18 holes, but doesn’t come into serious play on some of them. The new yardage from the tips is 6,500 with four sets of tees available, the shortest playing at 4,597 yards. Bechtold is especially pleased with the Final Charge, a name given to the strong three finishing holes that include two tough par 4s and a picturesque par 3.

Margaret Flynn and Jennifer Rehn Naperville Flynn and Rehn both celebrated holes-in-one at the Chicago Women’s District Golf Association West Section Team Play event in early June. Held at Butterfield Country Club on the Blue and White courses, the ladies were part of a two-person team representing Naperville Country Club. Flynn’s ace was captured on hole No. 6 with a 5 wood on the White course and Rehn’s came on hole No. 2 with a 5 iron on the White course as well.

— Len Ziehm

Ember Schuldt Sterling Schuldt, a sophomore at the University of Illinois, made it to the match play portion of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the Old McDonald course at Bandon Dunes in Oregon. After shooting an 8277—159 in the stroke play portion, she went up against Emilie Burger of Hoschton, Ga., in the Round of 64, but lost to Burger, 2 and 1. Schuldt qualified for the event by tying for third with a 5-over 75 at the qualifier held at Wilmette Golf Club.

Mike Small

AUGUST 2011

PHOTO COURTESY THE BRIDGES OF POPLAR CREEK

The Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club

Champaign Small, the head coach of the men’s golf team at the University of Illinois, was the low scorer among the 15 players from Illinois who competed in the 44th PGA Professional National Championship at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club. Small, a threetime champion, finished in a tie for eighth place with a 72hole score of 6-under-par 279, which earned him a spot in August’s PGA Championship by placing in the top 20. Other Illinois entrants to make the cut included David Paeglow (T32), the head professional at Kishwaukee Country Club in DeKalb, and Kyle Sanders (48), an assistant professional at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton. Aces In The Crowd recognizes noteworthy accomplishments by people in the CDGA coverage area. Prospective candidates for Aces In The Crowd may be submitted via e-mail to info@cdga.org or aparker@golfweek.com.

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» ASK THE DOCS Hip resurfacing may be a better alternative for younger players Question: In a recent article in Chicago District Golfer pertaining to hip resurfacing as opposed to hip replacement for golfers, it wasn’t clear under what general circumstances hip replacement would be preferable. Could you comment further or recommend additional reading as resource material? Answer from Dr. Scott Sporer: First, a little background on hip resurfacing for readers who may not have seen the article referenced. Hip resurfacing utilizes a device that has been widely used in Europe for more than a decade. With a hip resurfacing prosthesis, the metal surface of the hip ball fits into a metal socket in the pelvis, creating low friction and low wear. It’s an alternative to conventional hip replacement, where the surgeon removes the top of the thigh bone and replaces it with a metal stem and a metal or ceramic ball. Hip resurfacing preserves more of the thigh bone and can be a good alternative to total hip replacement for younger patients. Now, back to your question. Hip resurfacing is a great surgical procedure for the appropriate patient. This type of patient should be younger with excellent bone quality who has

osteoarthritis. This procedure is not indicated in patients that have severe deformity to their hips, severe leg length inequalities or in patients that have poor bone quality. While I believe hip resurfacing is a great option for the younger person since it preserves bone, total hip replacement remains an excellent option. There are no studies that would suggest hip resurfacing is superior, and there are advantages and disadvantages with both. Editor’s note: This information is intended only for general public education and is not intended to serve as a substitute for direct medical advice. It should not replace necessary medical consultations with a qualified orthopaedic physician. For more information about Dr. Sporer and the sports medicine physicians of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, call 877-632-6637 or go online at www.rushortho.com.

» NAMES IN THE NEWS Guthrie breaks record LUKE GUTHRIE, OF QUINCY, shot a course-record 61 in the first round of the Northeast Amateur at the par-69 Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford, R.I. Guthrie, a senior at the University of Illinois who ended his junior year ranked No. 13 in the final college rankings by Golfweek magazine, carded a 31-30, which opened a five-stroke lead. He broke by one stroke the previous course record set by Michael Harris in 1998. Guthrie finished the event tied for 13th with a 61-71-72-70—274. During the 2010-11 season, Guthrie won four tournaments and was named a PING First Team AllAmerican.

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For more information, please visit our Web Site www.rushortho.com/golf or call 877 MD BONES.


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» TOURNAMENT UPDATE FEATURED PLAYER

Andrew Gabelman, Barrington •

• If money, membership status and travel were no object, what golf course would you love to play? I am thinking of a couple

When and how did you pick up the game? I picked up the game when I was six years old. I just love it. My dad taught me, and he played a lot of golf. • What is your greatest golf memory? Qualifying for the State Am for the first time at Bull Valley. It was a hard day and a long day. I think I made a 9 on the 15th hole, so, it felt pretty good to make it. • Dream foursome? I would play with my wife, Katherine, our son, Benjamin, and my dad, Jim, The Chief.

• What do you enjoy most about playing tournament golf?

The competition. It’s nice to compete when you have to. I’ve scaled back a bit, I probably only play in about six or seven tournaments throughout the year now. FEATURED COURSE

Ruth Lake Country Club NESTLED AT THE INTERSECTION of Kingery Highway and 63rd Street in Hinsdale, Ruth Lake Country Club is a par-71 layout stretching to 6,691 yards from the championship tees. Originally designed in 1922 by William B. Langford and Theodore Moreau, the course was restored and updated in 2005 by Arthur Hills. The private facility will serve as host to two regional championships this season, the Chicago Women’s District Golf Association Championship and the CDGA’s 39th Husband

pretty good places right now. I have two in mind, but I’ll go with Pine Valley Golf Club in Pine Valley, N.J. It’s just a great place.

• Thoughts on the game of golf? The game really is life, right? It kind of defines it and who you are as a person. Not so much what you shoot, but whether you have integrity, whether you’re a gentleman, and whether you can control your emotions. It kind of mirrors life. FEATURED TOURNAMENT

and Wife Championship. The golf course itself boasts five signature holes on the back nine, the last of which is a par-3 finishing hole over water. The hole can be played as short as 121 yards from the front tees and stretches to 215 yards from the championship tees. With a small green bunkered from nearly every direction, players are forced to execute one of their finest shots of the day from the tee. A short miss over the water is playable, but if a player places his or her tee shot on the green, there is a good chance they’ll be circling a 2 before heading to the clubhouse.

Husband & Wife Championship ‘TIL DEATH DO US . . . PAR? Entries are

RUTH LAKE C.C.

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now being accepted for the 39th CDGA Husband & Wife Championship, to be played on Thursday, Sept. 22 at Ruth Lake Country Club in Hinsdale. The event, which tees off with a 12:15 p.m. shotgun start, utilizes a combined stableford scoring system with the use of each player’s current Handicap Index. Players need not worry about their other half’s poor play as every couple will be competing in both a gross and net division. Points will be awarded based upon teams’ scores in relation to par on each hole. The team with the most points in each division after 18 holes wins. The $300 entry fee per couple for the event includes golf, access to the practice range, cart, a luncheon before the round and cocktails and heavy appetizers following the completion of play. For more information or to enter, visit cdga.org/tournaments. The 2010 Husband & Wife Championship winners were David and Becky Roscich for the gross division and Robert and Beverly Heinzel for the net division.

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FACILITY FOCUS

Ironwood Golf Course

Modern MARVEL W

Ironwood provides just the right mix of modern development and challenge to keep the city dwellers coming back for more By Tim Cronin

hen Chicago native Roger Packard began to design Ironwood Golf Course in 1988, he had several things on his side. The veteran architect already knew the Bloomington-Normal area, having co-designed Crestwicke Country Club with his father, Larry, in the previous decade. He also knew how to route a course through a housing development, having worked with his father on the famed Innisbrook development near Tampa, Fla., where townhomes and condominiums blend seamlessly into the 63-hole complex. Packard also had one major challenge to deal with: the course’s location. How does someone designing a golf course situated next to an interstate highway shield it from the constant racket? For the most part, Packard answered that question. Only three holes, plus the

18th tee, are on the property immediately north of Interstate 55 on the north end of Normal. The rest of the municipallyowned layout is either behind housing or tucked behind fescue-covered berms that help to absorb the noise. They also absorb more than a few golf balls. The design thus coaxes as much serenity as can be obtained from a modern development course—until a player tries to score on it. That high fescue and some challenging green complexes, a trademark of Packard, father and son, combine to generally raise scores. “When you walk off the golf course, you think you should have shot three or four shots better,” head professional Craig Onsrud said. “The wind here is a pretty good protector of par.” He’s not kidding. The BloomingtonNormal area sits only a few miles south

PHOTOS BY BUZZ ORR

The second hole at Ironwood Golf Course.


FACTS AND FIGURES ADDRESS: 1901 N. Towanda Ave., Normal, Ill. PHONE: 309-454-9620 WEBSITE: golfironwood.org GREEN FEES: Range from $19 (walking 18, weekday mornings) to $37 (with cart 18, weekend mornings). CDGA TOURNAMENT: U.S. Amateur Public Links qualifier WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW SIGNATURE HOLE: The par-3 16th features an island green and plays anywhere from 143 to 220 yards. More forgiving than the famous 17th at TPC Sawgrass, it’s still a daunting task to hit the right club when the wind is blowing.

of one of central Illinois’ ever-growing wind farms, their big blades spinning almost continuously, and their blinking red lights casting an eerie glow in the night. There’s a reason the local crowd nicknamed the course “Ironwind” in the early days, before the houses filled in and the trees grew. Packard took the prevailing west and southwest winds into account when fashioning the 7,100-yard, par 72 layout. Seven holes, including three of the last four, work their way west or southwest, with the 18th turning to the northwest. As he worked his way through the subdivision—only one lot of 600 remains unoccupied—Packard found room for a handful of holes that would play at a crosswind. The course’s reputation for being difficult to score on has held since its 1990 opening. Even now, the course record from the blue tees—the original back tees at 6,530 yards—is just 65, and the record from the blacks, fully 7,100 yards out, is 67. “We could stretch it to 7,200 if necessary,” Onsrud said. Most players tee it up from 6,530, and that’s plenty, given the possibility of playing out of the fescue on the next shot. The light stuff lines most fairways, with the heavier stuff farther off line and around the greens, often no more than 15 feet off the putting surface. Only the left side of the second hole is fescue-free, which means keeping the ball in play, and taking a bit less club is the way to negotiate Ironwood safely. The spray hitter should not worry, for AUGUST 2011

he would really have to work at it to hit a house. Virtually every hole has a wide berth between fairway or green and someone’s backyard. “And our trees are maturing after 20 years,” said Onsrud, in his sixth year at the course. “They’re starting to give the holes more definition.” Ironwood’s pretty busy, even considering the national downturn in rounds played. The course is holding steady at about 25,000 rounds annually, and doing so in a market with five other public courses in Bloomington and Normal, plus attractions like El Paso Golf Club to the north, Pontiac Elks just up Interstate 55 to the northeast, and Peoria’s courses about an half-hour to the west. League play accounts for some of those rounds, but most of it comes from regular play. “We’ll play 12 months of the year if we can,” Onsrud explained. “The Bloomington-Normal market supports golf really well. We’ve got five good public golf courses and they’re supported. The economy has changed, but BloomingtonNormal is lucky in that we’ve got a big hospital, Illinois State University, and insurance, in State Farm and Country Companies.” The price doesn’t hurt either. Weekends with a cart, it’s $37. Onsrud says when Chicagoans who call about playing Ironwood are told that, they often say, “And how much for the cart?” It’s a bargain at any price. Superintendent Rob Hale, a central Illinois native who worked at Blackwolf Run before coming to Ironwood, has sped up

WHERE A BOGEY GOLFER CAN MAKE BIRDIE: At 331 yards the shortest par 4, the 18th, gives everyone a shot at a 3 if a big drive stays out of an equally large bunker complex in the landing area, and the second shot is on the right level of the green. WHERE A SCRATCH PLAYER FIGHTS FOR PAR: The par-4 14th plays 440 yards from the back tee, a dogleg right with an arm of a lake chewing at the elbow of the fairway. Play safe to the right or left, and you’ve got a longer shot into a green guarded by a bunker hugging the left side. Have we mentioned the fescue? EXTRA BALL INDEX (ON A 1-10 SCALE): 6 or 7 when the wind is up and the fescue is very much in play. LOCAL KNOWLEDGE: Advises pro Craig Onsrud, “Don’t be chasing back pins. The greens are going to be firm, and the fescue is mostly in the back of the greens.” — Tim Cronin

the greens and improved the quality of the bluegrass fairways, partly through the installation of a new irrigation system. If the attraction of the course isn’t enough, there’s also the wildlife. Ironwood boasts the usual species, and last October, a special guest. A reader of the Bloomington Pantagraph told the paper that a rooster settled under some blue spruce trees in her backyard. The neighbors didn’t need an alarm clock for a month or so, and the rooster scooted about the course occasionally. His presence was proof Ironwood has a good deal to crow about. Tim Cronin covers golf for the Southtown Star. CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 15


DESTINATION

Fairs and Festivals | Louisville, Ky.

Stretch run There’s no shortage of attractions for visitors to Louisville, and those include some of the state’s best golf courses By Rich Skyzinski

KENTUCKY BOURBON FESTIVAL LOCATION: Bardstown, Ky. DATES: Sept. 13-18 WEBSITE: kybourbonfestival.com TUCKED AWAY IN THE countryside, Bardstown, Ky., is a historic town featuring shops, restaurants, museums and distilleries. The Bardstown area has been a focal point of the bourbon industry since 1776, so much so that Bardstown is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. In celebration of the drink that gave the town its claim to fame, The Kentucky Bourbon Festival annually attracts more than 50,000 visitors to partake in delicious food and drink, great entertainment and fine Kentucky hospitality. Numerous activities are available for all ages, including barrel-making demonstrations, private bourbon tastings, historical and distillery tours, a family fun area with games and bourbon-style cooking lessons. This year’s theme is Bourbon Rocks. A highlight of the festival is The Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting Gala, a bourbon fan’s dream. The black-tie event is a signature of the festival and features bourbon sampling from eight distilleries, mingling with master distillers and a bourbon-inspired gourmet meal. — Amy Parker

Louisville Slugger Museum

or more than 125 years, Louisville’s F most famous attraction, the Kentucky Derby, has drawn worldwide attention on the same traditional date: the first Saturday in May.

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The city is packed with visitors, there’s not an available hotel room within 50 miles and a weeklong festival atmosphere is the result of a long list of activities planned in the days leading up WWW.CDGA.ORG


to what track promoters like to call “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” from a popular road race to hot-air ballooning. Autumn in northern Kentucky is just as pleasant, however, and it’s far easier to make reservations, whether they are for a favorite restaurant or golf course.

DAY TWO

Quail Chase Golf Club, located just south of Louisville, offers 27 holes. After the South and West nines opened in 1989, the East was added just two years later and did nothing but

Club winds through a large residential development. It was opened in 1996 as a private club, but now it operates as a semi-private facility under the direction of Jack Ridge, a former president of the Kentucky PGA and a 2004 inductee into

Kearney Hill Golf Links

DAY ONE

WEB: bardstowncountryclub.com derbymuseum.org AUGUST 2011

PHOTO BY JONATHAN PALMER

PHOTO COURTESY LOUISVILLE SLUGGER MUSEUM

Bardstown Country Club is one of the most popular facilities in town. It claims to be the only 36-hole country club in the state, and already has been improved from the original design that David Pfaff created just 16 years ago. The Maywood Course was labeled by Golf Digest as one of the country’s top new courses when it opened in 1995, but in 2004 Spencer Holt, who worked under noted golf course architect Arthur Hills, upgraded many elements. Now it has been joined by the Woodlawn Course. Attending the Kentucky Derby ought to be on the bucket list of every sports fan, but if that’s not possible—and veteran Derby patrons might suggest attending only with a ticket for a reserved seat in hand—the next best thing is a tour through the museum that’s adjacent to the track. It’s a highlight reel from each of the race’s 137 runnings, and stories of legendary thoroughbreds and jockeys unfold in a variety of ways. Visitors also have the opportunity to take a 90-minute tour of Churchill Downs, one of America’s most iconic sports venues.

enhance Quail Chase’s reputation. The East certainly is the most challenging of the three nines; it’s longer, water comes into play more freqently and right off the bat the long par-4 first is one of the more challenging openers a golfer will see. Many Louisville players believe this is one of the area’s best values and with good reason. In the peak of summer, the green fee with cart often can be had for $40-$45. Also situated in the southern Louisville suburbs, Glenmary Country

the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame. The course presents its share of challenging shots, but also is forgiving in places, so feel free to be aggressive when the opportunity arises. WEB: quailchase.com glenmarycountryclub.com DAY THREE

Cedar-Fil Golf Course in Bardstown, a shortish layout—it’s just 6,000 yards from the back set of markers—is perfect CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 17


overpowering—from the tips it plays to a manageable 6,650 yards—but it winds over gently rolling terrain with some pleasant views.

magazine has ranked Heritage Hills as high as No. 3 on its list of best public courses in the commonwealth. In the geographic area known locally as

PHOTO COURTESY KENTUCKY DERBY MUSEUM

for beginning players or those who prefer not to be intimidated by forced carries, hazards that run up the entire right side of holes or steep-faced bunkers. The course is generally wide open on the first nine and there are few hazards to contend with; hills come into play more on the back. Green fees often are less than $20. One of the city’s most pleasant diversions is a tour of the downtown factory that has produced the famed Louisville Slugger baseball bats since the late 1880s. A fascinating 30-minute tour is available daily and visitors are even able to purchase, among other memorabilia, a personalized bat. WEB: sluggermuseum.org DAY FOUR

Pine Valley Golf Resort in Elizabethtown is an all-encompassing facility good enough to attract the Ben Hogan Tour for two years, in 1990 and ’91. It also was tight enough to get the best of John Daly, who withdrew after an opening-round 77. On-site lodges built recently make Pine Valley an attractive group destination, especially with some golf packages that include unlimited play. The course isn’t

Kentucky Derby Museum

Designed by Doug Beach, who had previously worked with the Jack Nicklaus design company, Heritage Hill Golf Club in Shepardsville has received numerous accolades since it opened in 2007. Golf Digest included the course in its top 10 best new public courses in 2008, and Golfweek

Otter Creek Golf Course

PHOTO CREDIT

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PHOTO COURTESY PINE VALLEY GOLF RESORT

Pine Valley Golf Resort

Kentuckiana, one local media outlet tabbed the 220-yard, par-3 seventh as the toughest hole. This is one of the more popular daily-fee facilities in the Louisville area, though a policy that makes carts mandatory undoubtedly rankles some players. Though it’s a drive of about an hour from Louisville, Kearney Hill Golf Links in Lexington is in the discussion of the state’s best public courses and certainly good enough to merit the extra effort to get there. It’s the only course in Kentucky to have held more than one USGA championship. The U.S. Amateur Public Links was played there in 1997 and won by South Africa’s Tim Clark in the first USGA final between foreignborn players since 1910; he defeated Japan’s Ryuji Imada. A decade later, Kearney Hill also was the site of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. The course, designed by the acclaimed Pete Dye and opened in 1990, is an outstanding value. Green fees generally stay at $50 or less and it’s an enjoyable tour. The site is mostly open with very few trees. But the wind rarely is not a factor. WEB: pinevalleygolfandresort.com

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SHORT STORY STO RY Though small in stature, Hinsdale’s Jeff Sluman won a major title and made it big on tour

By James Raia

eff Sluman’s career always has been about consistency and routine, but now the 1988 PGA Championship winner believes change is good too. More than three decades into his career, and as he further settles into the Champions Tour, Sluman no longer will approach his golf season the way he has for the past 25 years. Based in Hinsdale, a western suburb, Sluman, 53, has purchased a second home in Southern Florida for the first time. Inclement winter weather in Chicago did not allow Sluman to practice, which he viewed as a forced benefit. The downtime also allowed for more family time and more opportunity to pursue his passionate support of the Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls. But, the Slumans have friends in Florida and now will embrace the improved winter weather and travel more in the U.S., rather than the family’s former yearly international treks.

J

GETTY IMAGES

CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER: Of

20 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

your six individual wins on the PGA Tour, five came either in the year you turned 40 or after, which is a bit out of the ordinary. What is the reason you were a better player as you got older?

I was a later starter, anyway. I just felt more comfortable JEFF SLUMAN:

with my game and a little bit more confident. I don’t think it was anything more than that. CDG: You have won twice on the Champions Tour at Pebble Beach and finished second there twice, including at the 1992 U.S. Open. You’ve often said it is your favorite course and that you have played it more than 125 times. Why is your game so conducive to such strong play at Pebble Beach?

There is just something about it. You get really excited when you get there. It is such a great golf course. Every golfer in the world who has stepped on that first tee at Pebble, well, I just like the history of things like that, being at Winged Foot and Augusta or there. I think that is the motivation to play well.

JS:

CDG: Have you secretly taken a special pride in beating players who have outdriven you for 18 holes?

Unless you are the longest guy on Tour, someone is going to outdrive you. So, I have never really thought of it that way. You know the old saying, “Drive for show, putt for dough.”

JS:

CDG: It has been reported you have

2,000 bottles of wine in your collection. Do you have an absolute favorite and particularly one that may be inexpensive? JS: I haven’t replenished as much lately,

so it is probably only 1,600 or 1,700 bottles now. I guess it depends on the definition of inexpensive. But there is a Spanish wine called El Nido Clio that is about $40 a bottle, and is unbelievably good. I pretty much have everything I want in my cellar, except a Romane Conti. I guess I would have to sell half the house to get a case of that, so I’m not quite willing to do that. CDG: Your family usually takes an

exotic vacation trip. How did the tradition begin? JS: We try to plan a family trip somewhere once a year. Last time, we were originally scheduled to go to Kenya, WWW.CDGA.ORG


but we didn’t do that. We went to Egypt and up the Nile. And we have been over to Dubai and up the inner passage of Alaska. Last year, we were planning on going overseas, but honestly, just the way the world is and the way the economy is, we decided to take nice vacations in the United States. There are still plenty of places we have not been to.

one. You can’t really have a mediocre round and end up winning out here. Those are probably the biggest things. CDG: The overwhelming majority

of Tour players never get a chance to realize what it is like to win a major. How do you explain the feeling of accomplishment to someone who has never experienced that?

contend in a major. I didn’t even know what was happening. I wish I would have enjoyed it a little more, looking back on it. But I was just in the moment. It wasn’t anything ‘crazy.’ I don’t know how to explain it any differently than that.

Without sounding funny, it was my first win and I was kind of on autopilot that week, especially on Sunday. I drove it good, hit the irons good. I did everything you are supposed to do to JS:

CDG: Before you bought your second

home in Florida, you lived year-round in Illinois (Hinsdale). Do you think your game suffered by not being able to practice year-round as you would be able to do if you lived in a warmweather climate? JS: No. I think it actually helped living in the same place because you have designated time off, instead of getting stale and thinking that you have to practice. And then when I do start up, I work hard on my fundamentals and stuff like that. So, overall, I think it has really been a good thing. CDG: More golfers have become active in social networks. Are you on Facebook or Twitter? JS: No. I am not involved in that at all, and do not plan to be. CDG: You have been a member of the

PGA Tour policy board. How would you describe the level of general policy interest and involvement by your constituents (i.e., other players)?

I think every player should have interest in it. It is our Tour. It’s how we make our living. A lot of players are interested in it, and a lot of them are not and leave it to someone else to oversee it. I am now on the Champions Tour policy board and I enjoy it.

JS:

CDG: Now that you have

been on the Champions Tour for a few years, can you detail the biggest differences, in your opinion, between the two circuits? JS: I think the biggest thing is that

AUGUST 2011

AP PHOTO

you play 54 holes and you have to be ready to make birdies from day

CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 21


Truly GRAND AND Founded with a comforting, steady hand 100 years ago, Westmoreland Country Club hasn’t lost its touch

By Tim Cronin

D

rive along Old Orchard Road to the east, past the Old Orchard shopping center, and glance to the north. A golf course can be glimpsed between the old trees and, atop a hill, there’s a clubhouse that seems to come from another time and place. At Westmoreland Country Club, which celebrates its centennial this summer, that is precisely the idea. The clubhouse’s Williamsburg-era style harkens to a time a century-plus before the club’s 1911 incorporation, but the look is so perfect, the club has gone to great lengths in the past generation to preserve it. One could pull up under the porte-cochere in a horse and buggy in the early evening, candles flickering in the clubhouse, and not feel out of step. Likewise, Westmoreland’s golf course is of another time. Designed by William Watson, tweaked at various times by A.W. Tillinghast and William B. Langford, and sympathetically renovated by Arthur Hills, it’s a layout that stretches only to 6,827 yards at its tips, but must be handled with kid gloves. Westmoreland, with green complexes that match in severity the speed of the greens themselves, cannot be charged. This is old-fashioned golf at a high level. Consider the course record, 8-under-par 63. It’s a common enough number for a course record. Except Westmoreland’s one and only 63 was scored by Bob Harris in 1960 and hasn’t been matched since, holding up for more than half the club’s history. Current head professional Hans Larson came within a stroke three years ago, joining pro Errie Ball and amateur Tull Monsees, a Westmoreland legend, in doing so. Lest this sound as if Westmoreland is stuck in the past, the opposite is in fact the case. Few clubs are more forward thinking. Rather than subject itself to the whims of club members, Westmoreland long ago instituted policies that govern the clubhouse’s furnishings, the golf course’s design, and even the plantings around the clubhouse. Within those policies, the club has in the last 20 years renovated its pool, its tennis complex, rebuilt its kitchen, and has updated everything else 22 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

worth updating. The result is a cohesive melding of past and present across three floors of the clubhouse and 124 acres of rolling land, which is a beehive of activity from dawn to dusk six days a week. Six tennis courts are available, along with a competitive inclub program of events. Along with tennis, the club boasts a three-pool complex, dining and a large calendar of activities, including paddle tennis in the winter, drawing families and social members. In some ways, the golf course is the icing on Westmoreland’s cake. “They’ve done a terrific job in upgrading the club,” said Monsees, an 11-time club champion. Longtime member Bill Boyd was deeply involved with many of the physical improvements, including the selection of interior designer Larry Peabody over five other candidates. Peabody, who graduated from furniture design to interiors over the course of his career, saw the Williamsburg exterior paired with a hodgepodge of interiors when he arrived to scout the club. “In his presentation, he only talked about what he could do to return the Westmoreland clubhouse to its once-grandeur, and that it was worth doing,” Boyd recalled. Peabody was a unanimous choice, and recommended a complete remodeling of the building’s interior, plus some external touches to fix previous renovations that took away from the colonial character of the Merritt Moorhouse-designed edifice. Peabody even designed the new birdhouses on the club grounds. Everything had to fit. “He insisted we look for a landscape designer, he helped select one, and we still have them,” Boyd said. Peabody was a consultant until he died, and a successor with the same design concept is used today. Likewise, Hills was not just here and gone when renovating the golf course. He makes near-annual visits to suggest improvements, whether it’s moving a bunker or eliminating trees. “When I joined in 1973, the course was not the strong suit out here,” said Ed Clissold, Westmoreland’s WWW.CDGA.ORG


PHOTOS BY BUZZ ORR AND WESTMORELAND CC

Though it’s been updated by, among others, Arthur Hills (center photo), Westmoreland has gone to great lengths to preserve its style and grandeur.

president when Hills was brought in. “But now we’ve got a golf course that’s top-notch, has a lot of character and it’s because we’ve made a lot of evolutionary changes over the years with Art.” Hills has reworked Westmoreland without rerouting the course. Watson’s original corridors remain. Hills’ changes were generally subtle. “It’s a member’s golf course where, because of the confined space, you’d never have a U.S. Open, but it serves 99 percent of the golfers beautifully,” Hills said. Some things haven’t changed. The blind second shot on the par-4 third hole, for instance. Players aim at the railroad signal high above the third green—a posthumous gift from member Larry Provo, a railroad executive—when the light is green. If it’s red, there’s a group on the green. Westmoreland is the direct offspring of Evanston Golf Club, back when the club was leasing land roughly where the Govern Memorial municipal course is today. With the crush of urban development threatening to move north of Northwestern University’s lakeside campus, Evanston’s board appointed a committee to find a new site, one it could own. The committee not only found a site in AUGUST 2011

old Gross Point (which is now Wilmette), but went forward with plans to buy it. To do so, it had to form a new club. With it came a new name: Westmoreland, as in, “west for more land.” The decisions were made and the new club was incorporated in 1911, and that anniversary is being celebrated by the club this year. The course itself, the first original design of Watson in Illinois, wasn’t ready for play until July 1, 1913. (The remaining Evanston members hung on at the old site until moving to Evanston’s leafy abode on Dempster Street in Skokie in 1919.) The lack of modern length precludes big tournaments, but back in the day, Westmoreland hosted the Western Open (won by Jim Barnes in 1917), the Western Amateur (Chick Evans triumphed in 1921) and the U.S. Women’s Amateur (captured by Patty Berg in 1938), along with a Red Cross match in 1918 featuring Chicagoan Elaine Rosenthal and the Dixie Kids: Bobby Jones, Perry Adair and Alexa Sterling. More recently, Westmoreland has been host to U.S. Women’s Open qualifying. The quality of the course, the camadarie of the membership and the club’s progressive nature, combined with a respect for its past, have come together to keep Westmoreland’s membership rolls healthy in a time when many other clubs are facing challenges. It’s a place where visitors who have shot a high score want to linger. One hundred years from now, it likely still will be. Tim Cronin covers golf for the Southtown Star and is the author of “Westmoreland Country Club: The First Century.” CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 23


TEEING OFF WITH

Raymont Harris

The learning curve Raymont Harris takes on golf with the same zeal and determination that drove his NFL career By Amy Parker THE SHORT GAME WITH

Raymont Harris AGE : 40 HANDICAP: 14 BEST ROUND: 78 EQUIPMENT: Callaway X22 irons, Odyssey

Mallet putter KNOWN FOR: Twice was the leading rusher for the Chicago Bears. CURRENT OCCUPATION: Director of

Athletics Development at Ohio State DREAM PAIRING: Tiger Woods and Phil

Mickelson

F

ormer Chicago Bear Raymont Harris certainly knew his way around a football field. But hand him a golf club and he readily admits he still has a thing or two to learn about the game that has him hooked. Harris graduated in 1993 from Ohio State University, where he set the school record for most rushing yards in a bowl game and finished his college career as the fifth-leading rusher of all time (currently eighth). He was drafted by the Bears prior to the 1994 season and was part of the starting backfield for four seasons, leading the team in rushing twice. Along with achieving numerous career highs, he also dealt with a few injuries along the way, leaving the Bears to sign with the Green Bay Packers in 1998. After a season with the Packers, he

24 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

Raymont Harris

took a year off to rehabilitate and tried to make a comeback with the Broncos and Patriots in 2000. He retired from football in 2001. Despite the injuries that plagued Harris during his career, his competitive drive never left. But now, he’s transferred that to golf. “First of all, I love golf,” Harris said. “It’s my absolute favorite thing to do. In terms of hobbies, this is No. 1. Unfortunately, I never played golf until I got into a scramble once I joined the NFL. . . . I swung a few times and

had a couple of good hits, but mostly everything was out of bounds. But all it took was just a couple good hits and, bam, I was hooked. “Being such a competitive person, it’s one of those things you can do by yourself, compete against yourself and not need another friend or person to go with you. The competitive nature of golf is what draws me to it every single time I go out.” Although Harris has played one sport at the highest competitive level, picking up golf proved to be much WWW.CDGA.ORG


more difficult. Harris grew up playing baseball and football but came to realize the fundamentals in those sports, swinging harder or running faster, didn’t have a place in golf. He has found, however, that a few basic elements, such as concentration and focus, can be beneficial in either sport. “A lot of players play golf because it’s so competitive and it’s a game that’s not natural to us,” Harris said. “So once you’re able to master it, there’s a huge sense of accomplishment. You really have to understand that you’re not going to be at the highest competitive level. That would be a PGA Tour player. I do not have the time to be a PGA Tour player, nor the skills and ability that would necessarily translate from football. So, I understand and I get that. But there are a lot of guys that are delusional and really believe that the Champions Tour is for them and they may be pretty good, but there’s such a difference from someone who’s a great

AUGUST 2011

club champion to being on tour.” After getting hooked at that initial Bears scramble, Harris sought a bit of professional instruction and has set moderate goals along the way. “I try to be realistic,” he says. “I only have a certain amount of time to devote to this sport as it fits into my life with kids, a job and having a life. So being able to get to a single-digit handicap is my goal, first and foremost. It’s going to take a while; I’m around a 14. But, there’s a big difference from 14 to 9, as I’ve begun to learn.” Harris also has found that his strength lies in his putting, which he says can really keep him in the game. He has the least confidence with a driver and, in fact, occasionally will go an entire round without pulling his driver from the bag, instead selecting a fairway wood or 3-iron. He has no problem with distance and is happily becoming more and more comfortable with his game.

“As I get older and more comfortable with my game, I understand it,” he says. “I am happy shooting low 80s. I’m very content with that, it makes for a good day, but it does not quell the thirst to want to go 79, 78, 77. So, until I’m able to practice more often, I’ll be content shooting a score that’s relative to where my handicap is.” A breakthrough moment and Harris’ fondest memory in golf occurred the first time he broke 80. He was in Canton, Ohio, playing with a friend, and he remembers coming up on the 18th hole, realizing that he needed a double bogey or better in order to break 80. He parred the hole and shot 78, earning bragging rights with his friends. As for his competitive nature? It’s always been a part of him. “I was born with it,” he said. “I’m just wired that way, and it’s helped me in many ways, career-wise. The competitive nature of golf is what draws me to it every time I go out.”

CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 25


NEW KID ON THE BLOCK Metamora Fields Golf Club opens and the Ring family’s vision of a new central Illinois course comes to fruition By Greg Stewart

D

espite cautionary signs from all corners, the idea of building a new golf course had a nice ring to it for one central Illinois family. And when a feasibility study conducted in 2007 didn’t exactly produce a ringing endorsement, Jim Ring and his family nonetheless decided to move forward with their dream of building an 18-hole championship golf course in the heart of Woodford County (near Peoria). “It suggested a very marginal prospect for success,” Ring said of the study’s conclusion. “It almost said, ‘Get out!’ ” his wife, Carol, added. “A flashing red light,” mentioned their daughter, Vicki. So what made this Germantown Hills family move forward with plans to build a new course in an economy that was unfavorable for golf long before it was unfavorable for most everything else? “We just wanted to do it,” said

Ring, who sold his Roanoke, Va.based business National Wheel-OVator to a German company in 2007. “My daughter (Vicki) had a desire to be involved in golf for several years. Metamora needed something like this and when we could get 250 acres in the middle of the village, it seemed to be ideal for what we wanted.” Metamora Fields Golf Club, privately owned but open to the public, opened nine holes on June 17. The second nine, where four holes were delayed by a wet fall and spring that washed out some seeded areas, opened in July. During a depressed period when more golf courses are closing than opening, Metamora Fields is one of two golf courses in Illinois opening in 2011. The other is Fyre Lake National, a Jack Nicklaus design in Sherrard (near the Quad Cities) that was scheduled to open in mid-July. Metamora Fields, which will play to a par of 71 and, if desired to nearly 7,100 yards from the back tees, was designed by D.A. Weibring and built by Peoriabased Turf Solutions Group. In addition to 18 holes, the development includes a 25-station practice range and an upscale clubhouse of nearly 30,000 square feet. Based on the recommendation of a family friend, Weibring was chosen over noted architects Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Dick Nugent.

“We e-mailed (Weibring) on Friday, he called on Saturday and was here on Monday,” Ring said of the Illinois State alumnus’ quick response to their inquiry. “He was right here and we were very impressed with him.” Converted cropland, the 200 acres of golf course now shimmer with color. Shades of verdant green, exploding from different strains of bent, blue and ryegrass, illuminate the land. Native grasses such as heather and fescue frame the emerald fields with metallic hues of gold, bronze and copper. “This was a fun project for us,” said Weibring, the Quincy native who also designed the TPC at Deere Run and the Illinois State University course that now bears his name. “Working with a local group like Turf Solutions and the Ring family, I was excited about coming back to Illinois to do something.” From a design standpoint, the course features a signature Weibring look of closely mown runoff areas around the greens. Without any significant natural features, the property presented a blank canvas to the design team. “You could call it a heathland style of golf course, which is a links course inland,” Weibring said. “Creeks running through the course, bentgrass fairways and greens, bluegrass rough, pot bunkers. “It will appear to have a links feel, but incorporates some old-style golf with

Metamora Fields opened its second nine in mid-July. 26 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

WWW.CDGA.ORG


FACTS AND FIGURES ADDRESS: 801 W. Progress Street, Metamora PHONE: 309-367-4000 WEBSITE: metamorafields.com GREEN FEES: Monday through Thursday, nine

holes, $20 (walking) or $25 (with cart); 18 holes, $30 (walking) and $40 (with cart). Friday through Sunday, nine holes, $25 (walking) and $30 (with cart); 18 holes, $40 (walking) and $50 (with cart). Prices do not include local sales tax. A weekend round with cart is $53.63. STAFF: Dwight native Dan Budzius is the general manager. Jeff Roche, formerly head professional at WeaverRidge and men’s golf coach at Bradley University, is the director of golf. Mary Moan, women’s golf coach at Bradley University, is director of instruction. NOTABLE: The course features a 25-station hitting range with eight target greens and a short-game practice area. The clubhouse can seat as many as 400 for weddings, banquets and special events. QUOTABLE: “People are going to be excited to

play out here. There is enough of a challenge for the best players and it sets up pretty fair for everyone from a novice to a pro,” said superintendent Ryan McCavitt.

unique views and water features throughout the golf course. It’s playable for anyone who wants to come play, but also has a championship feel to it as well.” Greg Stewart is a sports writer for the Peoria Journal Star.

PHOTO BY RON JOHNSON

AUGUST 2011

CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 27


ILLINOIS

State Amateur

Room at the top

When this year’s Illinois State Amateur Championship visits the 100-year-old Glen Oak Country Club, it will be without two of its top three finishers from last year

R By Len Ziehm

arely has the Illinois State Amateur Championship been a more wide-open affair than it figures to be for the 81st staging at Glen Oak Country Club in Glen Ellyn. Last year’s tournament at Beverly Country Club was won—by a sevenstroke margin, no less—by Deerfield’s Vince India, a University of Iowa golfer who went on to become this year’s Big Ten Player of the Year. He posted a stunning 10-under-par 274 for the 72 holes at Beverly. “The State Amateur was the springboard to the great fall season I had,” said India. “It’s weird in golf, you can hit a hot streak and keep going for a while. Everything came together for me at the State Amateur and it stuck around for a few months.” India didn’t use the run of good play as an excuse to turn professional, but it will—in a way, at least—keep him from defending his title. The success at Beverly led to more good play in the succeeding months and that led to some attractive playing opportunities this summer. The most enticing was the World University Games in China. The Illinois State Amateur is Aug. 9-11. India leaves for China on Aug. 10, so a title defense is out of the question. Instead, he’ll spend about 10 days in China, then get back in time to play in the U.S. Amateur. “I’m playing amateur golf this summer through the U.S. Amateur, then I’ll see 28 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

Glen Oak Country Club

WWW.CDGA.ORG


AT A GLANCE where my game is,” India said. If he deems it good enough, he’ll enter the professional ranks then. Burr Ridge’s Bennett Blakeman, who tied for second with Blake Johnson of Winnetka last year at Beverly, couldn’t wait to make his decision to turn pro. He had qualified for the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, then finished work on a master’s degree in business and health care management at Loyola University. Qualifying for the U.S. Open and playing as well as he did at the State Amateur was enough to convince Blakeman that he should give professional golf a shot. He headed for his family’s winter home in Arizona, played

on the Gateway Tour there while making a swing change and then qualified for this year’s U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. The decisions of India and Blakeman assured this year’s State Amateur would be without two of the top three finishers from 2010. Still, the field at the State Am always is strong, and this year is no exception after the field was determined from 10 statewide qualifying rounds. The group that shows up at Glen Oak Country Club will find a club that’s anxious to show off its course and celebrate. Glen Oak is marking its centennial this year. Glen Oak, one of the 25 charter

WHAT:

81st Illinois State Amateur Championship WHEN:

Aug. 9-11 WHERE:

Glen Oak Country Club, 21W451 Hill Ave., Glen Ellyn FIELD:

Approximately 132 ELIGIBILITY:

Open to amateurs who are Illinois residents with a Handicap Index not exceeding 7.4. QUALIFYING SITES:

Sanctuary GC, New Lenox University of Illinois GC, Savoy Schaumburg GC, Schaumburg PrairieView GC, Byron Crane Creek GC, Kilbourne Franklin County CC, West Frankfort Seven Bridges GC, Woodridge Marengo Ridge GC, Marengo Cinder Ridge GC, Wilmington Highland Park CC, Highland Park FORMAT:

72 holes stroke play (18 holes each on Aug. 9 and 10, and 36 holes on Aug. 11). If there is a tie for the lead after 72 holes, a three-hole playoff will follow. If, after this playoff, there is a tie for the lead, play will continue on a hole-by-hole basis. CUT:

After 36 holes, to the low 30 and ties, plus anyone within 10 strokes of the lead. FUTURE SITES:

2012, Kokopelli GC, Marion 2013, Aldeen GC, Rockford 2014, Cantigny Golf, Wheaton

PHOTO COURTESY GLEN OAK CC

PHOTO CREDIT

AUGUST 2011

member clubs of the Chicago District Golf Association, hasn’t been host of an event as significant as the Illinois State Amateur in quite awhile, but it was the site of the Western Open way back in 1915, when Tom McNamara covered 72 holes in 304 strokes to beat Alex Cunningham by two. The club grew out of Pickwick Country Club, which was created in 1909 and had a nine-hole course designed by Tom Bendelow, who designed tons of courses in the early 1900s, among them Medinah No. 3. William B. Langford, a charter member of Glen Oak, directed the design work that led to the present 18 holes. Other architects who put their touches to varying degrees on the CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 29


2010 champion Vince India won’t defend his title

PHOTO BY FRANK POLICH

layout over the years were Theodore Moreau (1922), A.W. Tillinghast (1935), David Gill (1965), Ken Killian (1983) and Bruce Borland, who devised a long-term renovation plan that extended from 1989-96. “But it hasn’t changed much in 100 years,” said current head professional Danny Mulhearn. “In my 12 years we’ve added tees for more length and bunkers in key landing areas to make the course more difficult.” Listed at 6,851 yards, the course is by no means long, but it carries a 72.1 course rating and 128 Slope rating. The small, tricky greens are its trademark. Mulhearn holds the course

record with a 9-under-par 63 posted in 2005. The club had some strong players as its head professional before Mulhearn arrived. Harry “Lighthorse” Cooper was a force in the early years of the PGA Tour. Steve Benson was one of the best in the Illinois PGA ranks before moving to Hillcrest, and he was recently selected to the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. Terry Carlson, who had a fling on the Champions Tour before moving to Arizona, was Mulhearn’s predecessor and an assistant to Mulhearn, Matt Slowinski won the Illinois PGA Match Play title in 2008. Despite the course’s modest length, Mulhearn doesn’t see the State Amateur players tearing his course apart. “Our course seems pretty tame,” he said. “There’ll be a good round here and there, but seldom do people get to it in the amateur and professionals we’ve had.” Mulhearn says driving the ball in the fairway will be the key to success at the State Am, and predicted the last three holes, “a phenomenal finishing stretch,” will present a stern challenge. “The 16th will probably play between 205 to 245,” he said. “The 17th anywhere from 465 to 500 as a par 4. It’s a par 5 for members. And the 18th is always a challenge at 430 yards with its uphill tee shot.” Len Ziehm is recently retired after a long career covering golf and other sports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Park District of Highland Park’s

Sunset Valley GOLF COURSE

Reserve your tee time website: www.SunsetValleyGolfCourse.orgg phone: 847.432.7140 in-person: 1390 Sunset Rd, Highland Park, IL Take Deerfield Rd east, right onto McDaniels Ave, right onto Court Ave

GOLF COURSE

Playing anywhere else is a hazard. 30 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

WWW.CDGA.ORG


PLAYERS TO WATCH BRAD BENJAMIN

Rockford — Left handed golfer tied for medalist in U.S. Open sectional qualifying at St. Charles and then made the cut at Congressional. His biggest moment so far was a victory in the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, a win which qualified him to play in last year’s Masters.

TODD MITCHELL

Bloomington — This insurance executive is always a contender in state competitions. He won the Illinois State Amateur in 2002 and 2003 and was a 13-shot winner of this year’s Illinois State Mid-Amateur at Flossmoor, his third title in that event. He also partnered with Steve Sawtell to win all three points in his Radix Cup match. JOHN EHRGOTT

Peoria — A former pro, Ehrgott has been a consistent contender in Illinois events and partnered with Andy Mickelson to win all three points in his Radix Cup match. This veteran has previous wins in the Illinois State Public Links and Illinois State Mid-Amateur. He tied for ninth in this year’s State Mid-Am.

JOHN WRIGHT

Aurora — Winner of the Illinois State Public Links title in 2000, 2008 and this year at Foxford Hills, Wright tied for 19th in last year’s Illinois State Amateur and tied for sixth at this year’s Illinois State Mid-Amateur. He also was a qualifier for the U.S. Amateur Public Links, thanks to his third-place finish in the qualifier at Village Links of Glen Ellyn. ANDY MICKELSON

Lockport — Another sparkplug for the CDGA amateur team’s win in the Radix Cup, Mickelson was runner-up at the CDGA Amateur, tied for sixth in U.S. Open local qualifying at Oak Grove and won the Joliet Amateur at Wedgewood for the third time. He also tied for fourth in last year’s Illinois State Amateur.

AUGUST 2011

CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 31


32 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

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PHOTOS BY FRANK POLICH

Medinah’s famed No. 3 Course was offered up for the championship match.


Special

his approaches in the same front bunker, making bogey on the first and third attempts at the 383-yard par 4. “It’s a tough golf course,” said Mickelson. “You had to be so exact, so precise. In the playoff, if I’d hit my (approach) just a yard further it’s 2 feet from the pin instead of going down into the bunker.” Instead, Mickelson ran his bunker shot 5 feet past the cup and missed the par-saver. English two-putted for par from 15 feet and the 8 hours and 42 minutes of competition were over. A month earlier Mickelson and English were in a duel for the Joliet Amateur title. “We played in the last group and were in a playoff there, too, but I was able to beat him,” said Mickelson. “He’s a tough player. He’s younger than I am and hits it further than I do, so I’ve just got to find a way to get it into the hole.” Mickelson did that until the very end. English was 2-up after three holes, but Mickelson won three times between the fourth and seventh to take the lead. He was 2-up after another good stretch in the afternoon round before English mounted his comeback. He was 1-down after making birdie at No. 15 and a par on 18 was good enough to win that hole after Mickelson slipped on a 6-iron approach, leaving him a 90-yard third shot

PRIVILEGE

Having lost to Andy Mickelson in a playoff a month earlier, Kyle English prevailed in the rematch to make it a special ending to the CDGA Amateur

T By Len Ziehm

he 92nd CDGA Amateur Championship took an unusual twist. The championship match was played on a different course than all of the preliminary competition, but no one was complaining. Medinah Country Club played host to the tournament, and the 36-hole stroke play qualifying competition was to be played on its Nos. 1 and 2 courses. The match-play portion, to determine the champion, was scheduled for just the No. 1 layout, with the club planning to keep the famed No. 3 Course rested for the 2012 staging of the Ryder Cup. After the stroke play qualifying for the 47 finalists, however, Medinah officials offered No. 3 for the final match. That layout had undergone another major renovation since it was host of the 2006 PGA Championship in preparation for the Ryder Cup. “It’s in the best shape it’s ever been in during my eight years here,” said director of golf Mike Scully. “Curtis (Tyrrell, Medinah’s director of grounds) has done a terrific job.” Scully thought the chance to play No. 3 would be “an incentive” for the 16 players left in the tournament, and he was right. Though neither of the finalists had ever played the No. 3 Course, both welcomed the change in venue for their 36-hole showdown in the oldest amateur tournament in the Midwest. “I didn’t care if I’d seen the course or not,” said Bloomington’s Kyle English, who emerged the champion. “Playing Medinah No. 3 was very special. It was in perfect shape and had perfect greens. We got a little preview of the Ryder Cup. It was a lot of fun out there.” Runner-up Andy Mickelson, from Lockport, agreed. “I was excited when the chance (to play No. 3) came up,” he said. “It was awesome. I loved playing that golf course. I don’t get a chance to do something like that very often. It was a thrill and an absolute treat.” English, 20, a junior at Florida Gulf Coast University, and Mickelson, 29, a merchandise manager for a Lisle packaging company, waged one of the most competitive finals in the championship’s rich history. English, two holes down with four to play, fought back to force extra holes and then won it with a par when the players visited the course’s first hole for the third time. That hole wasn’t friendly for Mickelson. He put all three of AUGUST 2011

CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 33


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on the par 4. English was left 70 yards for his third after his drive found a bunker, but he saved par from 5 feet after Mickelson missed from 6 feet. The switch in courses worked against Mickelson, who made 11 birdies in winning his quarterfinal and semifinal matches the Andy Mickelson day before on Medinah No. 1. “I felt really comfortable on No. 1. It had the same look as Joliet Country Club, where I’m a member,� said Mickelson. “It was a solid test of golf and neutralized the bombers, being 6,800 instead of 7,200, like No. 3. But I would never have given up the opportunity to play No. 3.� Mickelson, who qualified fifth, eliminated medalist John Watson, IV of Con-

way Farms, 3 and 2, in the semifinals. Watson paced the 16 match play qualifiers with a 5-under-par 138 over the Nos. 1 and 2 courses. English, who plays out of Crestwicke Country Club and was the 14th seed, eliminated No. 2 seed Casey Pine of Prairie Vista, 2 and 1, in the semifinals. English’s three matches prior to the final all ended on the 17th hole. The four semifinalists earned exemptions for the 81st Illinois State Amateur Championship, to be played at Glen Oak in Glen Ellyn from Aug. 9-11. Len Ziehm is recently retired after a long career covering golf and other sports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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HEAD

of the class Connor Black claims the legendary Western Junior title and plans to follow in the footsteps of the greats who have come before him By Rory Spears

onnor Black, 15, used the motivation of a bad start to his third round to rally and win the 94th Western Junior Championship at Beverly Country Club by two shots. Black, who lives in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston, held a two-stroke lead after two rounds. It disappeared early in round three when Black made two bogeys and fell into second place. Then, he missed a 4-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole that would have tied him for the lead. Black then kicked his game into high gear, making birdies on the next three holes. He would never trail again in the 72-hole event en route to a winning score of 1-over-par 285. “I started out tentative,” Black said. “Then I knocked it close on six but missed the putt. The next hole I hit it to 2 feet and made birdie. That got me on a roll.”

C

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Black is the number one-rated prospect in the nation from the high school class of 2013, which is why coaches of four Division I colleges in Texas, as well as other southeastern schools, were in his gallery. With an audience like that, it’s easy to see how a 15-year-old could have a tentative start. Black still has plenty of time to make up his mind about college. He has made five campus visits but still is gathering information about schools he is considering. He says he will wait another year before making a choice. One decision he has made about his education is that he will leave the high school he was attending and return to being homeschooled. While most junior tournaments do not allow parents to caddie, the Western Junior does. As a result, Black WWW.CDGA.ORG


After Connor Black negotiated the par-5 18th hole at Beverly Country Club (left) for the final time, he went off to collect the rewards of victory.

“The Western Amateur is a great tournament,” Black said. “Maybe the best amateur tournament besides the U.S. Amateur.”

CHUCK CHERNEY/WESTERN GOLF ASSOCIATION

him another present.” Having his dad as his caddie seems to be good luck for Black, but it left his dad with both feet full of blisters when the tournament ended. “It means so much having my dad caddie,” Black said. “I won several high school tournaments this year, but my last big win was when I was 12 years old. I won the U.S. Kids World Championship, where my dad caddied for me. I can’t say enough how good it is to win a big tournament, at a higher level, with him as my caddie.” The Black family plays both at The Houstonian Club and at Redstone, the home of the Houston Open on the PGA Tour. “The Houstonian has held the Nationwide Tour Championship, and the LPGA Championship in 2009,” Black said. “It’s a great course, links style, and the wind blows every day. I think it’s one of the most windy places

was happy to have his dad, Harvey, a Houston lawyer, on his bag. “I guess (winning) is kind of a late Father’s Day present for him,” Black said. “We have been on the road a few weeks, so when we get home I will get AUGUST 2011

in Texas. That helped me this week when it got windy here.” Black credits the Dick Harmon School of Golf that he has attended since he was 8 in helping him develop his game. He also saw another professional this year who has guided him through swing changes. With his Western Junior win, he feels the hard work and changes are paying off. Although some kids just enjoy hitting the long ball on the range when they practice, Black likes spending most of his time at or around the putting green. “I would rather spend six hours putting instead of bombing balls all day,” says Black. “My putting and my short game are what I consider to be the best part of my game. My long game is getting better and was a bit shaky here in the final round. My short game is what allowed me to hang in there. I had 100 putts of about 5 feet this week and I feel like I made almost all of them.” Black says he’s honored to have his name engraved on the Milt Woodard Trophy, alongside current tour standouts Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler and Jim Furyk. He also has two other players from Texas he looks up to. Cory Whitsett of Houston, the 2008 Western Junior champion (now playing at University of Alabama), is someone Black calls an influence and friend. He also follows 17-year-old amateur Jordan Spieth, who has had two great showings as an amateur at the Byron Nelson. If the tournament directors at the Nelson, Colonial, Houston Open or Texas Open have a sponsor exemption they would like to give out, Black would gladly take it. In the meantime, he is hoping to play the Western Amateur at North Shore in August. “The Western Amateur is a great tournament,” Black said. “Maybe the best amateur tournament besides the U.S. Amateur.” The future for Black is certainly bright. Rory Spears is a freelance writer who has covered golf in Chicago and the Midwest for 27 years. CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 37


GEMS OF THE CDGA

The 15th hole at Kenosha Country Club Racine, Wis. he 15th at this Donald Ross-designed course is the number one handicap hole for good reason. It requires a solid drive, a better approach shot and leaves a tricky putt regardless of the distance from the cup. The tee box is elevated and leaves a drive that must carry an angled creek. The carry is 170 yards at the left side of the fairway, and ranges up to 185 yards on the right. With out-of-bounds right, and the longer carry in play, many tend to favor the left side of the fairway off the tee. Once a player gets over the creek, the real work begins. The approach shot will make or break scores on this hole. The fairway sits down, well below an elevated green, and the walk up from the fairway to the green is straight uphill. Then, 15 yards of fairway sits between the front of the hill and the green. Shots that just get over the front of the hill don’t make the putting surface. A mound that guards the right front of the green can kick a shot left, onto the green, or off right, into the bushes or OB. The front part of the green slopes left to right, but an approach shot headed to the left side of the green must clear a big, overhanging branch that can deflect balls back down the hill to the fairway or thick left rough. Where the approach shot is placed is important because the 15th hole has the biggest putting surface on a course that has mostly small greens.

T

Par 4 YARDS

TEE

430 427 423 423

Blue White Gold Red

— Rory Spears

38 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

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BUZZ ORR/CDGA

AUGUST 2011

CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER | 39


RULES OF THE GAME

Going green

D

The putting surface is a location where the actions of players frequently go awry

uring the course of 18 holes, golfers spend a lot of time on the putting green. So it comes to reason that a fair number of rules infractions take place here, too. Here’s a look at some of the more common problem areas.

ball to fall into the hole. Rule 16-2 states that when any part of the ball overhangs the lip of the hole, “the player is allowed enough time to reach the hole without unreasonable delay and an additional 10 seconds to determine if the ball is at rest. If by then the ball has not fallen into the hole, it is deemed to be at rest.” At this point, the player should tap the ball into the cup because subsequent waiting may bring a penalty stroke for undue delay.

• Tending the flagstick.

• A ball stops on the edge of the hole

Players will go to virtually any length to try to get the ball to drop, including waving their hand back and forth in an effort to create enough wind to nudge the ball forward, or casting a shadow on the ball, believing this will cause the grass to wilt and thereby allow the

40 | CHICAGO DISTRICT GOLFER

• A ball at rest is moved

This generally happens in one of two ways: when a player is making a practice stroke and he accidently gets the clubhead too close to the ball, or a player prepares to putt and the ball moves before the player makes his putting stroke. In the first scenario, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke (Rule 18-2) and the ball must be replaced. In the second example, Rule 18-2b says, “If a player’s ball in play moves after he has addressed it . . . the player is deemed to have moved the ball and incurs a penalty of one stroke. The ball must be replaced unless the movement of the ball occurs after the player has begun the stroke or the backward movement of the club for the stroke and the stroke is made.” It also is important to note that wind is not an outside agency. So, in a scenario where a player marks and replaces his ball on the green, then goes to look at the line of the putt, only to see that wind has blown the ball to a new location, that’s the luck of the draw and the player, at no penalty, should play from where the ball has come to rest. Cross your fingers that new location is closer to the hole. GETTY IMAGES

A player may elect to have the flagstick attended for any stroke, regardless of where the ball is located. There is no stipulation that says a player’s ball must be on the green in order to have the flagstick attended. However, at all times, the player’s ball must not strike the flagstick when it is being attended, removed or held up (Rule 17-3). The penalty is two strokes in stroke play or a loss of hole in match play. Typically, a player chooses to have the flagstick attended simply to indicate the position of the hole. One error frequently made by new players is that they putt with an unattended flagstick that hasn’t been removed from the hole. Rule 17-3 states, in part, “The player’s ball must not strike . . . the flagstick in the hole, unattended, when the stroke has been made on the putting green.” The reason behind this is the flagstick could act as a backboard of sorts, assisting a ball that otherwise has been struck too hard. The rules permit this only for a stroke that is made from a place other than the putting green.

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Chicago District Golfer August 2011  

The August issue of Chicago District Golfer recaps 92nd CDGA Amateur Championship, previews the 81st Illinois State Amateur Championship and...

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