Len Ziehm On Golf

Here’s two couples — and four Illinois PGA club professionals

The number of men among the PGA of America’s 29,000 members far outnumber the women. That’s no secret, and the number of married couples working in the business as PGA members isn’t very big either. It’s under 100 nation-wide.

What might be surprising out of that segment of the golf industry, though, involves two married couples who are both Illinois PGA members. In both cases the wife is a better player than the husband.

In one case there’s no question about it. Katie Pius, assistant professional at Biltmore Country Club in Barrington, is one of the best players in the section, man or woman.

“She’s just a better golfer than I am, plain and simple,’’ said her husband Josh Pius, head professional at Inverness. “She’s a talented player.’’

The playing disparity may not be as clearcut for Jennifer and Cory Ferrell, but Jennifer has been in more competitive situations. As Jennifer Broggi she was one of Illinois’ best amateurs when she was in high school at Naperville North and college at Illinois State. She turned pro after finishing up at ISU in 2002 and kept competing for awhile.

“When I got out of college I spent three winters in Florida,’’ she said. Ladies PGA headquarters is in Daytona Beach, so Florida was a good place to test her skills at a higher level.

“It wasn’t awful, but I honestly decided after getting a reality check,’’ she said. “I tried it, and it wasn’t my cup of tea.’’

The Ferrells met through the PGA’s training program and married in 2007. While they have no children, they’re both deeply involved in working with young players.

While Jennifer isn’t playing in many tournaments theses days, she isn’t completely out of the competitive side of golf. She has been the assistant coach of the girls team at Glenbard East High School since 2007.

“The season is short – just six-eight weeks, and I do enjoy it because it brings back memories of college,’’ she said.

Cory, completing his seventh season as head professional at the nine-hole Sugar Creek course in Villa Park, has 400 youngsters between the ages of 6-13 in his youth program there. He also works with Revelation Golf, a program that provides therapy through golf to military personnel.

Cory, born and raised in Maryland, grew up in the golf business. His father is a lifetime PGA member, and Cory was head pro at both Maple Meadows, in Wood Dale, and Seven Bridges, in Woodridge, before coming to Sugar Creek. He also was a teach pro at Old Oak, in Homer

Jennifer is more deeply involved in golf than just through high school coaching. She’s head professional and division manager at Glendale Lakes in Glendale Heights.

Neither of the Ferrells feel that working in the same industry presents unique problems.

“It’s no different than two teachers or two police officers,’’ said Cory. “Golf is just different because of the goofy hours.’’

Katie and Josh Pius also met through golf, when Josh was in the midst of a five-year run as an assistant professional at North Shore Country Club in Glenview and Katie was an assistant at Westmoreland, in Wilmette. They’ve been married for five years and are in their sixth seasons on their current jobs.

“I had always said I’d never marry a golf professional because I knew the hours they work,’’ said Katie, “but then I met Josh.’’

Josh grew up in Michigan and spent two years as a head professional in Wisconsin before coming to Inverness. They have two children, Betty 3 ½ and Millie, 1. Their clubs are just a few miles apart, and that’s a big help.

“There’s a lot of (time) coordination there,’’ said Josh, “but I don’t consider it difficult. I know what she’s going through, and she knows why I’m going through, so we support each other throughout the season. It’s nice having someone who understands what you’re going through.’’

“I don’t work full-time – just seasonally and part-time,’’ said Katie, who is one of three assistants working with head man Doug Bauman at Biltmore. “That’s the only way this would work. The kids are in day car on the days when I work, and we visit Josh sometimes.’’

Katie does some teaching and runs the women’s leagues at Biltmore while retaining her status as the best woman player in the section. She plays in most of the section tournaments while Josh is limited basically to what he calls “the silly season,’’ when the events are more on the social side. They make an effort to play one nine-hole round together ever month.

“Obviously I’d like to play more,’’ said Katie. “This year is the most limited my schedule has been, but I hope to get more competitive once the kids get a little older.’’

TRAVEL NOTEBOOK: Here’s what’s happening at some of our favorite destinations

The Four Seasons Golf & Sports Club in Orlando, FL., will again host the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions — the first event of the 2020 LPGA season. It’ll be played Jan. 13-19 and a new event, the Bainbridge LPGA Championship, will follow on Jan. 23-26 at Boca Rio, in Boca Raton, FL

U.S. golf options – for the next few months at least – will be reduced as winter weather transitions into most of the country. That doesn’t mean that interesting things aren’t happening at many of our favorite places, however.

Here’s a sampling of what’s been going on at some of the most popular American golf destinations and what they’ll be offering in 2020:

REYNOLDS LAKE OCONEE – Few places have been making as many positive changes as this 99-hole resort in Greensboro, Ga., which is roughly midway between Atlanta and Augusta.

An 18-month renovation of the resort’s premier course, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Great Waters, has been completed and a multi-million dollar transformation of The Ritz-Carlton hotel is now in the works, setting the stage for an exciting 2020 season there.

“The transformation that our resort will see over this next year will redefine luxury in Georgia,’’ said Ralph Vick, the hotel’s general manager. Luxury guest rooms and suites and the club lounge will be impacted in this latest phase of the renovation.

Jack Nicklaus had another big year. In addition to completing a well-received renovation of Great Waters at Reynolds Lake Oconee his design at Florida’s Reunion Resort also got a long-overdue clubhouse.

AUDUBON TRAIL — Louisiana’s already impressive golf trail is growing. Three new courses have been added, bringing the total number of member courses to 18.

The new additions are LaTour, in Mathews; Oak Knoll, in Hammond; and Koasati Pines at Coushatta Casino Resort, in Kinder. LaTour is a David Toms design.

TPC Louisiana, best known of the other courses on the trail, now has new grass surfaces thanks to a $2 million enhancement project. It’ll continue as host of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

PINEHURST – The Manor Inn has re-opened after an extensive renovation. It’s the youngest of the North Carolina village’s three historic hotels.

Manor Inn opened in 1923, which pales in comparison to the Holly Inn (1895) and Carolina Hotel (1901). All of Manor Inn’s interior was renovated, with only 15 percent of the interior framing remaining.

The resort has also announced that it will host both the Boys and Girls High School Golf National Invitational for the second straight year in 2020. The girls version will feature 216 players and be contested from June 24-26 and the boys, with 324 players, will run from June 29-July 1. Both will be 54-hole tournaments with the girls using the Nos. 6, 8 and 1 courses and the boys competing on Nos. 6, 8 and 5.

The course with the most interesting story to tell in our 2019 travels was at Royal New Kent in Virginia — an outstanding creation by the late architect, Mike Strantz. The course made a great recovery after having been closed for eight months following a series of ownership changes.

MYRTLE BEACH – There’s never a slowdown at MB. The sixth annual Preseason Classic, a two-person 54-hole team event, will be played over six courses from Jan. 26-29.

Myrtle Beach will also have a notable new look, as 11 of its premier courses will go wall-to-wall green in 2020. Founder’s Group International has overseeded its courses, ensuring that players will enjoy lush green grass throughout the winter and spring. Those courses include TPC Myrtle Beach, King’s North at Myrtle Beach National, Pawley’s Plantation, Long Bay Club, World Tour, the Palmetto and Pine Hills courses at Myrtlewood, Wing Win Avocet, Tradition Club, River Club, and Willibrook Plantation.

In another new development MyrtleBeachGolfTrips,com has released the results of an anonymous survey of over 50 of the area’s PGA professionals in an effort to provide an answer to the frequently-asked question – Which of the area’s courses is best?

The Dunes Golf & Beach Club, a Robert Trent Jones Sr. design was the clear No. 1. There’s sure to be more debate, though. Rounding out the top 10, in order, were Tidewater, Grande Dunes, Prestwick, TPC Myrtle Beach, True Blue, the Fazio Course and Dye Course at Barefoot Resort and King’s North.

Myrtle Beach’s best? The area’s club professionals accorded The Dunes Club that honor.

FRENCH LICK – Cold weather may preclude golf at this southern Indiana resort for awhile, but things are looking up inside. The Valley Tower, a 71-room hotel, and the Valley Bar, both opened in November. They are part of a $17 million addition geared toward providing guests more options.

The additional rooms will supplement the existing 686 guestrooms at French Lick’s two historic hotels. French Lick Springs has 443 rooms and West Baden Springs has 243. Valley Bar will be the resort’s only 21-and-over eating establishment.


While the PGA of America is working on an eventual moving of its headquarters it’s winter home in Port St. Lucie, FL., is becoming a busy place. PGA Golf Club hosted the PGA Assistants’ Championship in November and landed two other big championships for the future.

PGA Golf Club will host the PGA Boys and Girls Junior Championship from July 13-31 of 2020 and the PGA Professional Championship in 2021.

“What’s significant about this and for everyone affiliated with the PGA Golf Club is that the facility will complete the circuit of hosting every PGA of America member championship,” said Jimmy Terry, senior director of PGA Golf Properties.

Ground-breaking was held on Oct. 18 at the PGA of America’s eventual new headquarters in Frisco, TX. It came 10 months after the projected move from Palm Beach Gardens, FL., was announced. The construction timetable calls for golf course construction to be finished in the fall of 2021, play starting in the spring of 2022 and the grand opening of the overall development in June, 2022.

The Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club will share hosting duties with the Wanamaker layout when the PGA Professionals Championship comes to the Port St. Lucie resort in 2021.


The Sheep Ranch, newest course at Oregon’s Bandon Dunes, is scheduled to open on June 1. The design team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have been creating a par-71, 6,785-yard layout. Coore-Crenshaw also designed Bandon Trails and Bandon Preserve in the golf hotbed.

Construction has begun on the 10-hole Hilltop Short Course at Forest Dunes, in Roscommon, MI., with an opening expected in the spring.

Premier club fitter Club Champion has announced the opening of new facilities in Richmond, VA.; Hartford, CT.; Louisville; Houston; Birmingham, AL., Scottsdale, AR.; and Grand Rapids, MI. And another will open soon in Omaha, NEB.

The PGA of America has announced a nationwide series of 12 clinics in connection with the KPMG Women’s Championship. The first is April 27 at El Niguel in Laguna, Niguel, Calif. The tournament proper is June 23-28 at Aronimink, in Pennsylvania.

Sailfish Point, a premier private club on Florida’s Hutchinson Island, has scheduled three major charity events – the United Way Tocqueville Society Benefit on Dec. 12, the Hibiscus Luncheon on March 2; and the Florida Oceanographic Society Fundraiser on March 29.

Sailfish Point is one of the best of Florida’s private clubs that gets involved with charitable causes.

Broken Sound, in Boca Raton, FL., has been the traditional site of the PGA Tour Champions’ season opener. In 2020, however, the tournament will be played in the fall as one of the circuit’s playoff events.

North Carolina’s Grandover Resort, which has two quality courses, is the site of many festivities connected to the PGA Tour’s nearby Wyndham Championship.

Rochester is the best bet for golf getaways in New York

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – There are good reasons why Rochester should come to mind when you consider golf destinations. After all, the legendary player Walter Hagen grew up here and one of the most prolific course designers, Robert Trent Jones Sr., was not only born in Rochester but his very first design, Midvale, is also within the city limits.

Then there’s the venerable Oak Hill Country Club in suburban Pittsford. Its East Course is a Donald Ross design that dates back to 1901. The course has hosted three U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships (a fourth one is coming in 2023), two U.S. Amateurs, two Senior PGA Championships, one U.S. Senior Open and the 1995 Ryder Cup. The LPGA has played several of its majors at another Rochester club, Locust Hill.
Chicago’s own Jeff Sluman also developed his game in Rochester before becoming a fixture on the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions.

Golf in Rochester, though, is about a lot more than major championships, top players and course designers. The Rochester area is also a great place to visit just for the purpose of just playing golf. Not only are there plenty of good courses, they’re also affordable and the distance between them is manageable.

Those are some big pluses, and they weren’t lost on Rod Christian, who created the New York Golf Trail. Christian’s trail is the largest in the country in terms of courses (34). He has divided it into eight regions and, he says, “the most popular of the regions is right here (in Rochester).’’

Four of his New York Trail courses – The Links at Greystone in Walworth, Ravenwood in Victor, Bristol Harbour in Canandaigua and Mill Creek in Churchville – are around Rochester and they also form the Finger Lakes Golf Trail. If another course is needed to accommodate those trail packages 27-hole Deerfield, in Brockport, gets the call.

Christian operates his trail in regions to facilitate travel for participating golfers. That sets New York apart from many of the other trails, most notably the more well-known Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama.

“There’s a lot more driving on that trail,’’ said Christian. “Rochester is a great place to work with. Here you plant yourself in one (hotel) location and there’s no more than a 20- to 30-minute drive to the courses.’’

The best course on our visit was a trail course — The Links at Greystone, a facility owned and operated by the Odenbach family. Its top greens fee is $67 – a bargain given the quality of the sport course with intriguing elevation changes.

Golf has been a labor of love for three generations of the Odenbach family, who opened a quarry and mining business in the Rochester area in 1920. Using equipment from that business, the Odenbachs built three courses between 1979 and 1995, sold them in 2000 and then bought them back 16 years later. They now operate two of the courses with family members playing a variety of lead roles.

Brothers John and Gardy Odenbach own The Links at Greystone. John’s son Alex is general manager and Gardy’s son Dusty is the director of golf. John’s wife Julie, a well-known high school coach of both boys and girls teams in the area, oversees the gardening and floral arrangements at the course.

“Our family tree is large here,’’ admitted Dusty Odenbach. The superintendent, Tim Hahn, may as well be a family member, too. The son of a one-time superintendent at famed Oak Hill, Hahn has been at Greystone since it opened.

“Golf started as a sidelight for us,’’ said John Odenbach. “There was always a lot of ground around our quarries, and my Dad (also named John) loved to build golf courses.’’

The Odenbachs ventured into golf by building Shadow Lake in Pennfield in 1979. It’s a 27-hole facility with Pete Craig the designer. Craig was also the designer of Shadow Pines, which was built nearby several years later.

Craig Schreiner, who worked with the Hurdzan Design Group, collaborated on courses with tour players Larry Mize and Nick Price and produced his own designs in 10 states. The Odenbachs hired him to create the Greystone Golf Club.

“At that time there were about 40 golf courses in and around Rochester,’’ said John Odenbach. “Now there’s about 80, so there’s lots of competition.’’

In 2000 the Odenbachs sold everything – the quarry business and the three golf courses — to Old Castle Materials, an Irish company, to settle a family estate. Family members, though, continued to run both the quarry company and the courses.

Four years ago Old Castle wanted to get out of the golf business, and the Odenbachs wanted to stay in. John and Gardy bought Greystone and another brother, Fritz, became the owner of Shadow Lake with a partner. Shadow Creek was built on land that was more valuable for development rather than golf. It is now a park.

Since the re-acquisition the family has re-branded Greystone, and that included the name adjustment.

“Originally there was a lot of traditional links-style to it,’’ said Dusty Odenbach. “We’ve made several improvements to enhance the links roots. We took out a lot of trees and added a starter’s hut on the first tee.’’

Ravenwood is good, too, and probably a better tournament course. It has hosted the New York State Amateur twice and its top green fee is $65 in the summer months. Mill Creek, in Churchville, has one of the longest public facilities in the area at 6,861 yards from the tips, and its top fee if $50.

The city of Rochester has 12 golf facilities within its borders and three are municipally owned. Oldest of the courses is Country Club of Rochester, built in 1895. Like Oak Hill, it’s a private club, but Genesee Valley — one of three facilities operated by the Monroe County Department of Parks — has two seasoned 18-holers. One opened in 1899 and the other in 1925.

The Rochester area has other attractions that are also appealing – especially if you schedule your visit during the annual Rochester International Jazz Festival. It keeps the downtown area hopping with its series of free concerts.

Of the year-around offerings, The Strong National Museum of Play most accurately bills itself as “the ultimate play destination for all ages.’’ It has the world’s largest collection of toys, dolls, board games and electronic games and its Toys National Hall of Fame honors such innovators as Milton Bradley, Walt Disney, Jim Henson and George Lucas.

Then there’s the George Eastman Museum. Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, was a pioneer in the photography and motion picture industry and the museum is housed in his mansion. It has one of the oldest film archives in the U.S. and its artifacts include the world’s largest collection of camera technology.

If you want a non-golf outdoor activity take a guided cruise down the Erie Canal on the Sam Patch, a replica of the boats that traveled in the canal after its opening in 1825.

Dining is more than ample, too. We tried out The Cub Room, which specializes in American fare but has nothing to do with Chicago’s baseball team. We also sampled the Italian dishes at Branca Midtown, the unique atmosphere of the Genesee Brew House and the wines at the Casa Larga Vineyards.

All made for a great escape but the golf was in the forefront.

Iconic Harbour Town is just one reason for golfers to hit Hilton Head

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, South Carolina – The Harbour Town Links, with its iconic lighthouse behind the No. 18 green, may give Hilton Head Island most of its international exposure, but this golf destination is more than just Harbour Town.

A lot more, in fact.

While Harbour Town — home of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage tournament — celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, the rest of the island also enhances the area’s reputation of being a golf mecca.

Harbour Town, along with Atlantic Dunes and Heron’s Point, are all part of the Sea Pines Resort. Atlantic Dunes was the National Golf Course Owners Association 2018 Course of the Year.

“We’re the drivers of why people come here,’’ said Cary Corbitt, president of the South Carolina Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association and vice president of Sea Pines, “but not everybody wants to just play Harbour Town and Atlantic Dunes – and we’re fine with that.’’

Fee to play Harbour Town generally tops $300 and at Atlantic Dune’s it’s upwards of $150. Both are extremely well-conditioned courses that draw about 30,000 rounds annually, but there’s also perfectly fine public courses nearby that charge less than $100.

Those numbers are just fine with Corbitt, who came to Hilton Head when he was in college to work as a volunteer at the first Heritage tournament (won by Arnold Palmer), returned when he was done with college in 1974 and started at Sea Pines in 1978.

“Sea Pines is a family destination resort. We’re not bashful about what we charge, but we don’t feel we’re uppity or better than anyone else,’’ said Corbitt. “The other courses help round everything out.’’

Hilton Head has 40,000 full-time residents. They benefit from the island’s beautiful beaches as well as the golf, as both attract tourists. So does the nearly 300 restaurants – many of them solidly upscale – on the property.

Lodging is more than ample with more than 6,000 villas, condos and homes on the rental market and more than 20 hotels and inns also available. Custom-built golf packages are no problem.

The non-golf attractions are also plentiful. They’re highlighted by the tennis academy at Sea Pines that is run by the legendary Stan Smith who won titles at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Hilton Head got its name because a ship owned by William Hilton first spotted the island over 300 years ago. Charles Fraser, son of one of the families that owned most of the island, started it on its way as a tourist destination when he drew up a master plan for a resort community in 1956. Hilton Head was incorporated as a town in 1983 but golf had arrived in 1962 when the Ocean Course opened.

Golf grew rapidly after that, but not without some major developments along the way. The Ocean Course was totally renovated by Davis Love III is now called Atlantic Dunes. Famed architect Pete Dye, who designed Harbour Town with consulting help from Jack Nicklaus, also is responsible for Sea Pines’ other course, Heron’s Point. That course started under the name of Sea Marsh.

Now the golf landscape is spread around. Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort has three courses on its 2,000 acres that are bounded by three miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline on one side and a sheltered Intracoastal Waterway on the other. This resort’s featured course is Palmetto Dunes, which has one hole on the ocean and was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1967. The others at the resort were creations of George Fazio (the island’s only par-70) in 1974 and Arthur Hills in 1986.

There’s also the Heritage Collection, seven courses and 81 holes spread over three clubs. Oyster Reef, a Rees Jones design with – at least arguably – the best putting surfaces on the island, is not to be missed. Sixteen courses are on the island and there’s also 13 off-island layouts close at hand.

All the courses are beneficiaries of the recently-expanded Hilton Head Island Airport. Last year it started twice weekly (Saturdays and Sundays) flights directly from O’Hare, so Chicago golfers could step right off the airplane and be on the first tee at many of the courses in a matter of a few minutes.

Even without that luxury transportation getting from Chicago to Hilton Head isn’t a problem. Many more flights are available to the Savannah Hilton International Airport, which is just 45 minutes from the island.

And then there’s the hurricanes. No doubt, they can be a problem but not even one of the strongest – Hurricane Matthew in 2016 – kept golfers off the Hilton Head courses for long.

Atlantic Dunes head professional Bobby Downs has worked in the golf industry on the island for 36 years. After 22 seasons at Palmetto Dunes he was eagerly awaiting the opening of Atlantic Dunes when Matthew struck at a most inopportune time.

“The Ryder Cup had just finished, and we (the U.S. team) had won,’’ recalled Downs. “We had a great Grand Opening and Davis (designer and U.S. captain Davis Love III) was to be here on Sunday with the trophy, but three days prior we got hit by the hurricane and were shut down for three weeks.’’

Tree damage was extensive, but Atlantic Dunes bounced back quickly, just like the Hilton Head courses have done for decades.

“In the end we were better off because a lot of trees that weren’t meant to be there after 50 years were weeded out,’’ said Corbitt.

Mission Inn isn’t one of Florida’s biggest golf resorts — but it’s one of the best

No. 17 at Mission Inn’s El Campeon course may be the toughest par-5 in Florida. It’s a double dogleg with the approach to the green requiring a third shot over a pond — plus you must either go over or around a tree in the middle of the fairway that can block a shot to the putting surface. That infuriating tree has been confronting golfers for over 100 years. That’s why the hole is called `Devil’s Delight.’

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, FLORIDA – Florida is loaded with golf courses – about 1,500 of them – and the state’s golf resorts include such famous multi-course meccas at PGA National, PGA Golf Club, Bay Hill, TPC Sawgrass, Innisbrook and Doral.

In contrast, Mission Inn Resort & Club on the outskirts of Orlando has just two courses but, make no mistake, it is as special a place as any of the others.

Mission Inn is just a bit different. It has one of the Sunshine State’s oldest courses, now called El Campeon, that is rich in history. Its companion course, 27-year old Las Colinas, isn’t exactly new but is a nice complement to El Campeon, which dates back to 1917.

As old as El Campeon is, the layout still holds up just fine in top-level amateur tournaments. That’s rarely the case for layouts of similar vintage, but El Campeon is the tougher of the two Mission Inn layouts. Both are well-conditioned and used regularly for the Florida high school championships. They’ve also hosted many, many college tournaments, U.S. Golf Association qualifiers and small professional events.

The par-3 eighth is the most historical hole on El Campeon. It’s the only hole that has maintained its same spot in the rotation since the course opened in 1917.

Mission Inn’s big tournament resume is surprising, considering that neither course permits walking except in extraordinary circumstances. They’ve just withstood the time as good shot-making tests for measuring which player is the best on any given day or in any give competition.

El Campeon’s history is extraordinary. George O’Neil, a Chicago teaching pro who dabbled in course design, created the course for William Howey – a citrus magnate who wanted something to entertain some of the visitors to his estate that was built just before World War I.

O’Neil is known more for his teaching than his architectural efforts. He gave lessons to such luminaries as former President Warren G. Harding, Charlie Chaplin and John D. Rockefeller. Golfing greats Harry Vardon and Chick Evans also were tutored by O’Neil.

The fifth hole is the shortest of the four par-5s on the Las Colinas course.

The 6,300-yard course was originally called Chain O’ Lakes and there was no grass on its greens from its opening in 1917 until 1938. The putting surfaces consisted of well-oiled sand and the rest of the course, without the benefit of irrigation systems, was unkempt. Visitors stayed at the Bougainvillea Hotel until it burned down in 1920.

A Scottish architect, Charles Clarke, refurbished the course while the Hotel Floridian was built to replace the lodging lost in the fire. The course continued as an attraction and its players included Ben Hogan, Patty Berg and Babe Zaharias before Nick Beucher bought the facility in 1964 and gradually transformed the place into a Spanish colonial- themed resort.

The beauty of the resort provides a stunning backdrop for golfers finishing their rounds.

Beucher started a successful career as a salesman while living in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette. That came after he had fulfilled a life-long dream when he and a friend made a 39-day, 1,400-mile horseback ride from Del Rio, TX, to Mexico City. They stayed in missions along the way, and the horseback adventure led to Beucher’s renaming efforts at the resort.

The golf course, stretched to 7,015 yards, was revived and re-routed and became El Campeon. The resort and hotel became Mission Inn and it now includes El Conquistador, a fine upscale restaurant; La Hacienda, a good dining spot for breakfast and lunch; Spa Mirabella; the El Cornedor Fitness Center; a beautiful outdoor bar/gathering place called Plaza de las Palmas; and hotel segments tabbed San Angel, San Diego and San Miguel.

El Campeon has 85-foot elevation changes — some going up, some going down – on six holes and its No. 17 hole, a par-5, is one of the toughest anywhere. A double-dogleg dubbed Devil’s Delight, the green is fronted by a live oak tree in the center of the fairway and a pond. More than a few Mission Inn golfers wish that the tree would be hit by one of the hurricanes that occasionally visit the area, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Las Colinas isn’t nearly as interesting. Former PGA Tour player Gary Koch created the original design for the course’s opening in 1992 and veteran Florida architect Ron Garl made some major changes in 2007. The result is a course that is more typically resort style and user friendly than El Campeon.

This courtyard fountain is another example of the Spanish influence at Mission Inn.

The 1,100 acres that comprise the Mission Inn property contain much more than the two golf courses. There’s 30,000 square feet of conference space with 19 meeting rooms and two large ballrooms. The 176 guest rooms, suites and villas are supplemented by two lounges and a poolside bar. About 75 percent of the lodging and corporate rooms have golf course views.

Beacher passed away in 2005 at age 88 while residing in what is now the penthouse suite of the hotel. He passed on his enthusiasm for the place to his six children, however, with one son Bob the resort president and another, Bud, the vice president and general manager. Two daughters also play prominent roles in the resort’s operation.

Diners at the upscale El Conquistador are greeted by this imposing figure in a suit of armor at the front door.

The staff more recently added a significant non-family member. Roy Schindele, executive director of sales and marketing at Bay Hill, now is in a similar role at Mission Inn.

The Howey mansion and mausoleum are located across from Mission Inn but it not part of the resort property. That land, though, does include the Marina del Rey Pavilion on Lake Harris. It includes 50 slips that are used by residents and the result has two pontoon boats and one fishing boat that get heavy use in waters that are great for bass fishing.

There’s also four clay courts and two all-weather courts for tennis and two more courts for pickleball. All have lights to allow for night play. Team-building facilities, which include a rock-climbing wall, are also part of the marina area. Boat rides to Mount Dora, a quaint little town with its own unique attractions, and a short trip to nearby Tavares – the self-proclaimed “Seaplane Capitol of the World’’ – are also readily available.

The Marina del Rey provides another recreational dimension for Mission Inn guests.

Alfredsson notches another `Grand Slam’ in wrap-up to Senior LPGA season

Helen Alfredsson claims Senior LPGA trophy from Cook Company chairman Steve Ferguson.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – Winning a Grand Slam in senior women’s golf isn’t unusual. You just need to win two tournaments to do it.

England’s Laura Davies did it in 2018 and Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson accomplished the feat on Wednesday when she captured the Senior LPGA Championship on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort.

Alfredsson won the first leg of the slam when she captured the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles, in North Carolina, in May. She was a three-stroke winner in the Senior LPGA on Wednesday in golf’s last major championship of 2019 on any of the pro tours.

“It was a great feeling to win the U.S. Open and get a USGA trophy,’’ she said, “but I was most pleased with being able to do it in the and,, and being the strongest then.’’

Alfredsson’s win at French Lick came on a frigid day when temperatures dropped 20 degrees over night and winds picked up. She was the only player to finish under par, completing the 54-hole test at 2-under 214. Juli Inkster was three strokes behind in what was basically a two-player duel throughout the final round.

Inkster started the final round with a two-stroke lead and struggled with a 76. Alfredsson posted a 70 and captured a $100,000 first prize from a $650,000 purse. Davies tied for 19th in her title defense and Nicole Jeray, a teaching pro at Mistwood in Romeoville and the only Chicago player in the field, tied for 36th among the 49 finalists.

There were some other notable developments. Dave Harner, the director of golf at French Lick Resort, confirmed that the tournament won’t be played on its unusual fall dates in 2020 – and won’t have live television coverage because of it. It’ll move to late July instead, meaning both of the senior majors will be played just a month apart.

The Golf Channel gave the inaugural Senior LPGA live TV coverage with its first staging in 2017, but there was a stipulation that the event be played on weekday dates in October. Bad weather and financial considerations led to French Lick opting to move the event to the summer months.

In another notable development Lee Ann Walker was assessed what might be the biggest penalty in golf history. Walker was assessed a 58-stroke penalty because her caddie had been lining up her putts and Walker didn’t step away before making her stroke. She learned of her infraction 23 holes into the tournament and wound up being given a score of 127 for the first round and 90 for the second.

Next year’s fourth playing of the Senior LPGA will be July 27 to Aug. 1. Instead of the Monday through Wednesday scheduling of the last three years the 54-hole event will run Thursday through Saturday after a practice round and two pro-ams kick off the festivities.

Alfredsson’s win was just part of an interesting wrap-up to Senior LPGA

Helen Alfredsson takes Senior LPGA trophy from Cppk Company chairman Steve Ferguson.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – The third playing of the Senior LPGA Championship was a weird one, and that was even before eventual champion Helen Alfredsson teed off in Wednesday’s final round.

Alfreddson eventually won the senior Grand Slam, which amounts to winning just two tournaments – the U.S. Senior Women’s Open and Senior LPGA Championship. Laura Davies accomplished the feat last year, and Alfredsson completed her Slam on Wednesday with a three-stroke victory over Juli Inkster.

The temperature dipped more than 20 degrees and the wind picked up significantly on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort, but Alfredsson finished the 54-hhole test as the only player under par. Her concluding 70 gave her a three-round total of 2-under-par 214 and earned her the $100,000 first prize from a $650,000 prize fund.

Other significant developments were unfolding as Alfredsson was working her way to the victory.

Even before the second round was history Dave Harner, the director of golf at French Lick Resort, confirmed that the tournament won’t be played on its unusual fall dates in 2020 – and won’t have live television coverage because of it.

Then, a few hours before the second round was over, Lee Anne Walker was alerted that she would be assessed a big number of penalty strokes because her caddie had been lining her up on her putts on the putting surface, and she did not step away before making her stroke. The infraction, repeated frequently over Walker’s first 23 holes, wound up as a 58-stroke penalty.

After a discussion the rules officials and Walker’s penalty numbers were added up her scores were 127 for the first round and 90 for the second.

Under new rules a player cannot receive a cash payment without posting a score. In finishing last among the 78 players in the Senior LPGA field Walker received $1,390.

Walker, even without the penalty strokes, was only a minor factor in the tournament standings but the change in scheduling for next season will have long-range effects.

“We just couldn’t take the weather any more,’’ said Harner.

Next year’s fourth playing of the Senior LPGA will be July 27 to Aug. 1. Instead of the Monday through Wednesday scheduling of the last three years the 54-hole event will run Thursday through Saturday after a practice round and two pro-ams kick off the festivities.

The tourney has had weather problems. Temperatures neared the freezing level during tournament rounds in 2018 and Wednesday’s final round of this year’s event began in 47-degree temperatures and never got more than five degrees warmer than that.

There was, of course, much more involved in the schedule change than just cold temperatures. The Senior LPGA went to October because that was the only way The Golf Channel would provide live coverage. That coverage was expensive — $860,000 for this year’s playing – and the viewership (estimated at 100,000 per day) didn’t meet expectations. The cost of the telecasts cut into the charity money that long-time beneficiary Riley Children’s Hospital could receive.

So, the tournament did what few events have done in the past – proceed without TV support – and that move was not met with much reluctance by the players.

“I’m excited about it,’’ said Jane Geddes, now into her fourth month as executive director of The Legends Tour. “(The new dates) will give us a nice stretch of tournaments, which we don’t have now and the weather will be better. Kids will also be out of school. It would be nice to have TV coverage, but we also know that it’s expensive.’’

Harner plans to line up streaming for coverage of next year’s final round.

“As the tournament grows and the tour goes into more market places maybe being on TV would make more sense,’’ said Geddes. “Everyone always wants to be on TV, but is it really worth all that money to have eyeballs on that event? It’s almost $1 million. That’s the reality. We’ve been living with that on the LPGA for a long time.‘’

This year it was the last major championship for any of the pro tours. Next year the Senior LPGA won’t event be the last event of the year for The Legends. Geddes said a new event in Minneapolis will be played the following week, though she withheld details of next year’s sites.

The new dates put the Senior LPGA closer to the only other major for senior women. The U.S. Senior Women’s Open is scheduled for July 9-12 in 2020, at Brooklawn in Fairfield, Ct.. The next Senior LPGA will also come two weeks after French Lick’s other tour stop. The Symetra Tour’s annual tournament here is played on the resort’s Donald Ross Course.

As for Sunday Senior LPGA wrapup, Inkster started the day with a two-stroke lead but slumped to a 76. Most of her problems surfaced on the back nine, and they enabled Alfredsson to take control. It was a two-player duel most of the way.

Defending champion Davies tied for 19th and only Michelle McGann (69) shot a lower final round than Alfreddson.

“`I was a great feeling to win the U.S. Open (at Pine Needles in May) and get a USGA trophy,’’ she said. “but I was most pleased with being able to do it in the end, that I was the strongest then.’’

The Senior LPGA was the last of pro golf’s major championships of 2019 on any of the pro tours.

Last major of 2019 tees off today on French Lick’s Pete Dye Course.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana – This may surprise you. One of America’s professional tours still has one of its major championships remaining in 2019.

The climax to The Legends Tour season is the third annual Senior LPGA Championship, to be played on the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort from Oct. 14-16. It tends to get lost in the shuffle, and not just because it’s so late in the season. The Monday through Wednesday scheduling isn’t the norm, either, but it has enabled the circuit for women 45 and over to gain live TV coverage on The Golf Channel.

LPGA stars of the past had trouble finding tournaments until Jane Blalock created The Legends Tour in 2000. It grew slowly, but in the last few years these senior women received some long overdue signs of respect.

The Legends Championship became their premier event when French Lick’s hierarchy created it – along with a Legends Hall of Fame – in 2014. That championship is no longer held, having been replaced with a bigger and better version when the LPGA finally got involved directly with its senior circuit.

England’s Trish Johnson became the first champion of a senior women’s major when she won the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship on the Pete Dye Course in 2017.

The U.S. Golf Association, after three years of deliberation following an initial announcement, staged its first major tournament for senior women last year – the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, IL. England’s Laura Davies won that one by a whopping 10-stroke margin to conclude an emotional week that was more important for the creation of the event than it was for who won.

Since then things have been quiet on the senior women’s front. The most notable development was Blalock’s departure as executive director of The Legends Tour and the hiring of Jane Geddes as the circuit’s chief executive officer. This could be significant down the road, but Geddes has been on the job only three months and hasn’t put her plans into effect yet. In fact, she hasn’t announced even announced any of them but says she has some significant things in the works for 2020 and beyond.

The big difference is that Blalock was both the head of The Legends Tour as well as its tournament promoter.

“Janie wore two hats,’’ said Geddes, who was asked by LPGA commissioner Mike Whan to take the job. “There was no governing body. I am the governing body, with no conflicts.’’

Blalock may still create tournaments for The Legends, but Geddes takes a broader approach for the circuit.

“I look on it as the Legends experience more than the Legends Tour,’’ she said. “We’ll have camps, travel trips. We don’t play (tournaments) week in and week out, but we can have pro-ams or challenge events, excursions or clinics. We’re a great group of women who bring great value. It’s fun to watch us play, and we have the ability to interact. That’s what my era does best.’’

Like Blalock, Geddes was a top LPGA player who has competed in both the Senior LPGA Championship and U.S. Senior Women’s Open. She took a different path after her full-time playing career wound down. Geddes spent time working for the LPGA, then – armed with a law degree — she left to become chief of staff in professional wrestling.

“It was very fun,’’ she said. “The wrestlers are sports actors. I was there four years, and it was a 24-hour job. I wanted to get back into golf.’’

So now she’s back, and how she transforms The Legends Tour next year will largely determine the circuit’s future.

For now, though, the show is all about the estimable Laura Davies and her supporting cast in the third Senior LPGA. The purse will be $650,000 with the champion receiving $100,000.

Davies won the second Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick last October and Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson took the second U.S. Senior Women’s Open, played at Pine Needles in North Carolina in May, by beating Juli Inkster and Johnson by two strokes.

The Senior Women’s Open drew a crowd at Pine Needles that was comparable to the one it enjoyed at Chicago Golf Club, and a similar event is expected for a third run at French Lick. Hollis Stacy will be added to the Legends Hall of Fame before the tournament tees off and the field will undergo only minor changes from a year ago. Karen Stupples and Laura Baugh will compete for the first time with Stupples preferring to compete rather than stay in The Golf Channel broadcast booth.

Dave Harner, director of golf at French Lick, has added two special exemptions — Lori Atsedes and Clarissa Child — after the scrapping of the on-site qualifying round. The starting field will be 78 players as opposed to the 81 scheduled to play last year. Only 80 eventually teed off.

Senior LPGA tourney at French Lick will conclude this year’s majors

The year’s major golf championships aren’t finished just yet. There’s still one to go.

Indiana’s French Lick Resort will host the third annual Senior LPGA Championship on its Pete Dye Course from Oct. 14-16. The 54-hole final event of The Legends Tour season has an unusual Monday through Wednesday schedule because that enabled the circuit for women 45 and over to gain live TV coverage on The Golf Channel.

England’s Trish Johnson became the first champion of a senior women’s major when she won the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship on the Pete Dye Course in 2017. The U.S. Golf Association staged its first major tournament for senior women last year – the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton. England’s Laura Davies won that one by a whopping 10-stroke margin.

Davies also won last year’s second Senior LPGA at French Lick last October and Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson took the second U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles, in North Carolina, in May. Those players, along with American Juli Inkster, loom as the favorites for the year’s final major at French Lick. A $650,000 prize fund will be on the line with the champion getting $100,000.

Beth Daniel, (left) was one of the LPGA’s top stars in her heyday and a former Solheim Cup captain. She won’t be competing at French Lick, but she recently received the coveted Woman of Distinction Award from Cece Durbin of the Women’s Western Golf Association. (Rory Spears Photo)

Since last year The Legends have undergone a change in leadership. Jane Blalock, who founded the circuit in 2000, stepped aside and Jane Geddes assumed the role of chief executive officer three months ago. Geddes, who still competes on the circuit, won the last of her 11 LPGA titles at the 1991 Chicago Challenge, which was played at White Eagle, in Naperville.

Illinois Open changes

White Eagle, which has just undergone a major renovation by architect Todd Quitno, will be the primary site of next year’s Illinois Open. According to published reports White Eagle will replace The Glen Club as the primary site of the tournament finals with nearby Stonebridge the secondary site.

Dates have not been announced but officials from both White Eagle and Stonebridge confirmed the site change, according to the reports.

Here and there

The Illinois PGA will have a representative in next year’s Senior PGA Championship at Michigan’s Harbor Shores course. Roy Biancalana, of Fresh Meadows in West Chicago, tied for 22nd at the Senior PGA Professionals Championship last week at Barton Creek, in Texas, to earn his spot at Harbor Shores.

The Women’s Western Golf Association presented its Woman of Distinction Award to Beth Daniel and Hollis Stacy will be this year’s lone inductee into The Legends Hall of Fame at French Lick when the ceremonies are held prior to the Senior LPGA Championship.

Vince India and Brad Hopfinger, winners of both the Illinois State Amateur and Illinois Open and competitors on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, switched to the PGA Latinoamerica circuit last week in Ecuador. India tied for 10th and Hopfinger tied for 46th. Patrick Flavin, also a winner of both of Illinois’ top tournaments, tied for 32nd and is fifth on the Latinoamerica season money list.

Chris French and Jim Sobb scored big wins as the Illinois PGA’s tournament season wound down. French, playing out of Aldeen in Rockford, won the IPGA Players Championship at Crystal Tree, in Orland Park, and Sobb took the Super Senior Open at Makray Memorial, in Barrington.

The all-star team from Cog Hill, in Lemont, is in the national finals of the PGA Junior League for the fourth straight year. The finals run through Monday (OCT 14) at Grayhawk, in Arizona.


A most memorable moment for Joy and me at the Illinois Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, with my daughter Heidi and grandson Sterling at The Glen Club on Oct. 18, 2019.

The big night was Oct. 18, 2019, at The Glen Club in Glenview, IL. That’s when I was inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.

First order of business to get ready for that big event was to prepare a speech and, I’ve quickly learned, that wasn’t so easy.

My first effort far exceeded the prescribed time limit, so I gave a shorter version that night. That version, though, didn’t touch on everything I wanted to say. This is the underrated version:

Being inducted into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame was a big deal to both me and my family. There aren’t many family members left, but my daughter Heidi and grandson Sterling are here from their home in North Carolina and my sister Julie and brother-in-law Joe came in from Wisconsin. Joy’s son Brian and daughter-in-law Molly didn’t come so far, but they’re with us tonight while celebrating their 22nd wedding anniversary, and Joy’s other daughter-in-law, Violet Sarver, is also here tonight.

For me there’s some symmetry involved in tonight’s event. In 1989 I gave the induction speech for the first inductee into the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame – Chicago Golf Club creator C.B. MacDonald. Now, to be inducted myself, makes this night all the more special.

I also want to say how happy I am to be inducted in the same class with both Emil and Carol. I only wish Carol could be with us. Though she was already in the World Golf Hall of Fame she told me in our last meeting how special it would mean for her to be in the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame as well, and now she’s getting her wish. As for Emil, our friendship goes back a long, long way. In fact, Emil’s brother Lou gave me my first golf lesson way back when I was 11 years old and Emil has been a good friend for all these 50-plus years.

The plaques and photos on the walls of The Glen Club make it official. Emil Esposito, Carol Mann and I all worked in different areas of golf but now we’re all members of the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame.

I’ve found that Hall of Fames can be interesting things. In 2004 the Illinois State Soccer Association put me in its Hall of Fame even though I’d never played on a soccer team. In golf it’s a little different. I’ve played a lot of golf, just not very well. My handicap has never dropped below 16. Obviously my role in these things is through journalism and – call it a lack of ambition if you want – but writing about sports for newspapers (and some magazines, too) is the only job I ever wanted since my years in junior high school. Indeed I’ve been a lucky guy.

I’ve always been proud to be a member of the media ranks, and golf is a big reason for that. Though I covered a lot of things in my 50-plus years in the newspaper-magazine field, I always felt that golf wrote well. Sometimes the story lines were so captivating that the stories seemed to write themselves.

Take my first U.S. Open – a rainy Sunday at Oakmont in 1973 when a skinny kid from California that no one had much heard of at the time – his name was Johnny Miller – shot a 63 to win the tournament. That’s still the low score posted in a major championship.

And then there was my first Masters in 1986. That coincided with Jack Nicklaus’ last of a record six wins in that tournament. Never – before or since – have I experienced the electricity in the air when Nicklaus was playing the back that day.

Here’s how the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame became what it is today.

While I’ve covered lots of tournaments around the country I’ve been basically a Chicago guy, and there was plenty going on here. I got an up-close look at a rousing victory by the U.S. women in a Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms and a devastating defeat by the U.S. men in a Ryder Cup at Medinah. I also reported on the first U.S. Open decided in sudden death, but my reporting wasn’t limited to tournament play.

I’ve been around to see the opening of such great golf facilities as Kemper Lakes, Cantigny, Conway Farms and Rich Harvest Farms and witnessed the creation of a much-needed event that has now survived 25 years – the Illinois Women’s Open. Needless to say, I’ve got lots of good memories and met lots of interesting people — most of whom I consider friends — along the way.

From the Chicago front My most memorable finish by a champion came in an LPGA event that is no longer held. Martha Nause, trying to chase down Laura Davies in the final round of a 1991 tournament known as the Chicago Sun-Times Shootout, finished birdie-birdie-birdie-eagle to win by one at Oak Brook Golf Club. She got the win by holing out from 100 yards out on her last shot to win by one shot. Hard to top that finish!

Steve Lesnik, who developed KemperSports — one of golf’s biggest management firms, was a big help in us starting the featured Travel section of lenziehmongolf.com.

Then there was my best performance by a local player. There have been a lot of good ones, but none can match Nick Hardy’s 28-under-par finish in a 10-shot victory at the 2016 State Amateur at St. Charles Country Club.

I’ve reported on great Chicago performances by — among many others — touring pros Hale Irwin, Nick Price, Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb and local stalwarts Joel Hirsch, Gary Groh, Steve Benson, Jim Sobb and Mike Small on the men’s side and Kerry Postillion and Nicole Jeray on the women’s front.

Indeed I’ve been a lucky guy.

My story in golf starts in the early 1970s when Jim Mullen, the sports editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, declared me the paper’s golf columnist. I was the youngest person in the department by quite a bit at the time, and the golf beat then amounted to reporting on just the bigger local tournaments, but golf was evolving and the golf beat quickly exploded. In a matter of just a few years I was reporting on tournaments around the country.

I was supported by a media contingent at the induction ceremonies by a group of friends that included Dave Lockhart, Gary Holaway, Barry Cronin, Ed Sherman and Tim Cronin.

It was very exciting to be a part of that, but – 41 years later – I was looking forward to a fun retirement. I had a game plan. Joy and I would travel extensively, reporting on basically golf destinations for various publications, and I’d dabble in the then relatively new world of golf websites as well.

Then Doug Ray, the publisher of the Daily Herald, came into the picture. For some reason Doug didn’t think that I was quite ready to ride into the sunset, and I’m glad he felt that way. It’s been both a pleasure and an honor to write for the last 10 years for a newspaper that has been seriously committed to covering our great sport.

The website venture has worked out pretty well, too. My daughter Heidi put together the first version of lenziehmongolf.com as Sun-Times retirement closed in, and the site has grown through the years. We now have eight partner sites around the country and Joy and I have visited 47 of the 50 states in the course of our travels, missing only Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming. The only problem is that now I feel more people might be more interested in Joy’s photography than in the pieces that I’ve been writing. But, so be it.

Ed Sherman (center) and Terry Hanley are long-time friends in the Chicago golf media world.

Making a Hall of Fame isn’t just about reminiscing, though. Mainly, it’s about appreciating what you’ve been given and I wanted to use this night to single out some special people – the media colleagues that I’ve worked with the most over the last 50 years.

The media wing of the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame isn’t very big yet. In 30 years there’s only been four media members inducted, me being the fifth – and I’m the first to go in in 14 years. This very nice honor that has come my way couldn’t have happened without the friendship and support of these people.

First, from the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame selection process, there’s Rory Spears, Tim Cronin, Ed Sherman and Nick Novelli. (Nick also provided most of the pictures on this page).

From the Western Golf Association, Gary Holaway and I have worked together on various projects basically since Day 1.

The golf beat was growing fast when I was at the Sun-Times, and I eventually needed a writing partner. Barry Cronin was my first one, and he’s now been the media relations director of the John Deere Classic for over 20 years. Barry owns a special distinction in golf. During the 1989 PGA Championship at Kemper Lakes he witnessed lightning wiping out my computer moments after I’d finished writing the main story for the Chicago Sun-Times. That led to my old meltdown in my 50-plus years in journalist — not a pretty site.

Illinois PGA executive director Carrie Williams got the program started at The Glen Club.

From the Daily Herald, in addition to Doug, working with sports editors Tom Quinlan and Mike Smith has been a delight. At Chicagoland Golf I’ve enjoyed a similar relationship with publisher Val Russell.

Friends at the golf organizations have also played a big role – Bill Ibrahim and Palmer Moody at the Illinois PGA; Rich Skyzinski, Matt Baylor and Casey Richards at the CDGA; and Susie Wagner at the Women’s Western Golf Association.

From the fascinating world of golf websites, four of my eight partner sites are Chicago based. In addition to Tim’s Illinois Golfer and Rory’s Golfers on Golf, it’s been great having support from Cheryl Justak’s Golf Now! Chicago and Dave Lockhart’s LinksVideo.

And, I also want to mention three friends who are no longer with us but haven’t been forgotten – Reid Hanley, golf writer for the Chicago Tribune; Phil Kosin, who created both Chicagoland Golf and the Illinois Women’s Open; and Mike Spellman, my first golf-writing partner at the Daily Herald.

For me it’s been a great run – and it’s not over yet! Thank you all for sharing in this great night.

Hanging out with the gang from KemperSports always is a fun time.