Chaussard goes after third straight IPGA Match Play title


It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

The Illinois PGA Match Play Championship had long been played in May as the section’s first major championship of the season, and the site was traditionally Kemper Lakes in Long Grove.  This week, though, it’ll be the IPGA’s third major of the year and it won’t be at Kemper.

Pandemic concerns necessitated a change in scheduling as well as a switch to Elgin Country Club because Kemper wasn’t available. The format for the event was changed, too, with a Tuesday qualifying round determining the seeding for the 64 players who begin the matches today (WEDNESDAY).

One thing hasn’t changed, though.  Garrett Chaussard is back as the defending champion. The teaching pro at Skokie Country Club, in Glencoe, is going after his third straight title — a feat accomplished by only three other players.

Bob Harris, the former head man at Sunset Ridge in Northfield, won six straight times from 1958-63.  Two others strung three wins in a row. North Shore legend  Bill Ogden, who won the first staging of the tourney in 1952, was a five-time winner and took his last three from 1970-72. Curtis Malm, of White Eagle in Naperville, notched three straight from 2012-14.

If Chaussard, a former University of Illinois golfer, is to get his third straight he’ll have to adjust to a much different course. Measuring only 6,450 yards from the back tees, Elgin is much shorter than Kemper Lakes. Elgin, though, has a much more hilly terrain than Kemper, which was the site of the 1989 PGA Championship for men and  2018 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship among many big tournaments.

Chaussard, who tied for 25th in Tuesday’s qualifying round to determine the seedings for this week’s event, doesn’t think the change in venue is a big deal.

“Match play is more of a hit or miss thing. It doesn’t matter much where you play,’’ he said.  “At Kemper it’d come down to all that water on the last three holes. Elgin is a different type of challenge.  Hopefully I can keep the trophy at Skokie for another year.’’

He wasn’t a major factor in the first two IPGA majors of 2020, tying for 25th in the Illinois Open and tying for 14th at the IPGA Championship. He finished a strong tied for fourth, however, in the last of his four IPGA stroke play competitions, on Aug. 17 at Ivanhoe. Illinois men’s coach Mike Small, who won the IPGA Championship for the 13th time last month, shot a 66 and was the low man  in Tuesday’s qualifying session.

There’ll be two rounds of matches each day of this IPGA Match Play event.  The field will be cut from 64 to 32 on Wednesday morning and from 32 to 16 in the afternoon.  Thursday’s matches will whittle the field from 16 in  the morning to eight for the afternoon quarter-finals.  Friday’s wrapup has the semifinals beginning at 8 a.m. and the championship match at noon.


Streelman is ready for U.S. Open


Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman couldn’t survive the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields during last month’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, but he looked sharp in last week’s Safeway Open. That was both the opening event of the PGA Tour’s 2020-21 season and the last tuneup for the 120th U.S. Open, which tees off on Thursday at New York’s Winged Foot course.

Streelman tied for third in the Safeway Open, which suggests he could contend at Winged Foot. Streelman, who turned pro in 2001, will make his seventh U.S. Open appearance with his best showing a tie for 13th in 2016.

The Safeway Open, at Silverado in California, also produced a good showing for Doug Ghim, the PGA Tour rookie from Arlington Heights. A non-qualifier for the U.S. Open, Ghim hovered near the top of the leaderboard for three rounds in the Safeway before a 71 on Sunday left him in a tie for 14th place. That was still worth a $100,650 payday for the 24-year old, his second best showing on the premier circuit.  He tied for 12tth in the Byron Nelson tournament in 2019.


Here and there


Cog Hill, in Palos Heights, was to host the National Long Drive Championship this year until pandemic issues led to the event’s postponement. This week Ultimate Long Drive named Cog as the site of national championships for both its Amateur Long Drive and Xtreme Long Drive World Championships.  They’ll be held between Sept. 11 and 19 in 2021.

Curtis Thompson, who had been caddying for his sister Lexi on the LPGA Tour, won the Korn Ferry Tour’s Evans Scholars Invitational on Sunday at Chicago Highlands in Westchester. Lake Forest’s Brad Hopfinger tied for fourth and Northbrook’s Nick Hardy tied for 13th.

Greg Sands of Texas Tech and Kim Lewellen of Wake Forest were named the coaches for the U.S. team in  next year’s Arnold Palmer Cup matches at Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove.  J.C. Deacon of Canada and Sofia Aagard of Sweden will coach the International side.

The 34th Illinois State Senior Amateur concludes its three-day run Wedneseday (TODAY) at Mt. Hawley in Peoria.







Chicago’s Korn Ferry stop is latest tour event to include a pro-am


Slowly but surely the pro golf tours are getting back to normal.

PGA Tour Champions, the 50-and-over circuit, will be the first major one to welcome spectators at this week’s Sanford International in South Dakota. The PGA Tour itself, which has gone 14 straight weeks without fans since ending a three-month break over pandemic concerns, isn’t taking spectators yet  and they won’t be allowed at the year’s final two major championships – this month’s U.S. Open and November’s Masters – either.

The PGA, however, will hold its first pro-am since resuming tournament play at the Sept. 21-27 Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic, and this week’s Korn Ferry Tour stop at Chicago Highlands, in Westchester, is also an indication that progress is being made. The Korn Ferry provides its players a direct path to the premier circuit.

Chicago Highlands will be the site of a pro-am Wednesday, minus spectators, and some very limited VIP viewing opportunities will be available for the 72-hole Evans Scholars Invitational, which tees off on Thursday. Contact Connor Claxton at the Western Golf Association ( for details.  No daily admission tickets will be available.

Last year’s ESI was held at The Glen Club, in Glenview, and the event was to return there in May until the pandemic halted play.  The ESI was given new dates but, with The Glen not available, the  $600,000 tournament was moved to Chicago Highlands.

Scottie Scheffler, who finished play in the PGA’s Tour Championship in Atlanta on Monday, won last year’s inaugural playing of the ESI at The Glen.  The new dates put the Korn Ferry’s two Illinois tournaments on consecutive weeks with Australian Brett Drewitt winning the Lincoln Land Championship, also a $600,000 event, at Panther Creek, in Springfield, on Sunday.

While the Korn Ferry has its largest-ever contingent of Illinois members, the Lincoln Land event didn’t  bring out the best in them.  Only Northbrook’s Nick Hardy (tie for 35th) and Lake Forest’s Brad Hopfinger (tie for 42nd) played all 72 holes at Panther Creek.

Hardy, in his rookie season on the tour, is No. 17 on the circuit’s all-important point list.  The top 25 after the current season ends in 2021 gain membership to the PGA Tour.  Hardy doesn’t have a win but he has five top-10 finishes and made the cut in 15 of 18 tournaments.  That steady play has him one spot ahead of Drewitt, last week’s winner, in the point race.

Two Northwestern alums – David Lipsky (7) and Dylan Wu (12) — are also inside the top 25 and Deerfield’s Vince India (32) and Hopfinger (36) aren’t far off.


CDGA renovates Sunshine Course

Renovation work has begun on the three-hole Sunshine Course at the Chicago District Golf Association’s Midwest Golf House complex in Lemont. The facility, which opened in 2004, offers programing for individuals with special needs, military veterans and youth.

Wadsworth Construction Co. is spearheading the project.  Turf and bunker varieties as well as a variable depth practice green will be added.  The course is scheduled to re-open in the summer of 2021.


Here and there

While final totals are not in, the Illinois PGA reports that Tuesday’s Birdies for Charity event at River Forest Country Club pushed the money raised in its 10-year history to over $2 million.

Roy Biancalana, of St. Charles, was a three-stroke winner over Glencoe amateur Ted Pecora and Chicago teaching pro Mike Harrigan in the Illinois  Super Senior Open at Pine Meadow, in Mundelein. The CDGA Super Senior event is Thursday at Glenview Park.

The PGA Tour announced its 2020-21 schedule with the John Deere Classic, the only stop in Illinois, retaining its July 5-11 spot on the calendar, a week before the British Open.  The BMW Championship, played at Medinah and Olympia Fields the last two years, goes on the road again with Caves Valley in Maryland the site for the FedEx Cup Playoff event.




No doubt about it: Michigan’s LochenHeath is back in the swing of things


LochenHeath has plenty of memorable holes, and waterfront views only make them better.

WILLIAMSBURG, Michigan – This is one of those golf feel-good stories that you don’t see often enough.

It focuses on LochenHeath Golf Club in northern Michigan, on the outskirts of Traverse City.  LochenHeath is a course that once was closed, but has since been rescued thanks to some extraordinary efforts by a few club members and some dedicated employes. Now they have one of the best public courses in this golf-rich state.

The course, designed by the well-respected Steve Smyers, has a beautiful site above East Grand Traverse Bay. Built on what had been a 300-acre cherry orchard, LochenHeath opened as a public course in 2002, went private in 2004 and then reverted to a daily fee operation in 2008. The end result of those maneuvers led to bankruptcy and a shutdown that lasted over two years

Eleven members brought the club out of foreclosure in the spring of 2011, but they did more than that. Their passion for the project made all the difference.

“Really quite a story,’’ recounted general manager Kevin O’Brien.  “The members didn’t sit by during the shutdown.  They came out and kept the course alive – mowing, weeding bunkers, whatever they could do.’’

At one point the grass in the fairways was knee-high, and one of the bunkers required 65 man-hours of hand labor for it to survive.

Joe Ettawagiac, who had been the assistant superintendent, was brought back as the head man and another former employee, chef Joseph George, was also re-hired.  In May of 2011 those involved held a celebratory reopening.

O’Brien, who joined the effort in 2013, had worked at some other good places in Michigan.  He was in charge at the 36-hole Tullymore Resort, in Stanwood, for 20 years. While O’Brien was there architect Jim Engh created the resort’s  namesake course that was judged America’s Best New Public and Resort Course after its opening in 2002.  St. Ives, the resort’s older course, is considered one of the best for women.

After Tullymore O’Brien went to True North, in Harbor Springs.  It also had a course designed by Engh. O’Brien was there for two years until LochenHeath came calling.

“The members wanted to transition back to private, something I had done at True North,’’ said O’Brien, “but here it’s different.  It’ll take nine or 10 years. We figured it’d be a long process.’’

Architect Steve Smyers gave LochenHeath a Scottish links look.

For now O’Brien  describes LochenHeath as “a private club that invites limited outside play.’’

While the recruitment of more members may take some time, the product doesn’t seem a hard sell. Smyers, once the president of the Golf Course Architects of America, took on a site that had 85 feet of elevation changes.  That was a good start for him to make something good, and he did.

“The conditioning and golf course views are exceptional,” said O’Brien, “and there’s great movement to the land.”

More recently two spatious cottages have been built to attract national members. The outdoor practice area is also state-of-the-art and simulators are available for use indoors.

This is one of those courses that must be played from the proper set of tees to fit a player’s talent level. If that commonsense practice is followed you’ll find LochenHeath challenging, but – more than anything —  a lot of fun. If you don’t follow that guideline you won’t appreciate what LochenHeath offers.

The course measures 7,287 yards from the back tees, where the rating is 77.2 and the slope 150.  LochenHeath measures only 5,031 from the front markers, and there are seven sets of tees.

Best hole may be No. 7, a downhill par-5.  At 579 yards from the tips, it’s the longest  on the course and – with a 70-foot elevation drop – it’s the No. 1 handicap hole.  That finishing stretch, though, can break your heart.

Last of the par-3s is No. 15 which requires an uphill tee shot to a green that slopes sharply back to front. Keeping your ball from running off the front and into a deep ravine is no easy task. Then comes two of the toughest par-4s on the layout and the finisher is a tight par-5 that demands a straight tee shot.  Long hitters might be able to reach the green in two shots if the tee shot is a good one.

A PGA Tour player, Ryan Brehm, holds the course record with a 65 — and he’s also a LochenHeath member.

Pass through the gate into LochenHeath Golf Club, and you’re in for a real treat.




Michigan’s Forest Dunes continues to expand its facilities


Forest Dunes’ new Short Course has provided playing options for more types of players.

ROSCOMMON, Michigan – There was never a doubt that Forest Dunes had one of the very best golf courses in Michigan, if not the entire United States. Tom Weiskopf designed it in 2002 – the same year that Golf Digest named it Best New Course in the U.S.

That started a rivalry with nearby Arcadia Bluffs for the best public course in Michigan, and it’s been ongoing. Arcadia added a second course last year, but Forest Dunes’ first 18-holer remains on the best in the U.S. lists by Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Golfweek.

No facility, however, can keep up with the expansion that Forest Dunes owner Lew Thompson, an Arkansas trucking magnate, has engineered over that last five years.

The well-received Weiskopf design brought players to this small town, but not enough of them. Lodging was needed to keep them there, and now – between a lodge, villas and nine homes scattered around the property — there are 130 beds on the 1,300-acre site.

Golfers could play more by signing up for stay-and-play packages, but then there was just that one course. That was a drawback.

Thompson’s answer was to hire of Michigan architect Tom Doak for the creation of The Loop – arguably the most unique golf course in the country.  It plays clock-wise (as the Black course)  one day and counter-clock-wise (as the Red) the next. The Loop opened in 2016 as a walking-only layout, but now carts are allowed and rounds  have increased.

Still, that wasn’t enough.

“We’ve seen, as a destination facility, that stays are getting extended a night or two,’’ said Don Helinski, Forest Dunes’ director of operations.  “But people aren’t interested in golfing themselves to death by playing 36 holes a day. They also want to get together with the people they’re with and hang out.’’

The HillTop Putting Course is more than a place to putt. It is spread over two acres.

So more building was necessary.  On Aug. 1 the new 10-hole Short Course opened, its holes ranging from 65 to 150 yards.

“We’re a pure golf facility,’’ said Helinski.  “WE have no pool, no spa, no nightlife.  We need these things to keep our people entertained.’’

The Short Course has done that.  Such layouts are becoming more and more popular, and Forest Dunes’ version is somewhat of a cross between The Cradle, at Pinehurst, and Mountain Top, the Gary Player-design in the Branson, Mo., area.  Forest Dunes’ short course is more challenging than The Cradle but not as testy as Mountain Top.  Like The Cradle, the Short Course starts and finishes near an outdoor bar and that adds to the fun atmosphere of playing there.

“These courses throw out the stuffiness and standardness of golf,’’ said Helinski.  “Who says a course has to have nine or 18 holes? Who says you have to measure yourself against par? Just go out and have fun. That’s why we’re calling it a Short Course rather than a par-3 course.  It’s not about a cumulative score.  It’s all about the games you can play.’’

The No. 10 hole provides an unusual finisher at Forest Dunes’ Short Course.

Helinski says the average time for a round is 1 hour 15 minutes.  Groups of up to eight are allowed to play together and the fee per adult round is $39. Children 15 and under play free if accompanied by an adult.

Some players wear flip-flops, some play barefoot.  Some carry three clubs, while others take a full bag and ride in a cart. Some play the course with just one club (one even did it with a putter when we were there). Regardless of how you play, the Short Course provides a good introduction to golf for people of all ages.

Unlike the Weiskopf and Doak courses, the Short Course didn’t have a big-name designer. Keith Rhebb and Riley Johns were co-designers.  They had designed a similar course in Winter Park, FL., where Rhebb lives.  Johns, from Canada, worked with Doak in the creation of The Loop.

“You don’t get the chance to get super creative when designing courses,’’ said Rhebb, “but with the Short Course we really had the opportunity to have some fun with it.  Lew wanted it to be fun and always engaging, and we were able to express that in the design.’’

The Short Course went up fast. Construction took just 81 days from the time the first shovel went into the ground until seeding. It also was only two weeks between the time the first phone call was made to start the project until the start of construction.

Having the Short Course up and running also brought more attention to Forest  Dunes’ two-acre, 18-hole HillTop Putting Course.  It has some undulation and is spiced up with native grasses and pine trees.  Tee markers and scorecards are part of the ambiance. We’ve been to Forest Dunes four times and didn’t know the putting course, which opened three years ago, was there.  Now you can’t miss it.

Amazingly, Thompson most likely isn’t done building yet.

“We have enough property north of the current courses to expand the property and develop another course,’’ said Helinski.  “Several top architects have said the land for it is the best on the property, but that would also mean an investment for more lodging and other facilities.’’

Given the aggressive approach Thompson has taken to develop the property, don’t be surprised if the the building of the next course isn’t too far off.

Arthur Hills Golf Trail is up and running


Maumee Bay State Park’s golf villas provide great lodging for stay-and-play packages.

TOLEDO, Ohio – Arthur Hills designed more than 200 golf courses and renovated more than 150 in his long career as a course architect. Few modern day architects have come even close to those numbers.

Hills, now 90 and officially retired, spends most of his time on the east coast of Florida now but his work is being honored in the area that was his long-time home base.  Hills, working with long-time partner Steve Forrest, was based in the Toledo area and now Ohio Golf Journal publisher Fred Altvater and several club operators are developing the Arthur Hills Golf Trail.

The Trail was officially launched at the Toledo Golf Show in 2019. Pandemic issues slowed its takeoff but Altvater sees bigger days ahead. Based on the work Hills has done world-wide there’s no question he deserves his own Trail.

In addition to his American designs – the best-known of which may be Half Moon Bay in California — Hills has designed courses in Portugal, Croatia, Sweden, Mexico and Norway.

Several years ago the Pete Dye Golf Trail started on a small scale with seven courses in the late architect’s native Indiana.  Hills is Dye’s contemporary, and his trail has a similar beginning.  Altvater has lined up five courses for starters.

They include three layouts in southeast Michigan —  The Legacy by Arthur Hills, in Ottawa Hills, and Stonebridge Golf Club and Leslie Park, in Ann Arbor – and two in northwest Ohio – Stone Ridge, in Bowling Green, and Maumee Bay State Park, on the shores of Lake Erie in the town of  Oregon.

“There’s probably 10-12 good Arthur Hills designs in the Toledo area,’’ said Altvater.  “Down the road we hope to have them involved as well, but these are within 45 minutes of Toledo and have great lodging and fantastic places to eat nearby as well.’’

Altvater is also banking on other nearby attractions, like a world-class zoo and botanical gardens, to entice visitors.

Hills’ footprint in the area touches far more destinations than are represented on the present trail.  He designed nine courses in Ohio and another 17 in Michigan.  The Michigan layouts include one of his very best – the Arthur Hills Course at Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs – and 27-hole Bay Harbor, a masterpiece overlooking Little Traverse Bay.

The first course Hills created was in Toledo —  Brandywine, in 1967, and he did renovation work at, among others, the historic Inverness Club in that city. He has degrees from Michigan, Michigan State and the University of Toledo, so Hills is indeed a native son of both states.

No. 12, a par-3 measuring 199 yards from the tips, has hazards on both sides of the green.

As for the five Trail courses, the toughest is Stone Ridge – the home course of the Bowling Green University golf teams and just a long tee shot from the edge of the campus. The bunkering there is one of Hills’ finest works, and the course is surrounded by rolling hills and dissected by small creeks and water hazards.

Stonebridge may be the most beautiful of the Trail layouts, with the extremely well-conditioned course blending in well with an array of pleasant homesites.  Leslie Park started as a Larry Packard design in 1967 before Hills performed major renovation work 28 years later. Leslie Park has been selected as the best municipal course in Michigan by Golf Digest.

Most enticing of the lot, though, is Maumee Bay because it offers so much more than golf.  With camping and watersports readily available, the park is ideal for family activities.  The on-site lodging is also well situated, just a short walk from the golf course.

“Arthur’s hand has touched a lot of golf courses around the area,’’ said Altvater.  “He’s a very popular designer in this part of the world, and I’m amazed at the great golf here that nobody knows about.  We can put custom-made packages together and, for double occupancy and 18 holes a day, we can do it for about $100.  And replay rounds can be less than $25.’’

For more information check out or contact Altvater at

Maumee Bay’s Lodge offers views of Lake Erie and its beaches.






Valley Tower’s creation brightens the outlook at Indiana’s French Lick Resort

The new Valley Sports Bar will be a happening place at French Lick.

FRENCH LICK, Indiana — Our longest golf/travel writing tour of the year – 22 days with stops in six states — ended at a most familiar place.  We’ve made at least one stop at French Lick Resort & Casino every year since 2009.

This year’s visit was a bit different than the others in that no tournament coverage was involved. At least our string of consecutive annual visits remains intact, a sharp contrast to what’s happened on the PGA Tour.  I had covered every Chicago area PGA event conducted by the Western Golf Association since 1972. That run will come to an end this week when the BMW Championship is held at Olympia Fields Country Club.

In addition to not allowing spectators at its tournaments since March 12 the PGA Tour has limited media attendance to basically just those who travel with the circuit on a weekly basis. That ruled me out, as was the case at three other previous tournaments at which I applied for a credential.

French Lick was not immune to pandemic restrictions. Pandemic concerns led to the cancelation of both the Senior LPGA Championship, slated for Oct. 9-16 on the resort’s Pete Dye Course, and the Donald Ross Classic, a Symetra Tour stop that was to be contested on the Donald Ross Course in July.

The opening of the Valley Tower increased French Lick’s lodging capabilities.

Our latest tour of golf destinations included stops in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio and Michigan before we reached Indiana. In sharp contrast to PGA tournaments, the destinations visited on our tour had no trouble welcoming golfers. Virtually all were cognizant of governmental restrictions caused by the pandemic.

Only one of our stops, in Georgia, was reluctant to push the use of masks and that stop even offered a breakfast buffet – something discouraged by the health experts.

None of the others, however, were as diligent about safety concerns as French Lick.  Masks were required  — with no exceptions anywhere – and temperature checks were made at the resort’s hotels and restaurants on a daily basis.  Those who passed were given coded bracelets to wear that day. That precaution wasn’t taken at any of the other destinations we visited.

While French Lick has had its problems like every place else, director of golf Dave Harner could find a silver lining.

“Our courses never closed,’’ he said.  “It took a pandemic to get golf going again.  Our play has been  extremely heavy on the weekends.’’

In our visits to French Lick we have seen new, positive developments of one sort or another every year.  This time it was the opening of a new hotel and restaurant – the Valley Tower and Bar. Its creation led to the conversion of the pro shop at the nine-hole Valley Links course into a convention/exhibition center.  A new pro shop was constructed closer to the first tee at the Valley Links.

While big tournaments had to be scrapped in 2020, the Senior LPGA Championship and Donald Ross Championship will return in 2021.  The Big Ten men’s championship and Indiana Amateur are also on the resort’s calendar for future years.

Small back on top in time for another Illinois PGA title run

These have been quiet times for Mike Small, but that’s changing.  The University of Illinois men’s coach is back in the spotlight going into the Illinois PGA Championship, which tees off on Monday on Medinah Country Club’s No. 1 course.

Small, 54,  has won the tournament 12 times and there’s no reason to think he couldn’t do it again even though Medinah teaching instructor Travis Johns is the defending champion and will be competing for a repeat title on his home course.

Johns has been IPGA’s player-of-the-year four times in the last eight years.  Small won the last of his three player-of-the-year awards in 2008, as his coaching duties have limited his participation in section events. Small, however, leads the Bernardi point standings heading into next week’s 54-hole tournament.

Stymied as a coach by pandemic issues which have negatively impacted the collegiate season, Small has stayed at the top level in tournament play this month.  He was low club pro in the Illinois Open, finishing in a tie for ninth, then won the Illinois Senior Open for the fourth straight year last week. Next up is the section’s oldest tournament.  The Illinois PGA Championship dates back to 1922.

“I’m just grateful that we have places to play and tournaments to play in,’’ said Small.  “We haven’t been able to play much this year so any chance you get to play in an event, as a professional, you have to take advantage of it.’’

After the Illinois Open Small has an event bigger event. He’s one of nine IPGA qualifiers for the Senior PGA Professional Championship Oct.  15-18 at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, FL.  Among the other local qualifiers for the national event were Ivanhoe’s Jim Sobb and Biltmore’s Doug Bauman.

As a coach Small has created a collegiate powerhouse, but when and where his Illini will compete again is uncertain as college administrators debate how to handle pandemic concerns relating to all sports.

“Who knows what the future holds,’’ said Small.  “It’s a horrible pandemic, but life’s got to go on. I’m a proactive person living in a reactive world right now.  We’ll play where they tell us to play. We’re just trying to figure out how to help the kids get better while waiting to hear from the NCAA.’’




Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman is in position to cash in big-time with the PGA Tour’s FedEx Playoffs teeing off on Thursday.  He goes into the three-event series at No. 22 so he was easily into this week’s 125-player  Northern Trust tourney in Boston and it would take a horrible collapse for Streelman to not advance to the Aug. 27-30 BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club.

The top 70 in the FedEx standings after the Northern Trust advance to Olympia Fields, and the top 30 after that event go to The Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta Sept. 4-7. The Northern Trust and BMW Championship both have purses of $9.5 million.  Prize money for The Tour Championship hasn’t been announced.

Even though the U.S. Open and Masters have yet to be played the FedEx Playoffs officially end the PGA Tour’s 2019-20 season.




Mistwood, in Romeoville, has taken over management duties at 36-hole White Pines, owned by the Bensenville Park District, and Andrew Godfrey has moved over from Mistwood to be White Pine’s new head professional.  Godfrey is second to Small in the Bernardi point standings.

Elmhurst’s Mark Wilson, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, is in the field at this week’s 100th playing of the Wisconsin State Open. Wilson, who has had trouble getting into tour events in recent years, won the Wisconsin State Open in 2001.

Pandemic issues have been far-reaching in the golf world, and Jerry Rich’s Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove, has been a victim twice.  The Big Ten Championship had to be called off there in May and now – following the Mid-American Conference’s decision to forego fall sports – the Sept. 25-28 Rich Harvest Farms Intercollegiate, hosted by Northern Illinois University, has been canceled as well.  Next up at Rich Harvest is the Arnold Palmer Cup in 2021.





What’s the best course on the Georgia Golf Trail? You tell me

Architect Denis Griffiths’ finger bunkers and the Blue Ridge Mountains are trademarks at Brasstown Valley.

 Georgia may be the best state in the union for golf.  Others may have more courses, but the Peach State is the home of both the Masters and the PGA’s Tour Championship. No state has major events of that caliber on an annual basis.

And don’t forget the Georgia Golf Trail. With 20 destinations it’s one of the nation’s biggest trails. The Robert Trent Jones Trail in Alabama may receive more attention, but it doesn’t have the number of destinations that Georgia does.

Created by Doug Hollandsworth eight years ago, the Georgia Trail has grown to 20 destinations and you can’t beat the variety of them. Many are multi-course facilities, headed by  the six-course Reynolds Lake Oconee, in Greensboro, which features the great, Jack Nicklaus-designed and recently-renovated Great Waters layout.

Eight of the others are at state parks, such as the Wallace Adams Course – affectionately known as “Little O’’ – at Little Ocmulgee State Lodge Park in Helena. You can play this, very decent, layout for under $30.

It’d be presumptuous of me to name the best destination on the trail, since I have played only a few of them. Comparing them is a fun, stimulating exercise, however, so why not give it a shot?

For me it’s hard to imagine a trail course much nicer than the last one I visited.  That’d be Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris, a town with only about 1,000 residents that is but six miles from the North Carolina border.

Denis Griffiths, who lives in North Carolina, designed Brasstown Valley.  It opened in 1995 and was one of the early members of the Trail.

“We became the anchor,’’ said Steve Phelps, the resort’s director of golf the past 14 years. “The pros all wanted to see who would jump on board with this.  We’re known pretty well throughout the state and are a state-owned facility.  As soon as we got in a number of others followed.’’

The Trail has served its major purpose. It expanded interest in more parts of Georgia.

The 515-yard 15th, a par-5 that wraps around water, may be the best hole at Brasstown Valley.

“It showed our diversity,’’ said Phelps. “By playing the Trail you can see all of Georgia. Here (at Brasstown) we have the mountains. It’s too nice a place to miss.  We’re one of the marquee places, but Georgia has a pretty nice coast, too.’’

Brasstown Valley was built on 500 acres of a wildlife preserve.  The resort includes a stable, hiking trails, tennis, indoor and outdoor pools and two restaurants. In addition to its proximity to North Carolina it’s a half-hour from the Tennessee line and four states can be viewed from one high spot near the resort.

Griffiths’ course is stunning. The Blue Ridge Mountains provide an appropriate backdrop for a course dominated by finger-filled bunkers and sweeping elevation changes.  The par-5 fifteenth, which plays around a lake, may be the best hole.

One other thing to note about the well-groomed course.  Many places on it are protected wildlife areas or sacred Indian ground. There were once seven Indian villages in the area, and the popular multi-colored turtle tee markers are a tribute to Indian lore. Machinery can’t be used in those protected area so wildlife can grow as high as five feet in some spots at certain times of the year, adding to the striking nature of the layout.

Griffiths has two other designs on the Trail, at Brazell’s Creek Gordonia-Alatamaha State Park in Reidsville and the Georgia Veterans Golf Club at Lake Blackshear Resort in Cordele.

Other state park courses on the Trail are Arrowhead Pointe at Richard B. Russell State Park in Elberton;  Meadow Links at George T. Bagby State Park and Lodge in Fort Gaines; The Creek at Hard Labor Creek State Park in Rutledge; The Lakes at Laura S. Walker State Park in Hoboken; and Highland Walk at Victoria Bryant State Park in Franklin Springs.

The opening hole at the Wallace Adams Course at Little Ocmulgee is a tough dogleg left over water.

New clubhouse will also bring a stunning opening tee shot at Cherokee Valley


The Blue Ridge Mountains create a stunning backdrop for players at Cherokee Valley.

TRAVELER’S REST, South Carolina – Clubs — at least the lucky ones– are sometimes able to build nice, new clubhouses even in these difficult financial times.  Cherokee Valley, a 28-year old public facility 25 miles from the city of  Greenville, is one of those but there’s more to the story.

Owner Matt Jennings wanted to add a premier dining experience when he and his uncle, Ted Levine,  bought the club in 2017. They wanted a place where families, couples, individuals, business people and – of course – golfers could share a sense of community.

By November Cherokee Valley will have all of that, but it isn’t a case of a new clubhouse replacing an old one. The old clubhouse will revert back to its original use – as an events center.  The focus of the new one will be the Core 450 Restaurant, and executive chef Todd Warden is already on board to oversee the dining operation. The current golf shop will be moved to the first floor of the new building.

Making this dramatic move, however, also will necessitate a reconfiguration of the golf course – a beautiful one already, and one of the best public venues we’ve ever visited.  P.B. Dye, one of the sons of the late, great golf architecture couple of Pete and Alice Dye, was the designer.

The new clubhouse, under construction, will feature the Core 450 Restaurant and views of ninth and 18th greens.


For P.B., it’s more than just another credit on his resume.  He used the par-3 eighth hole, which has a 70-foot downhill drop and Glassy Mountain as a backdrop, as the site for his wedding.  P.B. and wife Jean were married on that spot shortly before Cherokee Valley opened in 1992.

With the creation of Core 450 Dye had to make changes to his original layout, one of which should stir some controversy..

The new opening hole will get players’ attention immediately.  It’s a sturdy par-4, 461 yards from the back tees, with a significant forced carry over water on the opening tee shot. In the original layout it was No. 3. The par-4 second hole becomes No. 18, which enhances viewing for those on hand at Core 450. Those viewers will be able to see the action at both the Nos. 9 and 18 holes.

In the routing  No. 1 is No. 17 and No. 2 was No. 18 The downhill par-4 third hole will be reverted to the first hole. The new configuration will create a tough finishing stretch featuring a par-5 and two lengthy par-4s in the last three holes.  They’ll measure a combined 1,404 total yards from the back tees and include the third and fifth hardest holes on the course.

While the other changes are significant, the new No. 1 will be felt the most.  Jennings says the new rotation will be a big hit with Cherokee’s players, both members and visitors alike.

“Golfers are going to love it,’’ said Jennings.  “We’ve received great feedback on the configuration. Low handicappers have readily accepted the challenging of facing two of the toughest holes on the course right at the start.’’

With a waterfall as part of the attraction, No. 5 is the signature holes at Cherokee Valley.

Bottom line is that Cherokee Valley isn’t your typical golf club.  It’s a family club in a tight-knit community, but it also has cottages – located just a short walk from the pro shop — that make it ideal for stay-and-play group outings. There’s a swimming pool as well as tennis and pickleball courts and its golf practice area is extraordinary.

While the golf carts are top-notch, the 20 Finn Cycles – motorized “golf scooters’’ – are a fun option for on-course transportation.

Regardless of the order of the holes Cherokee Valley has a great mix of challenges.  The elevation changes are dramatic in many places but the course is no killer, either.  It measures 6,728 yards from the tips with a rating of 71.4 and slope of 134.  It’s enjoyable for players of all ability levels. The course has 11 lakes and 50 strategically-placed bunkers and the current No. 5, which features a waterfall, is the designated signature hole.

These Cottages at Cherokee Valley offer visitors most comfortable lodging just a short walk from the pro shop.

`Dirty Dancing’ helped make Bald Mountain a special course

The lower green is for Bald Mountain’s No.15 and the upper one for No. 16, a site for a famous movie.

LAKE LURE, North Carolina – The Bald Mountain course at Rumbling Bald Resort hasn’t changed much since W.B. Lewis designed it in 1968.

“Actually, it hasn’t changed at all,’’ said Adam Bowles, who has headed the golf operation at the resort the last seven years. “They put in new bentgrass greens in about 2000, and the trees have grown.  That’s about it.’’

Bald Mountain, though, has a unique attraction. If you hit the green on the No. 16 hole you have – almost literally – reached “the dance floor.’’  That green was a scene in the movie “Dirty Dancing.’’ There’s a sign behind it to designate its place in the movie that has had a steady stream of followers for over 30 years.  It was released internationally in 1987.

“Everyone wants to take a picture from behind the green,’’ said Bowles.  “It’s incredible to me how many people are still attached to that movie. It has a strange attraction.  It’s funny how some movies have a cult following.’’

“Dirty Dancing,’’ which starred Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, certainly has that.  Lake Lure holds an annual Dirty Dancing Festival in September, though it won’t be held this year because of pandemic concerns.

Adam Bowles is amazed how the movie `Dirty Dancing’  has impacted one course’s popularity.

“It’s a really big deal,’’ said Bowles.  “You wouldn’t believe how many people flock to this area.  A lot of places that were in that movie have since burned down, and there’s not much remaining.  It’s really the only place where people who love that movie can go where it was made.  Pretty bizarre to me.’’

No. 16 is a pretty hole – a 160-yard par-3 over water from the back tees.  It follows a striking par-5 that is pretty special, too.  It’s downhill from tee to green with a covered bridge used to get golfers from the fairway to the putting surface. The green is blocked by a small, but troublesome, creek.

There’s some other interesting holes at Bald Mountain as well. Course designer Lewis was a protégé of George Cobb, best known for creating the par-3 course at Augusta National.

“We’ve called 16  our signature hole because there’s so much history involved,’’ said Bowles, “but players have developed a love-hate relationship about No. 15.’’  That’s the longest hole on the course at 509 yards from the back tees.

The downhill par-5 fifteenth is protected by this hazard, making it Bald Mountain’s toughest hole.

Bald Mountain, a par-72, measures only 6,233 yards from the tips, but it’s also unusual for having five par-3s and five par-5s. It’s a short, sporty layout with lots of doglegs and elevation changes. There’s a lot of steep, windy roads leading into the resort, and that suggests the elevation changes on the layout are more pronounced than they really are. Bowles says the elevation is 1,500 feet, but that’s enough to make it interesting for a wide variety of players.  The Carolina Golf Association plays between six and eight events there each year and junior events are also in abundance.

The course has been owned by its homeowners since 1992, and Bowles envisions the day when the resort connection may be dropped.

“It’ll be more attached to the community, which is really what it is – more a homeowners course,’’ he said.

Bald Mountain will soon have a partner course again.  Apply Valley, which was acquired by the resort in 1986, will re-open to the public on Aug. 24.  It has been closed since June to allow for the replacement of bentgrass by Champion Bermuda. Apple Valley was designed by Pinehurst, N.C. architect Dan Maples.  He the son of Ellis Maples, an architectural icon.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to do something in a year we didn’t expect to do anything,’’ said Bowles.  “It was a tough financial decision, but it was the smartest thing to do. We’ll be providing something for people to look forward to.”