The Chicago District Golf Association won’t announce its 2024 tournament schedule until Dec. 6 but it will include two major additions.
For 90 years the Illinois Women’s Golf Association, a group based downstate, conducted the Illinois Women’s State Amateur as well as its state championship for senior players. With IWGA membership dwindling, those events would likely have been discontinued had the CDGA not stepped in.
The Women’s State Amateur will be switched from a match play format to a 54-hole stroke play event. It’ll be held June 10-12 at The Grove, in Long Grove. In addition, changes in the U.S. Golf Association’s exemption process means that the champion of both the Illinois women’s and men’s state amateur championships will receive exemptions into the U.S. Amateurs.
While The Grove also hosted last year’s Illinois Women’s State Amateur, the men’s version will make a rare departure from the Chicago area in 2024. It’ll be held July 16-18 at the Atkins Golf Club at the University of Illinois in Champaign.
LIV IN LIMBO: Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove, hosted well-received tournaments on the LIV Tour the last two years, but a return in 2024, is uncertain. LIV owner Jerry Rich invited the circuit back, but the latest LIV schedule didn’t include a Chicago stop.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be one, though. The circuit plans another 14-tournament international schedule and three dates are still open. An April 5-7 event is planned at a U.S. facility and the season-ending individual and team championships, like held in late August or early September, don’t have announced sites yet either.
BROZEK’S BACK: Casey Brozek, a former Illinois PGA president, has landed the director of golf position at Medinah Country Club. He replaces Marty DeAngelo,, who took a position in Naples, FL.
Brozek was head professional at Crystal Lake Country Club for 16 years before moving to a director’s position at Quail West in Florida. Brozek arrives at Medinah as the club prepares to re-open its No. 3 course, which has undergone a year-long renovation, and is scheduled to host the President’s Cup matches in 2026.
INDIA APOLOGIZES: Deerfield’s Vince India, the reigning Illinois Open champion, regrets having violated the PGA Tour’s Integrity Program and plans to continue competing after his six-month suspension expires on March 17, 2024.
A regular on the Korn Ferry Tour, India admitted gambling on golf tournaments in which he did not compete. He issued his apology on social media outlets.
“I’m confident I’ll grow from this….and ultimately come out a better person and player and continue my goal to play golf at the highest level,’’ said India.
JDC PAYOFF: The John Deere Classic, Illinois’ only annual PGA Tour event, announced that its Birdies for Charity program produced a record $14.1 million payoff for its 478 participating charities from its July staging at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis.
BELLAIR, Florida – Changing times on the LPGA Tour are unlike the PGA-LIV soap opera on the men’s circuit, but the women are in the progress of some adjusting, too – starting with the name of the season’s penultimate tournament. Instead of using the name of the host club in the title, what was the Pelican is now The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican.
It honors Annika Sorenstam, one of golf’s all-time greats. It’s the first time an LPGA tournament has been named in honor of a player, and more legends might be recognized down the road.
“It’s important to have history involved in the game,’’ said Stacy Lewis, the U.S. Solheim Cup captain. “It’s important for these girls to know the players that have come before them. Fortunately, everybody knows Annika. I wish we had more of them because there are a lot of players that played even before Annika that we probably haven’t done a good job of honoring. There needs to be more of it.’’
Betsy King, Nancy Lopez and Kathy Whitworth have been similarly honored at tournaments, but not quite like Sorenstam. The Annika has a bigger purse ($3.25 million, biggest on the LPGA circuit minus the majors and CME event) and a better field than was the case in the event’s three seasons as the Pelican. The signage and décor very much highlighted Sorenstam’s connection to the event.
One difference was evident even before Thursday’s first round was over when darkness set in at 5:48 p.m. with one player still to finish. Nelly Korda, the champion the last two years, had a less-than-ideal start. Though she shot a 67 on the par-70 Donald Ross design course, Korda trailed nine of the players who also had morning starting times and she was tied for 31st when Thursday’s play ended. Canadian Brooke Henderson was the leader with an 8-under-par 62.
Lexi Thompson, runner-up twice in the previous three years, started in the afternoon and posted a 64 with a lot of added pressure. The CME Group Tour Championship, the biggest money event in women’s golf with $7 million on the line, is coming up Nov. 16-19 to conclude the season. Only 60 players will qualify for the CME at another Florida facility, Tiburon in Naples. (Tiberon will also be the site of a new December event in which some LPGA players team up with players on the PGA Tour).
Thompson, who has missed the cut in eight tournaments this year and had only two top-10 finishes, stands 88th in the point standings so she needs to climb the leaderboard before the tourney ends on Sunday. New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, another top player for many years, is also on the outside of the CME field, too. She stands 101st.
Stacy’s Solheim Cup team is also smarting from a 14-14 tie in Spain, which enabled their European counterparts to retain possession of the trophy.
“I hate how it finished because I felt we played good enough to win,’’ said Lewis, who will return as the American captain the next time the bi-annual event is played. “There are definitely some changes to be made.’’
The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame will induct its 20th class on Friday, Nov. 10, and selection committee chairman Tim Cronin says “it couldn’t be more diverse or vibrant.’’
Heading the six-member class are two long-time club professionals, Tim O’Neal and Bruce Patterson, and Dr. Randy Kane, who served as the first Chicago District Golf Association turfgrass director from 1985-2006.
Also headed for enshrinement are Taylorville’s Dave Ryan, who has dominated the state’s senior amateur competition for more than a decade; Margaret Abbott Dunne, the first woman to win an Olympic competition in 1900; and Harry Collis, who excelled as a player, club professional, course architect, superintendent and turfgrass innovator over a 40-year career spent mostly at Flossmoor Country Club.
The induction ceremony will be held at The Glen View, in Glenview, which is the home of the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame. The Hall inducted its first class in 1989 and selections are made by a state-wide committee every two years.
O’Neal spent most of his career at North Shore Country Club, in Glenview, and Patterson was the long-time director of golf at Butler National, in Oak Brook. Patterson was instrumental in creating the Illinois PGA Foundation and O’Neal is its current president.
A SMALL MILESTONE: Mike Small, the University of Illinois’ men’s coach, finished third in last week’s Senior PGA Professionals Championship in Florida and earned one of the 35 berths in next May’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, which includes touring professionals, at Harbor Shores, in Michigan.
Small’s most recent success came after he claimed two Illinois Section PGA titles in August. He took the Illinois PGA Championship for the 14th time and the Illinois Senior PGA crown for the sixth time. The latter made Small the winningest PGA professional across all of the organization’s 41 sections.
SETBACK FOR INDIA: Deerfield’s Vince India, the reigning Illinois Open champion, was hit with a six-month suspension by the PGA Tour for violation of its “Integrity Program.’’ The program, updated in 2021, is designed “to mitigate betting-related corruption in PGA Tour competitions.’’
India, 34, was suspended for betting on PGA Tour events in which he was not a competitor. He has been on the Korn Ferry Tour since 2015, has made 176 starts and has career earnings on all levels of the PGA Tour of $662,823. His suspension started on Sept. 18 and will end on March 17, 2024. India declined to comment on the matter.
HERE AND THERE: Though the LIV Tour hasn’t announced its 2024 schedule yet a tentative version did not include a return to Rich Harvest Farms or any other Chicago area course. Rich Harvest hosted tournaments in the first two seasons of the fledgling circuit with Cameron Smith winning in 2022 and Bryson DeChambeau this year.
The CDGA has announced its Players of the Year. Mac McClear, of Hinsdale, and T.J. Barger, of Bloomington, were named co-players of the year and Mike Henry, of Bloomington, won in the Senior division. All three were first-time honorees in the CDGA competition.
Mike Scully, former head professional at Medinah when the club hosted the 2006 PGA Championship and 2012 Ryder Cup, has moved on to Kinsale, in North Naples, FL. Scully will be the new club’s general manager and director of golf. It’s scheduled to open in the fall of 2024. Scully, a member of Illinois’ 1984 Rose Bowl team, is coming to Kinsdale from Streamsong Resort, another Florida venue.
LIV Tour’s second season is history. The team championship at Doral created great drama and was an appropriate ending to the 2023 campaign.
Now, however, the real fun begins.
LIV chief executive officer Greg Norman took at least a brief look ahead during lulls in the action at Doral.. He started by confirming that he hasn’t been a part of the mysterious negotiations between LIV, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour and still declaring that he’s not worried about his job.
There’s no reason he should be. LIV made progress in Year 2 and Norman was a big reason, but there’s so much more to do.
“Our next couple months are probably going to be my most exciting time,’’ Norman told a small but select media contingent. “We’re going through the relegation process, the trade process, building out the teams to a position that each captain wants to negotiate. All that stuff is really going to energized it.’’
True, but there are some things that concern me and should concern others who have closely followed this changing world in golf:
WORLD RANKINGS: Something has to change, for the good of the game as a whole and not just for LIV, which continues to be snubbed by the Official World Golf Rankings. The OWGR are a joke without LIV players being recognized. Limiting their appearances in the major championships only denigrates those tournaments, all of which should want the strongest fields possible. How do you get that with a LIV presence?
LIV players can try to qualify for the U.S. Open and British Open but won’t be eligible for the Masters or PGA Championship. Those are basically the only opportunities for the best players in the world to compete against each other. How should Talor Gooch, for instance, be kept out of anything after winning three times on the LIV and have seven other top-15 finishes – and winning over $33 million – this season? Oh, yes. Gooch’s current world ranking is No. 201. Ridiculous!
SCHEDULE: At this time LIV hasn’t announced its 2024 schedule. Sports Illustrated presented an unofficial version a few weeks ago, and it concerns me. It listed only 14 events – the same as this year. I would have expected a bigger schedule in Year 3. The SI version – if accurate – didn’t include a return to Chicago. That strikes home with me, of course, as my long-time home base has been short-changed by the PGA Tour regarding annual tournaments in recent years. LIV’s stop at Rich Harvest Farms in the suburb of Sugar Grove helped alleviate the problem and that event was generally recognized as one of LIV’s most popular stops the first two years. So what happened? It’s a story that I’ll be following, to be sure.
TEAM ASPECT: I’ve been on hand at three LIV events and each time the team aspect was improved. Having a Brooks Koepka-Phil Mickelson matchup to start play at Doral was terrific. Still, the teams need to be differentiated better. Same color team shirts each day perhaps?
RELEGATION: LIV is doing it right. A three-day Promotions event was announced at Doral. It’ll be played Dec. 8-10 in Abu Dahbi — a 54-hole event, a $1.5 million purse and a cut to the low 20 after 36 holes. Size of the field and identity of the participants will be key. It should provide some meaningful offseason drama.
SCOREBOARDS: I’m still not happy with what I see, either at the courses or on the TV telecasts. The scoreboards are hard to follow, which may be inevitable given the shotgun start format. On TV the score list with players names abbreviated in some instances makes for difficult reading, as the type is inevitably small to accommodate all the information that is bring provided. While I don’t have all the answers to this one, more thought is needed to upgrade the situation.
That sums up 2023, an overall good year for this fledgling circuit. Let’s see some significant new player signings, some eye-catching trades and a bigger schedule. That “framework agreement’’ with the PGA can wait. It’s not much of an “agreement’’ anyway.
Norman and Bubba Watson revealed that numerous inquiries to purchase teamwould be were already in the works. Phil Mickelson has been talking to more PGA Tour players and “knows’’ more will be making the jump to LIV.
Gooch and Bryson DeChambeau’s Crushers are now the champions to beat in what promises to be LIV’s best season yet in 2024. Bring it on!!
BELLEAIR, FL. — Annika Sorenstam was a legendary player before she stepped away from the LPGA Tour in 2008. Now she’s back again in a variety of roles, most notably as the host of a revitalized tournament called The ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican.
The Pelican Golf Club, on the outskirts of Tampa, hosted the LPGA circuit for tournaments beginning in 2020. It was called the Pelican Women’s Championship then and Nelly Korda goes into the revised version as the two-time defending champion.
Sorenstam’s presence changed the event considerably from when Pelican was the title sponsor. This year’s penultimate event on the LPGA schedule has an elevated purse of $3.25 million, the largest outside of the major championships and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples. Marci Doyle has come from the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational to assume the executive director’s role at The Annika.
The Annika effect also showed in the field. Eight of the world’s top 10 and 16 of the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to compete this time around, headed by Korda and world No. 1 Lilia Vu. Also in the stacked field are major championship winners Brooke Henderson, Lydia Ko, Danielle Kang and Lexi Thompson.
So, why is Sorenstam here?
“When I stepped away in 2008 it was a step away from competitive golf, but I wasn’t stepping away from the game,’’ said Sorenstam. “It was more what can I do to share my passion and knowledge or inspire the next generation. It started with the foundation, then a few things all connected. I’m still here, and I want to do things. I want to inspire. I want to grow women’s golf, and all the things that this tournament stands for are things that I stand for personally.’’
At the Media Day she shared the spotlight with Elizabeth Szokol, a Pelican member who won for the first time on the LPGA circuit this year, and Louise Rydqvist, a Swedish player who is a junior at the University of South Carolina. She will make her first LPGA appearance as a sponsor’s exemption at The Annika.
“I played the Annika Cup in Sweden and then I played her Annika Invitational in Europe,’’ said Rydqvist. Then I came to college and I played her intercollegiate event. Now, all of a sudden, it’s kind of closing the full circle. It’s very surreal, and I’m super, super thankful to be here.’’
Sorenstam has made a few tournament appearances and her husband-caddie Mike McGee says she’s also become the main swing coach for their son Will. The 13-year old, who plays daily with the sons of Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter at Lake Nona, made a big splash playing in the PNC event in Orlando last year. Annika and Will were paired with Tiger and Charlie Woods. Mike has also been a go-between for Annika’s projects involving the LPGA.
“I have a long wish list of things I want to achieve at the Annika Foundation,’’ she said. “We started at the end of 2007, and 15 years later we have seven global tournaments. We are in different parts of the world. We do different initiatives, whether it’s six year olds to 12 year olds to 22 year olds. We started with different initiatives this year. It’s a development program for young players who just left college and are now turning professional.’’
What Sorenstam has done for women’s golf is nothing short of terrific – and much needed if the game is to grow. Her role at the inaugural Annika hasn’t been clearly defined yet. She was asked if she’d hit the ceremonial first tee shot. Surely she’ll do much more than that.’’
“I am playing in the pro-am. I’m committed to that’’ she said. “I look forward to that, but I’m a host and I’m up for anything to make this tournament great.’’
The pro-am is on Wednesday, Nov. 8. Then there’ll be four rounds of tournament play on the private course, a Donald Ross original design that has been redesigned by Beau Welling.
Andy Mickelson, the director of golf at Mistwood in Romeoville, is the Illinois PGA’s Player of the Year. He did it with only one win, in the section’s first stroke play event, but his consistency in 10 other competitions earned him enough Bernardi Player of the Year points to win the prestigious honor.
“Winning the Illinois PGA Player of the Year is a huge accomplishment for me,’’ said Mickelson. “I put a lot of time and effort into my game, and it’s cool to see it pay off. It seemed like I had a lot of top-10s to go along with the one win but a couple of second place finishes and good runs at our majors helped put me over the edge.’’
Mickelson clinched Player of the Year with a tie for fifth-place finish in the season-ending IPGA Players Championship.
The Assistant Player-of-the-Year award went to Rockford’s Kevin Flack who finished into the top 10 in all nine assistants competitions and won four of them.
BIG YEAR FOR THE HAWK: Brian Carroll, head pro at The Hawk in St. Charles, won, the IPGA Players title for the second straight year at Twin Orchard, in Long Grove. He had to hold off one of his teaching staff members, Roy Biancalana, and Kevin Flack, from Rockford’s Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Club, to get that win.
Biancalana, though, had a great season as well. He defended his IPGA Senior Match Play title at Chicago’s Ridge Country Club in Chicago and now stands tied with Jim Sobb, the former pro at Ivanhoe, as the only player to win that event three times. Biancalana took his trio of titles in consecutive years.
LEADER OF THE ARCHITECTS: Michael Benkusky, of Lake in the Hills, has been elected president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He’ll serve in that capacity through the fall of 2024.
Originally from Iowa, Benkusky’s design portfolio includes two prominent Illinois courses, Canyata, in Marshall, and St. Charles Country Club. His other credits include Point O’Woods, in Michigan, and Palm Aire’s Champions Course in Florida.
GOULD JOINS CDGA: Robbie Gould, who played 11 of his 18 National Football League seasons for the Bears, has joined the Chicago District Golf Association as its Brand Ambassador.
A prominent NFL kicker, Gould holds a 2.7 handicap as a golfer and competes on the Celebrity Tour.
“Robbie epitomizes what it means to be Better Through Golf,’’ said Robert Markionni, the CDGA executive director. “Whether competing as a talented player himself, using the game to give back, or engaging with other golfers, we have long admired Robbie’s affinity for golf. We look forward to joining forces with him in an effort to elevate the game we all love.’’
There’s no need to rehashing this Ryder Cup. Europe’s 16 ½-11 ½ win in Italy on Sunday was marked by extraordinary emotion, some controversy and more frustration for Team USA, which hasn’t won on foreign soil since 1993.
It was, at least, great theater and there’ll be more of that when the competition is played next at Bethpage Black in New York in two years.
For now it’s most appropriate to focus on just two things: what was the main reason Europe won again, and why did the USA get soundly beaten just two years after its record 19-9 romp at Wisconsin’s Whistling Straits two years ago.
The biggest reason the Euros won was obvious. Luke Donald was by far the superior captain. And to think that the former Northwestern great wasn’t the guy the European selectors really wanted. They gave the job to Sweden’s Henrik Stenson first, then took it away when Stenson joined the LIV Tour. Only then did Donald get the job he so badly wanted – and deserved.
Donald played on four European teams and compiled a 10-4-1 record as a player. He most memorably played a key role in his team’s come-from-way-behind win in the “Meltdown at Medinah’’ in 2012. He also served as a vice captain on two European teams.
No wonder he was choking back tears moments after Rickie Fowler conceded a match to Tommy Fleetwood, which gave Europe the points needed for victory.
“This was always something I dreamed about,’’ said Donald, “and it’s been a wave of emotions, starting with asking myself if I could really do this.’’
Once he got the job Donald had to build a roster without some mainstays of the past. Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and the six other DP World Tour members who defected to the LIV circuit were ruled ineligible for Ryder Cup selection. U.S. captain Zach Johnson was allowed to pick them, though he selected only Brooks Koepka with his captain’s picks.
Donald built an interesting roster that included Justin Rose, at 45 by far the oldest player in the latest Ryder Cup, and two very young untested rookies in Robert McIntyre and Ludvig Aberg. Then came the speeches at opening ceremonies. Donald’s was outstanding and inspirational. It carried over to the competition.
What was the main reason the U.S. lost this time? That’s pretty obvious, too. Nine of the 12 U.S. players didn’t compete for five weeks prior to the matches. If it were one of the four major championships there’s no way any of those players would have bypassed five weeks of tournaments leading in. This year it was vacation time after the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Prior to Whistling Straits there was only a three-week gap.
The U.S. could event get a full team to its lone early practice on the competition site. Two players – Patrick Cantlay and best friend Xander Schauffele – skipped the team trip to Italy because it conflicted with Cantlay’s bachelor party.
The DP World Tour had tournaments right up until the Ryder Cup, and European team members competed. Europe players were simply more committed than the U.S. players were. Simple as that.
HERE AND THERE
Only Illinois alum Adrien Dumont de Chassart has advanced from the Korn Ferry Tour to the PGA Tour for next season. The top 75 on the point list still have a chance, and Lake Forest’s Brad Hopfinger (No. 61) and Illinois alum Brian Campbell (75) have qualified for the season-ending Korn Ferry Tour Championship. It tees off on Thursday at Victoria National in Indiana. Only the top 30 move on to the premier circuit.
The last championship of the Chicago District Golf Association’s 110th season concludes this week when the CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball ends its four-day run at Elgin Country Club on Thursday. The CDGA will also conduct the qualifier for the U.S. Four-Ball on Oct. 10 at Bittersweet, in Gurnee.
The Illinois PGA will determine its Player of the Year at the Oct. 9-10 Players Championship at Twin Orchard, in Long Grove. Mistwood’s Andy Mickelson leads the Bernardi point standings followed by two Rockford players, Chris French and Kevin Flack. Kyle Donovan of Oak Park and last year’s winner, Brian Carroll of The Hawk in St. Charles, round out the top five. Also on the line is the IPGA Senior Players Championship Oct. 16-17 at Ruth Lake, in Hinsdale.
Golfers on Golf, Chicago’s longest standing golf radio show, has concluded its 33rd season.
Northwestern concludes its two-day Windy City Classic women’s tournament on Tuesday at the Glen Club in Glenview.
PINEHURST, North Carolina – These are extraordinary times for the “Cradle of American Golf.’’
The U.S. Golf Association will begin unveiling its new campus in Pinehurst on Dec. 1. This six-eight acre spot will evolve leading into the U.S. Open in June, 2024. That may turn out to be the most significant addition to the golf industry, but — shortly before the big tournament — Pinehurst No. 10 will become the first new design to open at the resort in nearly three decades. Its opening is scheduled for April 3.
In between the two openings the USGA will be working its way into a new era, and it’s been a long time coming. Discussion about the move from New Jersey to Pinehurst started during the frequent rain delays during the 2009 U.S. Open in New York. Now those talks have come to fruition.
“Our campus all along was to showcase all our values, not just our championships,’’ said Janeen Driscoll, director of brands communications for the USGA. “This community only knows us for the U.S. Opens we bring here. We truly believe this is the center of the golf universe, and we’re going to give back.’’
The USGA received $27 million from the state of North Carolina to help bolster economic development and Pinehurst donated the land.
Pinehurst also produced 1,200 on its volunteer wait list, community involvement that impressed the USGA, and the organization was also interested in working with the well-regarded North Carolina State University agronomy program.
Several Pinehurst people were hired by the USGA to open an office after the 2005 U.S. Open was played at Pinehurst No. 2. It was a small operation – a max of 20 staffers to focus on U.S. Open matters – while the corporate office remained in New Jersey. There are 350 people based there.
With the shift in headquarters the Pinehurst office staff will max out at 65. It’s a massive facility built on land that had been used for tennis courts and is located between The Carolina Hotel and the first tee of Pinehurst No. 2 with the address of 3 Carolina Vista.
One wing of the complex will house administrative offices and the equipment testing center. The other will have the USGA Experience on the bottom floor and the World Golf Hall of Fame on the higher floors.
At our museum in New Jersey most everything is about the history of golf,’’ said Driscoll. “About 90 percent of our collection is in a vault below ground, though, and most people don’t get to see it. We have golf bags of most every president, books dating back to 1400 and a very rich art collection related to the game of golf. That’s why we built this. It’s not just to look back at history.’’
The World Golf Hall of Fame started in Pinehurst in the 1970s. Upon its return the Pinehurst Resort wil become the site of the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies every year a U.S. Open is held in Pinehurst. The next inductions will be sponsored by CME Group next June 10.
Some items from the New Jersey museum will be brought to Pinehurst and exhibits will change every six months. The walk through the USGA Experience and Hall of Fame will be seamless.
The USGA Experience will feature a championship gallery, interactive exhibits, movie shorts and video clips that will intrigue golf devotees.
“It’ll give us a chance to story-tell more than we had in New Jersey,’’ said Driscoll, a golf industry veteran who has been a Pinehurst area resident since 2000. “This will be almost double the size of what we have in New Jersey.’’
The equipment test center in New Jersey will be demolished and moved to Pinehurst. The new headquarters will also be a base for the USGA to develop a national team similar to what other countries have.
That’ll be headed by Heather Daly Donofrio, who came over from the Ladies PGA Tour to become USGA managing director of player relations and development. In September Chris Zambri, associate head men’s coach at Pepperdine University, was named the first head coach of the U.S. National Development Program.
ALL THESE NEW THINGS tend to overshadow the hard work put in by the longstanding members of the Pinehurst golf industry. The course at the Talamore Resort, for instance, once was known for the llamas that graze in an area on the back nine. That’s still a novel feature, but the course has been renovated and is now called The New Course and its practice range includes Trackman technology.
Talamore has been an old favorite. This time we were introduced to Southern Pines, which has its own following. Those golfers just got a new 18-hole putting course, called Overhills. It’s a Kyle Franz design.
ABERDEEN, North Carolina – The Pinehurst area has dubbed itself “Cradle of American Golf,’’ and there’s no argument here – especially given what’s coming soon.
The Pinehurst Resort has announced that it’ll open its 10th course, called Pinehurst 10, on April 3, 2024. Soon after that the U.S. Golf Association will open its Golf House Pinehurst to the public on July 1 with the World Golf Hall of Fame to be ready soon after that. The USGA is moving is headquarters from New Jersey to Pinehurst and the Hall of Fame is being shifted from St. Augustine, FL. Construction is well underway on both projects, to be located between The Carolina Hotel and the No. 1 tee of Pinehurst No. 2, the site of the 2024 U.S. Open in June.
For the golf traveler, the opening of a 10th course may be more significant – especially when you know that Pinehurst No. 11 is already on the drawing board. No. 10 also has USGA ties.
“Pinehurst gave us 40 acres of land over there, some of which will be used as our test pavilion for clubs and balls’ compliance,’’ said Janeen Driscoll, director of brand communications for the USGA. Turfgrass research may also be done there, too.
First things first. No. 10 will have a good story to tell once it opens. Reservations are already being taken for players wanting to be among the course’s first players. It’ll be the first original course built by Pinehurst in nearly three decades.
No. 10 is a Tom Doak design that was put together in a surprisingly short time on land that once housed The Pit, a Dan Maples design that was built in the early 1980s. Its revival was rumored for a long time. This is no revival story, however.
“The Pit was successful for a long period,’’ said Bob Farren, director of golf course & grounds management at Pinehurst. “Traveling guys always wanted to play The Pit. It had its niche. It was really a unique golf course – rugged, short, mounds of dirt. It was successful for 25 years. Then Michael Strantz built Tobacco Road.’’
Farren describes Tobacco Road as “a larger-scale version of The Pit.’’
“It became the next must-play course, and that didn’t bode well for The Pit, ‘’ said Farren. “In 2008-09 we owned the property by it, and The Pit had been closed. Pinehurst bought it in 2010, and that brought us up to 900 acres over there.’’
For a decade nothing was done with that land, then the decision-makers came to an agreement. Doak would build a new course there, but getting the project going wasn’t easy.
“Tom wanted to do the job, but couldn’t do it until 2025 or 2026 (because of other projects he was working on),’’ said Farren. “We wanted it done this year. Tom said that could be done, but it’d have to be finished by September. We had doubts about that, what with getting permits and things like that.’’
Getting a crew together at short notice was a problem, too. A New Jersey firm said it could have 65 people there in January, but two-thirds would have to be taken away (for other projects) in six months. No problem. The work would begin. Clearing started in late December of 2022 and the real work started in January. Angela Moser came on site as Doak’s associate architect and when we visited in mid-September Pinehurst No. 10 looked very much like a soon-to-be intriguing golf course.
While that work was being done the Pinehurst hierarchy was already making plans for No. 11. Nothing’s been announced yet, but Farren is sure it will be coming. The architects have been chosen and preliminary work has begun. This project has an interesting history, as well.
“Robert Trent Jones (Sr.) had owned the property there, and we bought it,’’ said Farren. “Rees Jones (son of Robert Sr.) had built our No. 7 course and the first version of No. 4.’’
A Jones-designed course was planned for that property when Pinehurst bought the land.
“Then 9/11 happened. We had wanted to build a village there but then we had to put a chain on the gates,’’ said Farren.
That’s where the No. 11 project stands now, but probably not for long.
“No. 10 will be a concept for 3-5 years, then it’ll be a destination by itself with No. 11 beside it,’’ said Farren. “We’ve got the routing on the ground. There’ll be cottages so people can stay on the property.’’
A tour of No. 10 with Farren verified his claim that “it’ll be an entirely different course than The Pit. It’ll be cut from the same fabric as No. 2 and No. 4 together – broad, expansive fairways, centipede turf rough with native sandscape and some wiregrass plants in the bunkers.’’
The 10th hole of No. 10 will be a 640-yard monster with lots of humps and bumps. There won’t be much water on the course, mainly just an irrigation pond at No. 17, and when it opens the course will be walking-only with caddies. With 75 feet of elevation change it’ll make for a good walking course.
Nos. 9 and 15 will share a tee placement. There’ll be three types of bunkers, and they’ll be hazards with native plants in them. A bald eagle has made a home at No. 10 but the most talked about hole will be the par-4 eighth. The tee shot there will be over (or around) an unusually high mound and four more such mounds surround the green. It’ll be a hole you won’t forget.
One thing won’t be ready at opening. There won’t be a clubhouse until 2025. The last remnant of The Pit is its old clubhouse. It’s still standing, and has been used to house interns working on the course. For now it’s a landmark, but down the road probably not.
The results of Sunday’s LIV Chicago tourney at Rich Harvest Farms create the need for another look at the U.S. team for this week’s Ryder Cup in Italy.
Captain Zach Johnson has been criticized for passing on Keegan Bradley as a captain’s pick and choosing Justin Thomas, who had a disappointing (for him) season, instead. Johnson also had detractors because he put a LIV player on the 12-man team. Brooks Koepka had played in the last three Ryder Cups, won this year’s PGA Championship and finished second in the Masters.
Second-guessing the captains is always part of the Ryder Cup preliminaries, and European captain Luke Donald has taken heat for not picking Poland’s Adrian Meronk.
In Johnson’s case, the debate resumed after Bryson DeChambeau shot 63 at Rich Harvest to rally for from an eight-stroke deficit to get the victory. Just a few weeks ago DeChambeau won the LIV stop at Greenbriar, in West Virginia, with a 58-61 performance in the weekend rounds on a course that had hosted the PGA Tour in recent years.
Johnson tweeted about how he was impressed by DeChambeau’s accomplishment at the Greenbriar and strongly hinted he would put him on the U.S. team. His opinion apparently changed after that but DeChambeau’s play didn’t tail off. After his win Sunday DeChambeau said he was playing “the most consistently good golf of my life’’ and said he is in better form now than when he won the U.S. Open at New York’s Winged Foot in 2020.
“This stretch is pretty sweet to me,’’ he said, but he’ll miss playing in the Ryder Cup.
“It would have been nice to at least have a call from Zach,’’ said DeChambeau. “That stings a little. After all, we’re still golfers out here. I don’t know who made the decisions, but it would have been nice for him to consider a few more of us because we’re pretty good out here.’’
The future of LIV remains a mystery despite the announcement of a “merger’’ with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. There’s no merger yet, and negotiations have been hush-hush. The PGA Tour announced its schedule for 2024. LIV didn’t.
Rich Harvest owner Jerry Rich declined interview requests on the status of the two-year old stop on his course, and LIV’s Greg Norman was very evident at the tourney, even walking with the leading players on Sunday, but he wasn’t making any comments, either.
A LIV source said the circuit’s schedule for next season would be announced “in four-to-six weeks.’’ LIV has two more tournaments in October to complete its 14-tournament season. It had only eight events in its first campaign.
The PGA Tour’s 2022-23 season ended with the FedEx Playoffs in August, ending its wrap-around scheduling.
As for DeChambeau he’s not reached the level of Hale Irwin in success on Illinois courses yet. Irwin won the Western Open at Butler National, the U.S. Open at Medinah and took several titles in PGA Tour Champions events, most of them at Kemper Lakes. He retains the title of “Mr. Chicago.’’
DeChambeau’s three in-state wins are impressive, though, and he’s hard-pressed to explain it, just like Irwin was.
“It’s the bluegrass, baby!’’ DeChambeau said. “It’s really the grass, the air. I don’t know, but there’s something about the greens. I’m comfortable. I grew up on grass like that.’’
Like all the LIV players questioned about the future of their circuit, DeChambeau was quick to defend his tour. The others, questioned in casual conversation, all said they wanted to stay with LIV rather than go back to the PGA Tour.
Sooner or later, there’ll be a breakthrough and we’ll see what golf will look like in 2024 or 2025.
DeChambeau volunteered a tantalizing picture in his final thoughts before leaving town:
“I’m not going to describe it too much, but a lot of work in the offseason is going on. What I can tell you is that something special is going to happen next year.’’