The One is the latest and greatest when it comes to golf gloves

No matter what the angle, The One looks different than all the other golf gloves.

Golf gloves don’t produce much excitement when new equipment hits the marketplace. Rarely is there much to talk about when it comes to new gloves, plus lots of players (me included) don’t even wear one.

In recent years Chicago-based Zero Friction introduced a one-glove-fits-all model and produced it in 13 colors. Pocketec Inc., in Stuart, Fla., introduced a glove with the pain relief properties of copper infused technology at this year’s PGA Merchandise Show and that big event also led to the arrival of The Claw, by CaddyDaddy of Arizona. It has a silicon mesh across the palm for better gripping and it’s also reportedly machine –washable.

For me, though, the most cutting edge of new golf gloves is The One. It’s a single finger glove that not only has a distinctive appearance, but also has – according to its supporters – many other advantages over traditional golf gloves.

“I’ve been involved with glove design and manufacturing for over 20 years,’’ said Dave Atkinson, the Champion Gloves president. “I’ve never seen a product like this. It has changed my mindset on how a glove should function and look.’’

The One is manufactured by Champion but isn’t one of the company’s products. Its
most vocal endorser is Nancy Fitzgerald. She won the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur in 1997 and the Canadian Senior Women’s Amateur in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

Fitzgerald lives near and plays out of Crooked Stick, one of Indiana’s premier private clubs, and is a member of the state golf halls of fame in both Indiana and Michigan. She was part of a four-person creative team that worked for nearly seven years on the concept of a one-finger glove. The others were Tom Clark, who owns the company; Chris Szilagyi and Atkinson.

They decided that traditional leather on the back of the glove wasn’t needed, and a suede material from Japan was used in the manufacturing process.

“It’ll last at least three times longer than a regular glove because of this material,’’ said Fitzgerald. “Purses and gloves have been made from this material. It’s so strong, you can’t put a hole in it. People can wash their hands with it on.’’

For players who don’t use a glove, The One may make them think twice.

“Now it’s either no glove or a five-finger glove,’’ said Fitzgerald. “I fell in love with this one. It doesn’t feel like you have a glove on.’’

While many golfers take their gloves off when putting, Fitzgerald says there’s no need for that with The One. It’s rain-proof, and players can wear rings and won’t have problems reaching into their pockets with the glove on.

It’ll also benefit players with restrictions, such as arthritis, and provides a cooler feel for players in hot weather.

Fitzgerald has brought the product to the attention of the U.S. Golf Association and expects the USGA to approve it for use in its championships.

“We can sell The One. We don’t need (USGA approval),’’ said Fitzgerald. “I just want it. I want them to be behind something that helps other people.’’

She expects the glove to sell for about $20 at golf shops. It’s now available through the company’s website, www.theonegolfglove.com.

Florida’s El Campeon lives up to its championship name

The par-5 seventeenth is the signature hole at El Campeon — and it’s very challenging for any golfer.

HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Florida – Mission Inn Resort & Club, on the outskirts of Orlando, has two golf courses. In most such multi-course facilities the feeling is `new newer, the better.’ That’s not the case here.

Mission Inn’s older course is El Campeon, built in 1917. Its new one, Las Colinas, isn’t all that new. Former PGA Tour player turned broadcaster Gary Koch designed it in 1992 and another of Florida’s favorite golf sons, full-time architect Ron Garl, touched it up in 2007.

Make no mistake, though. El Campeon – the 14th oldest course in Florida — is the resort’s bigger golf drawing card – and not just for tournament or recreational rounds. It’s also a film star.

El Campeon has much more elevation than most Florida courses, and that’s part of its charm.

“The PGA Tour heard about the beauty of El Campeon,’’ said Michael Bowery, Mission Inn’s director of golf. “It’s become a primary chosen location for golf filming.’’

In addition to the PGA Tour, which has used the course to film commercials for its sponsors, El Campeon has been used for filming purposes by Callaway, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Golf Channel and NBC Sports.

“So many courses are surrounded by homes, so (film-makers) can’t get wide shots,’’ said Bowery. “El Campeon has a lot of character and great vistas. It’s a parkland course with a Florida aspect to it. It’s got elevation, by Florida standards, but our hills are just little speed bumps. That’s what makes it so unusual.’’

NCAA championships (or regionals) have been played on El Campeon for 23 consecutive years and the Florida high school championships have visited the last nine years. The course has also hosted U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur qualifiers as well as qualifying tournaments for both the PGA’s Latinoamerica and Canadian (Mackenzie) tours.

“It’s a busy place,’’ said Bowery, in his eighth year on the job. He attended college at the University of Arizona with Bud Beucher, whose family has owned the facility since 1964. The Beuchers matriculated from the Chicago area

El Campeon has an interesting history. The little town in which it is located is named after William Howey, a citrus magnate. Howey, wanting something to entertain some of the visitors to his estate in the days immediately before World War I, hired George O’Neil to build him a golf course.

O’Neil was mainly a teacher in Chicago then, and he gave lessons to such diverse luminaries as former President Warren G. Harding, golfing greats Harry Vardon and Chick Evans, industrial giant John D. Rockefeller and film star Charlie Chaplin. O’Neil named the lakes on the course after some of the top Chicago clubs – Beverly, Flossmoor and Skokie.

At first the course was called Chain O’Lakes. It measured 6,300 yards, and there was no grass on the greens from its opening in 1917 until 1938. The putting surfaces consisted of well-oiled sand. Visitors stayed at the Bougainvillea Hotel until it burned down in 1920.

The Bougainvillea was replaced by the new Hotel Floridian, and the course visitors included Ben Hogan Patty Berg and Babe Zaharias before Nick Beucher, Bud’s father, took over the place and transformed it into a Spanish colonial-themed resort. El Campeon got its name after Nick Beucher took over and a Scottish architect, Charles Clarke, refurbished the course.

Now it measures 7,001 yards. Following several re-routing and renovation efforts, the layout has 85 feet of elevation changes. Bowery believes the low round on it was a 64 by Dustin Johnson.

Most famous (or infamous) hole on the course in No. 17. Called Devil’s Delight, it may be the toughest par-5 in Florida. A double dogleg that measures 556 yards from the back tee, its 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 have been hit by one of the hurricanes that occasionally visit the area, but so far that hasn’t happened.

Water comes into play on 14 holes, most notably No. 16. It’s a par-4 that finishes on an island green. Another hole is called “Island Green.’’ It’s No. 8, a 190-yard par-3. It’s the only hole on the course that plays in the same spot in the rotation as it did when O’Neil completed his design.

Cog Hill is back on the calendar as the site for a big-time event

Chicago’s biggest public golf facility will soon by back in the national – if not the world – spotlight.

Cog Hill, in Lemont, was named Tuesday as the site of the 45th annual World Long Drive Championship. It’ll be held Sept 3-9 with national television coverage on The Golf Channel. The event will be held under the lights the last two days.

This is a big breakthrough for Cog Hill and the Jemsek family, which has been a leader in Chicago golf over nearly nine decades. The 72-hole facility last hosted top level competitive golf in 2011, the last year the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship was played on the facility’s Dubsdread course.

Dubsdread was the site of the history-rich Western Open from 1991 until 2006. That event, which had been contested 103 times over a 108-year span, was converted to a FedEx Cup Playoff event and was moved off its traditional Fourth of July weekend dates.

The playoff event was shifted to August and the Western Golf Association opted to play the tournament at sites away from Chicago every other year. The tournament was last held on Dubsdread in 2011. Then its Chicago site was Conway Farms, in Lake Forest, for three stagings. Last year it was played at Medinah and this year it will be staged at Olympia Fields in August.

The Jemsek family, long-time owners of Cog Hill, had been trying to land a high profile event ever since the BMW was last played there but had no suggest until landing the World Long Drive. The club will construct a custom hitting grid that will be used throughout the competition.

“We’re thrilled,’’ said Cog Hill president Katherine Jemsek. “Long drive championships are in our blood.’’

Her grandfather, Joe Jemsek, won the World Fair’s Long Drive Championship in 1934 with a poke off an elevated hitting station that measured over 500 yards.

“Cog Hill’s tradition in the sport reflects our own storied history,’’ said Matt Farrell, executive director of the World Long Drive Assn. “We’re expanding our commitment to global development of the sport through a broader qualifying series that includes expansion to Asia and other parts of the world.’’

While the World Long Drive is new to Chicago, this year’s schedule of lead-in events includes a qualifier in Thailand and a series of regular stops around the country. The first is April 17-22 – the Clash in the Canyon in Mesquite, Nev. That was the site of the Long Drive finals from 2008-2012.

How important are golf course rankings to you?

Here’s a resort course that isn’t on Golfweek’s list but will always be on mine…..

….And so will this one. Can you name the courses and the resorts that they’re in?

I found this interesting. As most of you know, I give little credence to the course rankings provided annually by the various golf publications. Golfweek, though, just released its top 200 resort courses (as well as its top 200 in casino courses, residential courses and courses in the Caribbean and Mexico).

Being most interested in the resort layouts, I decided to check out how many of the Golfweek courses have been on our itineraries over the years. It turned out we are more on the same page than I could have imagined.

Of Golfweek’s top 10 the only one that I hadn’t either played or at least visited was No. 7 Shadow Creek. Of Golfweek’s top 20 I’d at least been on site of 17 and of the top 50 I’d either played or visited (in most cases, played) 35.

That said, my ranking order GREATLY differs from Golfweek’s and there were at least five courses that I couldn’t believe didn’t even crack the publication’s top 200. That’s not surprising. Ranking golf courses — just like ranking movies, automobiles or restaurants – is a very subjective thing. The fun is in just making the comparisons.

Good island vibes set Hilton Head apart as a golf destination

Hilton Head bills itself as “The Golf Island,’’ and – given all the great golf that can be played there — it’s hard to argue with that. There are some areas for concern, however.

Barry Fleming, executive director of the South Carolina Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association, believes Hilton Head still has one troublesome issue.

“One of the biggest misperceptions is where it is, because so many people haven’t been there,’’ said Fleming. “It’s at the bottom tip of South Carolina, two hours from the Florida line. It’s much warmer than Myrtle Beach and Pinehurst.’’

Two other well-known golf meccas — Myrtle Beach, also in South Carolina, and Pinehurst, in North Carolina — are both several hours to the north of Hilton Head. The winter weather in those destinations figures to be notably colder than it would be at Hilton Head.

The Hilton Head area is just much different place. Though it has some beautiful beaches, it’s more than an island. There are no neon signs and no street lights, and there’s an abundance of upscale restaurants. That’s the island aspect to the Hilton Head area.

Fleming’s organization encompasses not only the island, but also the towns of Bluffton and Beaufort. There’s almost as much golf played there as there is on the island. The South Carolina Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association has 15 member courses on the island and 14 off the island, but it’s only a 45-minute drive from end to end.

That can create some difficult decisions for Hilton Head’s golfing visitors. If money’s not a concern the must-stay location is the island’s Sea Pines Resort, home to Harbour Town (the site of the PGA Tour’s annual RBC Heritage Classic) and a couple other high-end layouts in Atlantic Dunes and Heron Point.

Not taking anything away from those courses, Fleming admits “it can’t always be Sea Pines.’’

And that couldn’t be any more true than this year. Based on some recent developments the must-play course in the Hilton Head area should be the Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course at the Palmetto Dunes Resort. It was deemed South Carolina’s Course-of-the-Year by a vote of its peers in 2018 and the SCLGCOA Course-of-the-Year for 2019.

Those are lofty accolades, given all the quality courses in South Carolina.

The Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course opened in 1969, seven years after golf made its debut on Hilton Head. The first 18-holer there was called the Ocean Course and now – after a fullscale renovation – is called Atlantic Dunes. The Ocean Course started the golf boom in the Hilton Head area.

Palmetto Dunes’ first layout also has the ocean reference and has always been among the most popular at Hilton Head, despite the fact that its name is a bit misleading. The ocean aspect is a major factor on only one hole, the signature par-5 tenth.

The course, though, is a true out-and-back links layout noted for having back-to-back par-5s (Nos. 9 and 10) that touch the island’s 12 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches. An 11-mile lagoon also provides water views on the back nine.

Like Sea Pines, Palmetto Dunes has three courses and the Robert Trent Jones Oceanfront Course isn’t the resort’s most difficult. Its George Fazio Course is the only par-70 layout on the island and has the area’s most testing four-hole finishing stretch.

By no means, though, should the golf focus be limited to the two big resorts, Sea Pines and Palmetto Dunes. The Heritage Golf Collection of courses has one that I particularly like, Oyster Reef. It was designed by Rees Jones, son of the original designer of Palmetto Dunes’ Oceanfront layout. It’s got some breath-taking views, too, and its No. 6 hole is one of the best par-3s in the Hilton Head area.

The Sea Pines, Palmetto and Heritage courses are all on the island. The off-island layouts provide some good options as well, with Hilton Head National and Old South Golf Links – both located in Bluffton — at the top of that list.

Another dramatic finish concludes the LPGA’s mini `Florida swing’

The duel between Madelene Sagstrom the Nasa Hataoka brought the fans to Boca Rio.

BOCA RATON, Florida – There’s no reason the LPGA shouldn’t play as many of its tournaments as possible in Florida. After all, the LPGA’s headquarters are in Daytona Beach and three of the circuit’s top stars — Lexi Thompson and Jessica and Nelly Korda – live there.

This year’s schedule called for four LPGA tournaments in the Sunshine state, including two new ones.

Holding the first two tournaments of 2020 in Florida wasn’t a bad idea, either. The drama was ideal in the first, a seven-hole playoff in the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions that eventually went to Mexico’s Gaby Lopez. It was halted early by darkness before Lopez wrapped up the title on Monday morning.

The second tournament was a better showcase for the skills of the players, particularly champion Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden. She made 11 birdies in the second round of the inaugural Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio en route to shooting a 62 on Friday. She followed that with a 67 on Saturday before surviving a Sunday duel with snakebit Japan veteran Nasa Hataoka.

“My goal was to stay patient and do what I did the previous two days,’’ said Sagstrom. “I had already beaten my demons by going 62-67. Winning was icing on the cake.’’

Madelene Sagstrom became the 12th golfer from Sweden to win on the LPGA Tour.

Hataoka lost to Lopez in the playoff in the limited field season opener and handed Sagstrom her first-ever LPGA win when she three-putted the 72nd hole for bogey at Boca Rio. Sagstrom ended up winning by one after making a clutch eight-footer for par on her last hole before Hataoka’s costly miss.

“I told myself, `Don’t look at a leaderboard,’’’ she said. “If you keep fighting anything can go your way. It was mind-blowing. This was just my week.’’

Sagstrom, 27, starred collegiately at Louisiana State and worked her way through the Symetra Tour before earning LPGA playing privileges. Though she was a captain’s pick for the 2017 Solheim Cup for Europe, she had never been ranked higher than No. 68 in the world and came into the Gainbridge event at No. 116. Sagstrom was also missing her regular caddie, and her boyfriend’s father was recruited to fill in.

That unlikely pair started the final round with a two-stroke lead on Hataoka with American Danielle Kang, who finished third, also in the mix. Those three were tied for the lead at one point on the back nine but the day’s key shots were Sagstrom’s holed bunker shot at No. 10 for a birdie that pulled her into a tie for the lead and Hataoka’s pushed putt from four feet on the 18th that would have forced a playoff.

Japan’s Nasa Hataoka has an unusual pre-shot routine. She bounces on her toes three times before hitting her shot, but it is effective. She was the runner-up in both of the LPGA’s first two events of 2020.

Sagstrom, in her fourth LPGA season, posted a final-round 70 for a 17-under-par 271 to win the $300,000 first prize from a $2 million purse.

Gainbridge was the first full-field event of the season for the LPGA and it kept tour golf coming to Boca. The PGA Champions Tour had made a habit of holding its first full-field event of the year in the South Florida city. This year that event, called the Boca Raton Championship on the Old Course at Broken Sound, was moved to October as part of the Champions’ season-ending playoff series.

With the Gainbridge tourney now history the LPGA will be on foreign soil for awhile. There’ll be two tournaments in Australia and one each in Japan, Thailand and China before the next American event – the March 19-22 Founders Cup in Phoenix.

Florida will be back on the LPGA schedule two more times before 2020 is out, however. The other new event of the 2020 campaign, the Pelican Women’s Championship, will be played at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair on May 14-17 and the usual season-ending climax CME Group Tour Championship at Tiburon in Naples, is Nov. 19-22. The CME event will have the biggest first-prize in women’s golf — $1.5 million.

Playoff loss to Lopez doesn’t cool Inbee Park’s enthusiasm for the Olympics

Not even these lights could keep the playoff for the LPGA’s Tournament of Champions going.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL. — Already the youngest player to earn her place in the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame, Korea’s Inbee Park – now 31 — hasn’t been anxious to get her seasons started. That changed this year, and for a good reason.

“I always started a little bit late, probably the end of February or early March,’’ said Park. “I’m starting early because it’s an important year, with the Olympics in the summer. There’s a lot of tournaments before the Olympics, and I just wanted to play courses I haven’t played before.’’

The Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Golf & Sports Club was the first, and Park played it well – except for one hole in Sunday’s playoff for the title in the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. That’s the first event on the LPGA’s schedule.

Park, who has 19 PGA Tour victories, was in position for No. 20 to start 2020. She took a two-stroke lead into the final round, lost it briefly but wound up in a playoff with Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and Mexico’s Gaby Lopez. Only the 211-yard par-3 eighteenth was used in the playoff.

On the third time around Park put her tee shot in the water, and her tournament was over. Hataoka and Lopez struggled through two more playoff holes before darkness halted play at 6:04 a.m. The playoff will resume at 8 a.m. on Monday.

“It’s a different experience,’’ said Lopez, “but I’m just happy to be able to have a chance for tomorrow.’’

She made it pay off, winning the title with a birdie putt on the seventh extra hole.

Hataoka, whose country will host the 2020 Olympics, had no problem with the stoppage in play on Sunday. “It was really tough to read the greens,’’ she said.

For Park is was a tough loss, but she wasn’t deflated.

“I played good golf this week, just not great today,’’ said Park. “I feel a lot of confidence after playing this week.’’

Japan’s Nassa Hataoka putts in the playoff with Gaby Lopez and Inbee Park looking on.

Park won the gold medal in 2016 in Brazil, when the sport returned to the Olympic Games. The other medalists – Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Shanshan Feng of China – bypassed the Tournament of Champions, an event that also included a celebrity division.

John Smoltz, one of the legendary pitchers in baseball history, defended his celebrity title without much of a problem, but the LPGA players were a much more competitive bunch. Park, Lopez and Hataoka were 13-under-par for the regulation 72 holes. Korean Mi Jung Hur charged in with an 8-under-par 63 and finished one stroke out of the playoffs, in a tie for fourth with Canadian Brooke Henderson. America’s best, Annie Park, finished with a 64 and wound up solo sixth.

Though Park was a five-shot winner in Brazil four years ago there’s no guarantee she will mount a title defense. She has to make the Korean team first, and last year she didn’t even win a tournament. Her Korean rivals, though, won 15 times in 2019. The U.S. was second in wins last year with just six.

“The U.S. men’s team is pretty tough but, in women’s golf, Korea has to be definitely the toughest team to make,’’ said Park. Sei Young Kim, paired with Park in the last group on Sunday, tied for seventh with American Lexi Thompson. Kim gave Korea three players in the top eight on Sunday.

Only four players per country can compete in the Olympics, which run July 24-Aug. 9 in Tokyo. The golf will be played at Kasumigaseki Country Club, which has hosted the Japan Open four times and most recently was the site of the Asian Amateur in 2010.

Only 26 LPGA players competed in the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions. The first full field event starts Thursday in Boca Raton, FL. It’s new $2 million event, called the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.

Seven didn’t turn out a lucky number for Small, Wu

This was a weird first tournament week of the season for two of Chicago’s most prominent golfers. Both Mike Small and Dylan Wu blew seven-stroke leads in their 2020 tournament debuts but still finished as runner-ups in their events.

Small, the University of Illinois men’s coach who owns 12 wins in the Illinois PGA Championship and four titles in the Illinois Open, didn’t compete much in 2019. There was a good reason for that. A shoulder injury that required extensive rehab limited his tournament play, but Small is on the comeback trail now.

This week he competed in the PGA Winter Series for the first time and opened 65-66 in the PGA’s Senior Stroke Play Championship at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, FL. The hot start gave Small a seven-stroke lead in the 54-hole event for players from across the nation in the 50-59 age group.

The 76 he shot in Tuesday’s final round cost him the championship but was hardly deflating. Small finished a stroke behind New York teaching pro Frank Esposito.

“I just came down here to see how the shoulder was,’’ said Small. “I had no expectations and was thrilled to be 13-under and make eight birdies in the first two rounds. I showed some resiliency.’’

GAINEY’S DAY: Wu, a 23-year old former Northwestern star, was seven ahead after two rounds in the first tournament of the Korn Ferry Tour season but he couldn’t hold his lead in the opener of the PGA Tour’s alternate circuit.

After opening 67-66 Wu slumped to 76-72 in the final two rounds and wound up in a tie for second, four strokes behind champion Tommy Gainey in the Bahamas Great Exuma Classic. It was Wu’s second runner-up finish on the Korn Ferry circuit, the first coming in the Lincoln Land Classic in Springfield last year.

Andy Pope of Glen Ellyn, back on the Korn Ferry Tour for the first time since 2012, tied for 44th in the season opener while the Korn Ferry’s other two Illinois players, Vince India and Nick Hardy, missed the 36-hole cut. They’ll be back in action quickly, as the second tournament – also in the Bahamas – tees off on Sunday.

CLOSINGS: Chicago’s local golf media contingent took a big hit this week when two long-time outlets announced their closings on the same day. Chicagoland Golf had published for 31 years as an in-season print publication, and The Scorecard on the Score was featured on WSCR Radio for 10. Both closed up shop in Monday and will be missed once the next season kicks in.

Chicagoland Golf was founded by the late Phil Kosin in 1989, and publisher Val Russell took it over following Kosin’s death in 2009. Russell directed the operation for 11 years. Ed Sherman and Steve Olken were co-hosts of The Scorecard, a popular weekend show throughout the local golf season.

HERE AND THERE: Kevin Buggy, a seven-time club champion at Park Ridge Country Club, is the new chairman of the Western Golf Assn. The 68th chairman in WGA history, Buggy succeeds Glen View’s Frank Morley.

Batavia-based Tour Edge has renewed its endorsement contracts with PGA Champions Tour stars Tom Lehman, Scott McCarron, Tom Petrovic and Duffy Waldorf.

Andy Micheli has left Cantigny as the Wheaton facility’s sales manager to become assistant general manager at Butler National in Oak Brook.

GOLF TRAVEL NOTEBOOK: Myrtle Beach is going after golfers — from Alaska?!

THE `NEW’ INNISBROOK: All the rooms at the Innisbrook Resort near Tampa, FL., were remodeled in honor of the facility’s 50th anniversary. Here’s what they look like now, and they’ll be filled when the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship is held on Innisbrook’s Copperhead course from March 19-22. Innisbrook, which has 72 holes, has hosted a nationally-televised PGA Tour event for the past 30 years.
The Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship is already the world’s largest tournament with its annual entry number around 3,200, but that’s apparently not good enough.

When the event tees off for the 37th straight year on Aug. 31 tournament director Scott Tomasello is hoping for a change in the field. There hasn’t been a player participating – at least in recent years – from Alaska so “The Last Frontier Sweepstakes’’ has been created to entice Alaskan golfers.

The winner will receive an expense-paid trip to Myrtle Beach for the 72-hole event that runs through Sept. 4. Players from 49 states and about 20 foreign countries will be there, but Alaskan representation remains a problem.

“If golfers from South Africa, Japan and India – among other nations – can annually play in the event we believe at least one Alaskan can join the party in 2020,’’ said Tomasello.

Time will tell if Tomasello is right, but the Myrtle Beach March Championship – dubbed the `Mini’ World Am, is already a sellout. It’ll have at least 224 players and a waiting list is being created for more. Deadline to enter the World Amateur is Feb. 23.

Another of Myrtle Beach’s most popular tournaments has a new name. What was the Calabash Cup – a 54-hole two-person team event – now has GolfTrek as its title sponsor. The sixth annual event, renamed the GolfTrek Challenge, will be played from June 11-14.

FRENCH LICK EXPANSION: Indiana’s French Lick Resort, which will again host tournaments on both the Symetra and LPGA tours this summer, has completed a major transformation project.

The six-story, 71-room six-suite Valley Tower has been opened adjacent to the resort’s casino and event center. It includes French Lick’s first ever Sports Book and Sports Viewing Lounge and its Valley Bar is the only 21-and-over eating establishment at the resort.

French Lick will host the Donald Ross Championship on the Symetra Tour from July 7-12 and the Senior LPGA Championship on the Pete Dye Course from July 29 through Aug. 1. The Senior LPGA, which was the first major championship for senior women when it made its debut in 2017, will have a new format. The championship will be played over 36 instead of 54 holes and two pro-ams will precede the main event.

The Valley Bar, the only 21-and-over eating establishment at French Lick Resort, is one of the features of a recent expansion project that resulted in a major upgrade at the Indiana resort.

IT’S SHOW TIME: Next week’s PGA Merchandise Show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL., will have an expanded travel program for golfers.

Its Travel Pavilion, located on the main floor of the center, will feature destinations from Argentina, Australia, Canada, the Dominican Republic, France, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Scotland, South Africa and Thailand.

There’ll also be a Golf Travel Forum, presented by PGA Magazine, at 9 a.m. on Thursday and hundreds of golf travel products will be included in the exhibits from more than 1,000 participating companies and brands.

HERE AND THERE

North Carolina is a state loaded with good courses, and a layout from the Outer Banks, The Pointe Golf Club, jumped into the latest Golf Advisor Golfers’ Choice rankings of the state’s best courses. The Pointe was No. 7 on the list, ahead of such favorites as Pinehurst No. 4, Pinehurst No. 9 and Tobacco Road.

Barefoot Resort, in North Myrtle Beach, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It became famous in 1999 when its four championship courses opened simultaneously. They were designed by Greg Norman, Davis Love III, Tom Fazio and Pete Dye. To commemorate the anniversary the resort is offering stay-and-play packages that included three rounds for the price of four and a three-night stay with a fourth night for free. They have to be booked by Jan. 31.

The Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at Desert Highlands, in North Scottsdale, Ariz., has re-opened following a $7 million renovation. Desert Highlands also recently welcomed Curtis Tyrrell as its new director of agronomy. Tyrrell was director of golf operations at Illinois’ Medinah Country Club before coming to Arizona as the replacement for the retired Phil Shoemaker. Shoemaker started at Desert Highlands in 1982 and was involved in the construction of the course.

The North Course at Florida’s Daytona Beach Golf Club has re-opened following a six-month renovation project. The renovation included a re-routing of the back nine holes. The previous version had par-5s for both Nos. 17 and 18, and they were among the hardest holes on the course. Now the old No. 17 is No. 10, which altered the rest of the back nine. Only the 18th has its same place in the rotation.

The Citrus Golf Trail, a group of courses in the Sebring, FL., area, has announced its participating courses for 2020. It includes the Sebring International Golf Resort, which was formerly Spring Lake Golf Resort. Other courses on the trail are Pinecrest, River Greens, Sebring Municipal and the Deer Run and Turtle Run courses at Sun ‘N Lake Golf Club. Inn on the Lakes is the hotel partner.

Diamondhead Country Club’s Cardinal Course, near Biloxi, MS., has re-opened following a three-month greens renovation process. Dan Hamman has also been hired as the superintendent at the 36-hole facility.

REMEMBERING PETE DYE: A giant in golf course architecture

It was back in 2010 that then Indiana governor Mitch Daniels triggered the creation of the Pete Dye Golf Trail to stimulate tourism in the Hoosier State.

The following year Joy and I became among the first to play all seven courses on it. Back then I wrote that Dye was the most innovative golf course architect of our time.

Dye died on Thursday at age 94, but nothing has changed in my assessment of his talents. No disrespect to Tom Fazio, Jack Nicklaus, Rees Jones, Robert Trent Jones, Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw, Tom Doak, Gil Hanse or any of the other celebrated architects of my generation, but I maintain that Dye was the best.

Among the stops when Joy and I toured the Pete Dye Golf Trail was at his first 18-hole design. The Indianapolis course is now called Maple Creek, but it was known as Heather Hills when it opened in 1961.
Though he didn’t do much work in Illinois Dye was prominent in Wisconsin (Blackwolf Run, Whistling Straits) and his native Indiana (Crooked Stick). And, one layout that bears his name – The Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort in the southern part of the Hoosier State – may be the best of his creations.

Harbour Town and TPC Sawgrass, as annual PGA Tour sites, have higher profiles and the Ocean Course at Kiawah in South Carolina has had its share of big events, too. Comparing Dye courses can be a thankless task, but playing them is always a treat.

His only Chicago area creation was Ruffled Feathers in Lemont (done with son P.B. Dye in 1991). Dye’s other Illinois credits are Oakwood, in Coal Valley; Tamarack, in O’Fallon; and Yorktown, in Belleville.

In 2020 the Western Amateur will be played at Crooked Stick, the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits and the Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick in addition to the The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass and the RBC Heritage Classic at Harbour Town. Those big events will underscore what a great architect Dye was.

For Joy and I his passing might fittingly trigger a return to the Pete Dye Golf Trail. In our first time around we played five of the seven courses in five consecutive days. We might not try that again, but we won’t forget the enjoyment received while playing Dye-designed layouts.

Our visit to Hilton Head Island, S.C., last fall included a visit to the Pete Dye Room in the Harbour Town clubhouse. It offered a photo tribute to his illustrious career.