Len Ziehm On Golf

Woods notches another big win — but this one was different

A big payoff for Covid-19 Relief was cause for celebration for Champions for Charity participants (from left) Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods was a winner in his first televised golf appearance in 98 days on Sunday.

No, it wasn’t his 83rd tournament title that would have broken a tie with Sam Snead for most wins on the PGA Tour but this was a big win nonetheless. It came in an event called The Match: Champions for Charity. Phil Mickelson was the only player of Woods’ caliber in it, but the payday was $20 million.

It didn’t go to Woods, though. It went to Covit-19 Relief and the four-man event will be a springboard to the PGA Tour’s return to tournament play at the Charles Schwab Challenge. It tees off at Colonial Country Club in Texas on June 11.

Woods and Mickelson paired up with legendary quarterbacks on Woods’ home course, Medalist in Hobe Sound, FL. Woods hooked up with Peyton Manning for a 1-up victory over Mickelson with Tom Brady. The weather and pace of play were bad, but the payoff wasn’t.

A week earlier Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson beat Rickie Fowler and Matt Wolff in a battle of PGA Tour stars at Seminole Golf Club, which is 18 miles from Medalist. It marked the return of televised sports competition since the pandemic shut down such events on March 13.

The McIlroy-Johnson win produced better golf, with four PGA Tour players doing battle, and it raised $5.5 million for pandemic relief causes. Woods-Manning warmed up in a downpour and finished with darkness setting in and rain falling. The match went on for over five hours but the charity contribution was much more substantial than at Seminole. and the quarterbacks appreciated the event even though spectators were again not allowed on the premises.

“To be behind the ropes in these guys’ (Woods and Mickelson) world was a real experience, something I’ll always remember and cherish,’’ said Manning.

“This is what we do for a living. We couldn’t do what they (Manning and Brady) do,’’ said Woods.

Brady was the worst player in the foursome but he delivered the most spectacular shot, holing out from 150 yards on the eighth hole after struggling badly over the first seven. Basketball legend Charles Barkley chided Brady on the telecast moments before Brady holed his shot.

Inspired by Brady’s
Spectacular birdie, the Mickelson-Brady team rallied from 3-down after the first six holes and got to 1-down with wins at Nos. 11 and 14. Mickelson kept his team’s hopes alive with clutch putts at Nos. 15 and 16 but Woods was the key man on the finishing hole to prevent the match from going to extra holes.

Woods was last seen on TV on Feb. 16 at the Genesis Invitational in California. Bothered by back problems he finished last after going 76-77 in the weekend rounds. A month later the pandemic set in, and Woods has been playing more tennis than golf and enjoying family time since then.

Mickelson missed the cut in four of his five tournaments this year prior to the pandemic, but he has committed to play at Colonial when the PGA Tour season resumes. Woods said his back felt much better after receiving steady treatment during the pandemic-enforced stoppage of PGA play. He didn’t say when he’d return to tournament competition.

Golf was different, but McIlroy was still the star of the show in return to TV

Rory McIlroy celebrates his shot that was closest-to-the-pin on the last shot at Seminole.

It was, at the very least, a good start. Live televised sports competition returned on Sunday, and the TaylorMade Driving Relief event didn’t look much like the golf played by Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff at the last PGA Tour event on March 12.

On Sunday the players all wore shorts, carried their own bags, cleaned their own clubs and were allowed to use range-finders. Caddies weren’t allowed, and neither were spectators at Seminole Golf Club, a storied Donald Ross-designed layout in Juno Beach, FL. Only PGA Tour staffers were allowed to touch the flagsticks or rake the bunkers.

NBC staffers were largely absent as well. Telecast host Mike Tirico was at his home in Michigan and conducted long-distance interviews with President Trump, Bill Murray and Jon Rahm. Analysts Paul Azinger and Gary Koch watched the broadcast from PGA Tour headquarters in St. Augustine, FL. Only on-course reporters Steve Sands and Jerry Foltz were at Seminole.

All that was in done in an effort to adhere to social distancing guidelines and other requirements to help COVID-19 relief efforts.

After a nine-week layoff the players’ games weren’t always sharp. Johnson hadn’t been on a course between the March 12 cancellation of The Players Championship and a practice round at Seminole this week.

The four players are all on the TaylorMade staff, and they donated their services. McIlroy and Johnson played in the two-man skins competition for the American Nurses Foundation and Fowler and Wolff represented the Center for Disease Control Foundation. Those organizations were the main beneficiaries as $5.5 million was raised from the Sunday event through corporate sponsorships and outside donations made during the telecast.

There was no wild cheering, due to the absence of fans, and the players couldn’t even give high-fives – all part of the social distancing effort. Only a few TV cameramen and PGA Tour officials, many riding in carts, accompanied the players around the course. Still, the event didn’t lack drama. The McIlroy-Johnson team earned $1,850,000 and the Fowler-Wolff team $1,150,000.

No skins were earned in the final six holes, so the match went an extra hole – to a closest-to-the-pin contest on a 120-yard hole. McIlroy, the world’s No. 1 golfer, won on the last shot of the day. His shot was slightly closer than Wolff, who was the surprise of the day.

Fowler-Wolff, both former Oklahoma State golfers, weren’t accorded much of a chance against the game’s No. 1 and No.5-ranked players but Wolff, a 21-year old PGA Tour rookie with a quirky swing, earned some surprise bonus points by winning two long-drive competitions.

McIlroy and Johnson are two of the longest hitters in the game, but Wolff did better on Sunday. He was the NCAA individual champion last year and won in only his third start on the PGA Tour.

“There were probably a lot of people asking why I was in it,’’ said Wolff, “but I wanted to prove to them that I can play with the best in the world.’’

“It was an awesome day,’’ said McIlroy, whose father Jerry is a Seminole member. “It was nice to be back on a golf course and get back to some kind of normalcy.’’

Another potentially lucrative charity exhibition is on tap for next Sunday, featuring Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and legendary quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. They’ll play at Medalist Club, another South Florida facility.

That’ll set the stage for the PGA Tour’s return to tournament play on June 11, at the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial in Fort Worth, TX. That event, along with the next four tournaments on the schedule, will be played without spectators.

“The Tour is obviously taking it very seriously,’’ said Fowler. “They’re taking all the measures needed to make sure when we do Colonial that it’ll be the safest environment possible.’’

“We miss competing,’’ said Johnson. “It’s been nice to be at home and enjoy time with the family, but I’m ready to get back out there and play.’’

Seminole has long been one of America’s most famous courses, but it wasn’t on TV until Sunday.

Golf starts the return of live TV sports events — and I can’t wait

It won’t be long now. Live televised sports competition is about to return, and golf is leading the way. While tentative tournament schedules were drawn up months ago, now there’s something concrete and – as a purely personal perk – the first two big events will be conducted almost in my Florida backyard.

A four-player charity skins game put on by equipment manufacturer TaylorMade will kick things off on Sunday. It’ll have three of the game’s top stars – Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler – participating along with a promising up-and-comer, Matt Wolff.

They’ll play at Seminole Golf Club, a famous course in Juno Beach that has never been seen on television. McIlroy and Johnson will take on Fowler and Wolff, both Oklahoma State alums, in a four-hour telecast that will be played without spectators. It’ll raise at least $4 million for COVID-19 relief efforts.

Not only that, but the event — called TaylorMade Driving Relief – will provide the first look at what tournament golf will be like in the “new normal.’’ The players won’t have caddies. They’ll be carrying their own bags, practicing social distancing and adhering to a variety of new policies designed to make golf safe in these trying times.

Seminole, an ultra-private club, usually closes for the season on Mother’s Day but the Donald Ross design that opened in 1929 is staying open a few more days to help raise money for pandemic relief efforts.

“We have a big responsibility on ourselves to make sure that we practice all the guidelines that the PGA Tour is going to set in place,’’ said Johnson. “Obviously everyone is going to be watching what we’re doing, so it’s very important for us to do it all correctly.’’

“It’s really cool to be able to bring some live sports back,’’ said Fowler. “Everyone is taking the right measures to make sure it’s done the correct way.’’

Next week the first major tour event since the pandemic concerns kicked in will tee off. The Korean LPGA Championship will have three members of the world’s top 10 — all Korean players — among those competing for a $1.8 million purse. There won’t be any American players or TV coverage for that one, but on May 24 another televised event will put the spotlight back on South Florida.

“The Match: Champions for Charity,’’ another four-player televised event featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, will be played at Medalist Club in Hobe Sound, which is 18 miles from Seminole. This will be more of a fun thing, with legendary quarterbacks rounding out the foursome. Woods will team with Peyton Manning and Mickelson with Tom Brady.

There’s some interesting, off-course sidelight to this one, which also won’t have spectators. Mickelson is in the process of establishing a residence in South Florida and is joining Michael Jordan’s new club, Grove XXIII, which is also in Hobe Sound. Brady, who signed with a new team – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – in football’s off-season, recently became a member at Seminole.

Medalist is where Tiger Woods does most of his practicing. Before May is over Medalist will host another Woods-Phil Mickelson match, but this one will be much different than the one they staged last year because both will have partners.

Golf is already in full swing, since the last of the 50 states re-opened their courses for play this week and there have been some smaller events played. One is this week’s Outlaw Tour Scottsdale (Ariz.) Open, and Wheaton’s PGA veteran, Kevin Streelman, was in the field.

Streelman, along with other PGA Tour players, received a 37-page Health and Safety Plan from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan this week that outlined the procedures that will go into effect when tournament play resumes. The men’s PGA and Korn Ferry Tours will get into the swing of things on June 11, the PGA in Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge and the backup Korn Ferry at Ponte Vedra, FL., for a new event.

“The message from Jay was that we’ve talked to doctors, talked to professionals, talked to politicians. These are the steps we need to take to be safe,’’ Streelman told reporters at the Scottsdale Open. “Now are you guys comfortable playing competitive golf in this arena? The answer was a resounding yes.’’

The last televised golf was played on March 12, at the first round of The Players Championship. The PGA Tour cancelled the remainder of the tournament and a series of cancellations followed. Last year the PGA Tour schedule had 49 events. This year, if all still scheduled are held, the total will be 36. The Korn Ferry had 28 events last season; this year’s it figures to be 17.

Billy Horschel is one PGA Tour player who has made the most of the difficult stretch without tournaments. He hunkered down with his wife and three children in Ponte Vedra.

“We’re just fine,’’ said Horschel. “We’re very fortunate that my wife and kids and our friends are all healthy. We’ve been getting by just like everyone else. Every day is a different day. Every day seems to be Groundhog Day with my kids. We have a lot of the same meltdowns and timeouts – all those things you have with three kids under 5, but it’s been an enjoyable time to spend with them.’’

Horschel, who has five PGA Tour victories and won the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus in 2014, also did some business during the time away from tournaments. He became in investor in beam CBD, a wellness product.

“I’m very happy because it looks like we’ll have some special golf in the future,’’ said Horschel. “I never had any doubts that we’d play again, but it was just when. With sports we provide a sense of relief that allows fans to take their minds off their own worries and struggles. It’ll be nice to see the world get back to a sense of normalcy.’’


The Myrtle Beach World Amateur is a truly international event, as shown by the flags decorating the Myrtle Beach Civic Center during last year’s event. With over 3,000 entrants expected again the World Am is scheduled for its 37th staging in August.


Rory Spears and Len Ziehm are combining efforts on golf travel destinations they’ve visited over the years. This one is on Myrtle Beach, S.C.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Golf courses here – and there’s about 100 of them – are ready for players, and they have been for quite awhile. This is what we’ve been told as April winds down.

The courses are open. Over 18 of them overseeded wall-to-wall – fairways, tees, greens and rough. The other 73 overseeded everything but the rough.

Said one long-term Myrtle Beach golf booster: “We had a real mild winter and a beautiful March – the March we’ve been waiting for. Everything is in spectacular condition.’’

Yes, hotels are still restricted to short-term rentals and can’t take reservations through April 30. Restaurants are closed, but curb-side pickup and carryouts are readily available. The hopes and expectations in Myrtle Beach are for that to change in early May – ideally very early May, or mid-May at the latest.

Restrictions now include one person per cart, but people are allowed to walk at many of the Myrtle Beach courses.

I’ve played in the Myrtle Beach World Amateur twice and am awaiting my third appearance in a few months.

Lots of travel-minded golfers consider Myrtle a home away from home. There’s so many great options available, complete with prices that can fit most budgets.

The younger member of our team tabs the Greg Norman Course at Barefoot Resort one of his three Myrtle Beach favorites, the others being Tidewater (one of the prettiest courses in the area and a clubhouse with great dining) and Grande Dunes. He also likes the oceanfront hotels, particularly the Double Tree by Hilton with its Ocean Blue Restaurant.

This, more experienced, collaborator for this new series has been a Myrtle Beach devotee for many more years, and he leans toward Caledonia Golf & Fish Club and its partner course True Blue as his favorite destination in the area. Then again, Tidewater and Grande Dunes are great. So is the Dye Course at Barefoot Resort.

Gifts, prizes and plenty of fun abounds at the World Amateur.

Of course you can’t leave out Pine Lakes, which dates back to 1927; the Dunes Club, Pawley’s Plantation and Founder’s Club. And TPC Myrtle Beach is something special, too – especially since PGA Tour star Dustin Johnson recently made a dramatic expansion of its teaching facility.

There’s a reason why Myrtle Beach can, with plenty of justification, call itself “the Golf Capitol of the World.’’

And then there’s the area’s biggest event – the 37th staging of the Myrtle Beach World Amateur Handicap Championship. It’s over 72 holes (plus a playoff) for competitors in nine divisions and features the World’s Largest 19th Hole and over $100,000 in prizes will be distributed. In short, it’s an event like no other.

This year’s version is August 31 to Sept. 4, and the usual 3,000-plus players are expected. Even with this year’s obstacles the tournament is expected to be held and entries are being accepted. I, for one, wouldn’t miss it. Neither should you.

FINALLY, A BULLETIN TOO HARD TO RESIST: Wisconsin courses are scheduled to open on Friday, April 24. Those that will include the four courses in Kohler, including Whistling Straits – site of this year’s Ryder Cup matches. Season-opening green fees there are just $195 – a very low number for a course poised to host a big event.

Cheers to Caddyshack on the movie’s 40th anniversary

If ever a movie – especially a sports-themed one – merited an anniversary celebration it’d be “Caddyshack.’’ This movie didn’t really have a plot. It was just a series of memorable scenes with actors Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield the lead characters. Still, over the years its fan base grew and the movie became a classic.

Now Caddyshack is getting an anniversary celebration – and a beer to go with it.

Production on the movie started in 1979 and it was released in 1980 – 40 years ago. To commemorate the 40th anniversary the Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, Md., introduced a beer called Night Putting.

Flying Dog is billing itself as “America’s most disobedient brewery,’’ and that’s in keeping with the raucous nature of the film. The beer, a reinvented pale ale, is being sold in 16-ounce cans and is available in four-packs.

“When conceptualizing this beer we knew we wanted to pay homage to the classic comedy, so we created a beer designed specifically for golfers,’’ said James Maravetz, Flying Dog’s marketing director.

You have to be a Caddyshack devotee to appreciate all the humor, but the colorful beer can matches the shirt that the Judge Elihu Smails character (played by Ted Knight) wore when he met Al Czervik (the character played by Dangerfield). Their meeting started all the fun.

The Night Putting reference was coined by Chase’s Ty Webb character, and Murray played the nutty golf course superintendent Carl Spackler. The “plot’’ for Caddyshack was created by co-writers Brian Doyle-Murray (Bill’s brother) and Harold Ramis. The general story was based on the Murray brothers’ caddie days at Indian Hill Club in Winnetka during their teen-age years.

A book has already been written about the wild life involving the cast and crew that was going on behind the scenes as the movie was being made. A sequel to Caddyshack was also made, but it wasn’t nearly as well received as the original version.

The original was made primarily at an upscale public course called Rolling Hills, in Davie, FL., near Ft. Lauderdale. A lot has changed there over the last 40 years. Wayne Huizenga, who at one time owned football’s Miami Dolphins, baseball’s Miami Marlins and hockey’s Florida Panthers, bought the golf club in 1999 and converted it into a private venue called Grande Oaks. The course was re-designed by PGA Hall of Famer Ray Floyd shortly after Huizenga bought it.

A change in plans: Illinois golf courses are closed again

The opening of Chicago area golf courses was short-lived.

Many, under the impression that Gov. J.B. Pritzker had given his approval, opened on Wednesday in an announcement made by a group named the Allied Golf Association. Its members encompassed the Illinois Section of the Professional Golfers Association, the Chicago District Golf Association and Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents and the Greater Chicago Chapter of the Club Management Association of America.

That announcement was made after Governor’s Executive Order 2020-10 was issued to Illinois golf facilities on Tuesday night.

“That interpretation was correct and actionable at the time it was communicated. However, that interpretation has been overturned, ‘’ the Allied Golf Association announced Thursday. No further explanation was available.

According to Thursday’s announcement maintenance will be permitted on the courses, and clubs can provided carry-out food service – but no golf.

The Illinois Municipal League and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity gave this explanation in a joint statement:

“No recreational sports businesses, including golf courses, are considered essential businesses under the executive order.’’

Golf’s ruling bodies across the country have been in disagreement as to whether players should be allowed on the course during the coronavirus pandemic. According to a survey conducted by the Golf Course Superintendents of America and published in GolfWorld magazine only six states – Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennylvania and Wisconsin – had banned golf prior to Thursday’s Illinois announcement. California and New York were listed as pending.


Illinois golf courses are allowed to open — but with restrictions

To play golf, or not to play golf — that’s been a hot topic around lots of states during this coronavirus pandemic. In Illinois – especially since the recent snowfall has melted and temperatures have climbed over 60 degrees — it’s created confusion that was somewhat cleared up with a statement by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that was made available to some media members on Wednesday.

Yes, courses are allowed to remain open, according to the amended statement issued on Tuesday night. Prior to that a Governor’s Executive Order ruled that the courses should be closed until April 7. Not all courses abided by that ruling, however, and many across the state accepted players. Private clubs and public venues in Central Illinois were particularly defiant of the original Governor’s Executive Order.

As of Wednesday courses could legally open, subject to the following conditions:

The clubhouse must remain closed and only online or telephone scheduling and payment of tee times is allowed.

Food and beverage service, including food or beverage cart service, cannot be provided. The use of carts by golfers won’t be allowed, either. Rounds will be walking-only.

Driving ranges will be closed due to concerns about social distancing and use of shared equipment. Golfers and course staff must also observe social distancing guidelines.

Those regulations were passed on to Illinois golf industry leaders on Tuesday night via a Coronavirus Update put out by the Allied Golf Association. That group encompasses the Illinois Section of the Professional Golfers Association of America, the Chicago District Golf Association, the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents and the Greater Chicago Chapter of the Club Management Association of America.

Until that statement was issued all the states bordering Illinois were allowing courses to open. In a strange twist on Wednesday, once the Illinois courses were allowed to open course operators in Wisconsin were informed that the state’s governor, Tony Evers, had ordered all the courses in that state to close.

With temperatures hitting 60 degrees, Wisconsin’s golf professionals weren’t happy about that. One reported he had “a full tee sheet from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m…..What am I going to do? Call them all and tell them not to come?’’

Some Chicago area courses haven’t opened at all yet, and the status of each course is different. Players are advised to call ahead to make sure a course is open or a tee time is available.

“Everybody has a different operation,’’ said Bob Malpede, general manager at White Deer Run in Vernon Hills. “Because we’re also a restaurant we do have curbside (food service).’’

Nearby Pine Meadow, in Mundelein, began an aerification project on its greens after the initial Governor’s Executive Order, which didn’t allow the courses to be open. Now that play is allowed, Pine Meadows’ greens will be closed and pins with be placed in the fairways. Green fees will be dropped to $15 until the greens are put back in play again. In addition to the driving range being closed the only restrooms available will be in the clubhouse, with one person using them at a time.

Players should also anticipate courses in need of more maintenance work. The only maintenance in progress is considered “Minimum Basic Operations.’’

Many of the courses will use versions of elevated cups in their hole placements to keep players from putting their hands into the holes.

The biggest public facility in the Chicago area, 72-hole Cog Hill in Lemont, will have its Nos. 1 and 3 courses open. Mistwood, home of the Illinois Women’s Open in Romeoville, is considering opening later in the week as are Naperville courses Naperbrook and Springbrook. Village Greens, of Woodridge, could open as early as this weekend.

The change in the Governor’s Executive Order was a surprise, and other courses are debating when to allow play. Poplar Creek, in Hoffman Estates, plans to open on Sunday (MARCH 29) and it’ll be a day later for Prairie Landing, in West Chicago.

Cantigny, in Wheaton, won’t open until April 6. So will another Wheaton facility, Arrowhead. Schaumburg Golf Club expects to open on or shortly after April 6.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TPC Deere Run is ready to host the JDC for the 20th time

The John Deere Classic has been played in the Quad Cities of Rock Island and Moline in Illinois and Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa for 48 years, but this year’s staging represents a significant milestone.

It’ll be the 20th year the tournament has been played at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, which is on the outskirts of Moline, and Moline is where the John Deere Company national headquarters is located. Ever since John Deere took over sponsorship in 1999 and the tourney moved to Deere Run this tournament — in one of the smallest markets on the PGA Tour — has been big-time, to put it mildly.

Through its Birdies for Charity program the JDC raised $13.4 million for 500-plus area charities last year. The tournament has established itself as the No. 1 tournament on the tour in per capital giving and No. 3 in total charitable giving, and each year it provides an estimated $54 million economic impact in the Quad Cities area.

Since Deane Beman, the former PGA Tour commissioner, won the inaugural playing of the tournament in 1971 the event has raised $107 for area charities.

“It’s unlike any other tournament,’’ said Michael Kim, who will defend his title from July 8-14.. “It’s such a tight-knit community. You can definitely tell how everyone in the community really backs the tournament. It’s s such a strong showing with the spectators and crowds. I wish we played every tournament out there now.’’

Over the years the JDC has been known for producing first-time PGA Tour winners – 22 of them, in fact. Last year it was Kim, and he won in style. His 27-under-par total not only produced a record eight-stroke victory margin but it also erased Steve Stricker’s 26-under par total in 2009 as the lowest in tournament history. Until Kim went crazy the most one-sided winner in tournament history was David Frost, who won by seven in 1993, before the tourney moved to TPC Deere Run.

“Obviously the best golf I’ve ever played for a week,’’ said Kim when he returned for a media day visit. He still watches his win on YouTube “just to remember that it actually happened.’’

The tournament had a long run at short, sporty Oakwood, in Coal City, before moving to Deere Run. The present home course was designed by veteran tour player D.A. Weibring, an Illinois State University alum who won the JDC three times when it was played at Oakwood.

Weibring, who had design help from Chris Gray, devised a 7,183-yard, par-71 course that has become a favorite of PGA Tour players. Some have even come to the JDC instead of heading overseas for the British Open, which is traditionally the week after the John Deere Classic. JDC director Clair Peterson has made his tournament an attractive option by chartering a jet for them from the Quad Cities Airport to the British site. Why head overseas sooner than necessary?

Last year the British site was Carnoustie, in Scotland, where Kim finished 35th behind champion Francesco Molinari. A week earlier Molinari had tied for second in the JDC but – like everyone else –couldn’t keep up with Kim.

While Kim’s win was one for the ages, it wasn’t the first in JDC history. This tournament has had lots of big moments – especially since it settled at TPC Deere Run. Stricker won his three-peat there (2009-11). Iowa native Zach Johnson, who is on the tourney’s board of directors and is its most devoted supporter among the PGA Tour players, played in his first tour event in the Quad Cities and ended Stricker’s run there.

Stricker’s first title started when he shot a 60 in the first 18 but wasn’t even leading at that day’s end because Paul Goydos had posted a 59. Jordan Spieth was among those winning for the first time at TPC Deere Run in 2013, when he was just 19 and the youngest winner on the circuit in 82 years. He triumphed again two years later — but hasn’t been back since.

And then there was Michelle Wie. Peterson gave her a sponsor’s exemption when she was 15 years old and she almost survived the 36-hole cut.

Peterson has always been welcoming to up-and-coming young stars. Lots have benefitted from his sponsor’s exemptions but this year Peterson changed his formula a bit. He invited a 45-year old with an unorthodox swing, one likened to a fisherman casting. Like Kim, Ho Sung Choi was born in South Korea and he can play. He won the Casio World Open on the Japan Tour last year.

There’s always something uplifting at the JDC. Among those this year is a boost in prize money—to $6 million. The winner will pick up $1,044,000.