A first for the Illinois PGA; Rhoades gets highest honor

For the first time in 62 years the Illinois PGA’s most prestigious award has gone to a woman.

Carol Rhoades was named the IPGA’s Professional of the Year, an award presented annually since 1955 to the section member whose “total contributions to the game best exemplify the complete PGA Professional.’’

Rhoades works at Golf Channel Academy Chicago and also teaches at Cog Hill, in Lemont. Born in Pennsylvania, her previous Chicago connections included a stop at Olympia Fields Country Club and a stint as head women’s coach at Illinois-Chicago.

A past LPGA Professional of the Year and one of Golf Digest’s Top 50 Women Instructors, Rhoades captured three previous IPGA honors – the Bill Strausbaugh Award (2002), Player Development Award (2008) and Horton Smith Award (2010).

Two representatives from both Cantigny, in Wheaton, and Exmoor, in Highland Park, were also recipients of 2017 section honors. Patrick Lynch and Greg Barasel of Cantigny received the two Player Development Awards and Exmoor’s Dave Schmaltz (Merchandise of the Year-Private Facility) and Nick Cuca (Assistant Professional of the Year) were Exmoor’s honorees.

Todd Sones, from White Deer Run in Vernon Hills, received the Horton Smith teaching award for the third time in 14 years.

Going collegiate

The University of Illinois men’s team, which reached the semifinals of the NCAA Championship last May at Rich Harvest Farms, finished fifth in the season-opening Olympia Fields-Fighting Illini Invitational last weekend and the Northwestern women’s team, which was the national runner-up at Rich Harvest to conclude the 2016-17 campaign, was second in its first tournament, the Dick McGuire Invitational in New Mexico, and fifth in its second — last week’s Mason Rudolph Championship in Nashville.

Olympia Field also provided the season debut for the Northwestern men’s team, which finished 13th. Playing without U.S. Amateur runner-up and Walker Cup star Doug Ghim of Arlington Heights, Texas finished eighth at Olympia Fields.

Northern Illinois opens its men’s season by hosting the 12-team Northern Intercollegiate at Rich Harvest Sunday and Monday. The tourney at Olympia is the only home event on the Illini schedule. The only home event for the Northwestern women is the Windy City Classic Oct. 2-3 at Northmoor, in Highland Park, and the lone home appearance for the NU men is the Oct. 8-9 Windon Memorial at Evanston Golf Club.

Here and there

One record, though unofficial, was set in the BMW Championship at Conway Farms on Sunday. Wesley Bryan played by himself in the final round in 1 hour 28 minutes, shooting a 69 in the process. The previous, unofficial, fastest round on the PGA Tour was Kevin Na’s 1 hour 59 minutes in last year’s Tour Championship.

The 2018 Chicago golf calendar will be almost as busy as this year’s but there’s one problem. The tournament organizers apparently didn’t talk to each. Exmoor will host the Constellation Senior Players Championship, a major event on the PGA Champions circuit, from July 12-15. The first-ever U.S. Women’s Senior Open will also be played on those same dates at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton and the John Deere Classic, Illinois’ only annual PGA Tour event, is also scheduled at the same time at TPC Deere Run in downstate Silvis.

Chicago’s Mike Keiser has named the second course at his Sand Valley facility in Wisconsin. The David Kidd design will be called Mammoth Dunes. Keiser also said a unique par-3 course, designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, has been completed and will be available for play by next June 1.

Tom Kearfott, of El Paso, won the 31st Illinois Senior Amateur, dethroning two-time winner Tom Miler, of Kewanee, at Seneca’s Oak Ridge. Miler finished second, three shots back. Kearfott will also go into the final event in the Chicago District Golf Association season as the defending champion. He’ll partner with Tim Sheppard in the CDGA Senior Amateur Four-Ball at Itasca Country Club Oct. 2-5.

The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame’s next induction ceremony will be Oct. 27 at The Glen Club, in Glenview. Gary Groh, Gary Hallberg and Horton Smith, the first Masters champion, will be the honorees.

Billy Casper Golf has been selected to manage the Aberdeen course in Valparaiso, Ind..