This is somewhat of a tradeoff. The Chicago area golf community will regain one popular name from the past but will lose another once the snow melts.
The returnee is Roy Biancalana. He’s decided to return to the Chicago area and make a run at one of the few state titles he didn’t win in his heyday. Biancalana won the Illinois PGA Junior Championship in 1977, the Illinois State Amateur in 1983 and the Illinois Open in both 1987 and 2001. He was also the Illinois PGA Player of the Year four times between 2003 and 2007.
Then family issues coupled with frustrations over three seasons on the PGA Tour led Biancalana to leave golf. He got involved first in church work and – over the last 10 years – has been a relationship coach in Florida.
“I work with single people who don’t want to be,’’ said Biancalana. “I’ve had two passions – one in the psychological world and one in the golf world.’’
Now he will combine the two. He will return as a teacher at St. Andrews, in West Chicago, where he worked from 2001-07 and also – at age 58 – plans to return as a competitive player.
“Supposedly my skill level should be dropping off dramatically, but we’ll see about that,’’ said Biancalana. “I don’t feel that way at all, and I’m looking forward to battling it out with the young guys and mixing it up with Mike Small.’’
Small, the University of Illinois men’s coach, has dominated the Illinois PGA tournaments for nearly two decades and Biancalana’s biggest goal is to win the Illinois Senior Open. They could battle it out for that title.
“I want to win (Illinois titles) at every phase. I want my own personal grand slam,’’ said Biancalana, who has played in only one major tournament – the U.S. Senior Open qualifying — in the last 10 years and also underwent heart, shoulder and wrist surgery during that period.
“I’m totally excited about teaching again at St. Andrews and getting in my competitive chops, too,’’ said Biancalana. “I’ve really missed playing, and there’s nothing like competing.’’
Medinah loses Tyrrell
Curtis Tyrrell, the superintendent who got Medinah’s No. 3 course ready for the 2012 Ryder Cup matches, is heading to Florida. He’ll become director of golf course operations at Bonita Bay Club near Naples.
In his 10 years at Medinah Tyrrell led major renovations at all three of the club’s 18-holers as well as the practice range. At Bonita Bay he’ll oversee five courses, three of which are targeted for renovations.
Tyrrell departs Medinah 18 months before the club is scheduled to host the 2019 BMW Championship.
Conway back on tournament calendar
Conway Farms competed its three-year run as host for the BMW Championship last September but the Lake Forest private club won’t be out of the tournament scene for long. Conway is among the confirmed sites for next year’s qualifying sessions for the first-ever U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
The first U.S. Golf Association national championship for women in the 50-and-over age group will be played at Chicago Golf Club, in Wheaton, from July 12-15. Conway’s elimination is June 18. Conway will join some select courses from around the country in hosting qualifiers. Other sites include Pine Needles, in North Carolina; Olympic Club, in California; Scioto, in Ohio; and LPGA International, in Florida.
Here and there
Glenview’s Frank Morley has been named to a two-year term as chairman of the Western Golf Association. A member at Conway Farms and North Shore in the Chicago area and other clubs in Florida, Montana and Ireland, Morley will lead the WGA’s Evans Scholars Foundation after moving up from a vice chairman’s role.
Cantigny, in Wheaton, has been named the winner of the Youth Development Award by the National Golf Course Owners Association.
VIP registration is now open for the May 30 Illinois Patriot Day event at Medinah.