Conway Farms, the home course of world No. 1 Luke Donald, remains the consensus favorite to land the 2013 BMW Championship, but the Lake Forest layout isn’t the only private facility Western Golf Association officials have checked out for the next time PGA tournament golf returns to Chicago.
Cog Hill, the public facility in Lemont that has hosted the PGA Tour stop since 1991, remains in the running and other sites that have been given varying degrees of consideration include The Glen Club in Glenview, Merit Club in Libertyville, Chicago Highlands in Westchester and North Shore Country Club in Glenview.
And another most interesting contender surfaced last week when Butterfield Country Club officials revealed that a contingent of PGA and WGA officials had an eight-hour visit to their 27-hole layout in Oak Brook in late August.
Butterfield, always considered one of the area’s better private facilities since its opening in 1922, has never hosted a significant tournament. Now, though, its willingness to do that is changing following the most extensive renovations performed in recent years.
Hampered by drainage problems, Butterfield’s members went 22 months without use of their golf course while architect Steve Smyers supervised a project that included the creation of more than three acres of ponds, the moving of 280,000 cubic yards of earth, the removal of 500 trees and the planting of 300 new trees — all accomplished in difficult economic times.
Though reluctant to put a cost figure on the project, Butterfield grounds chairman Paul Moreschi said that “Not a blade of grass was untouched. … It had to be the most expansive renovation a private club has ever undertaken.”
Cog Hill’s 2008 renovation of the Dubsdread course that has hosted the BMW cost $5.2 million. Butterfield’s was significantly more than that. The three nines re-opened in June of 2010, and the membership was given time to adjust to a more challenging course. Not all liked it, but the new version has elevated Butterfield’s stature — a fact underscored by the PGA visit.
“Our old course was really pretty, but not as strong as Medinah, Beverly or Olympia Fields,” said Moreschi. “When you go through something this big, you want your course to stand up to those courses.”
Butterfield’s does, and the general membership appears receptive to hosting big tournaments now. Its tournament scorecard shows a course that can play a hefty 7,780 yards, though it’s played much shorter than that normally.
“To get that long there would have to be a big event,” said Moreschi. “That wasn’t high on our priority list, but I got the impression (the PGA visitors) liked it as a potential site for the BMW in the future. It’d be a compliment if we were asked.”
Smyers’ work was well-received in a similar, but much less extensive, renovation of Olympia Fields’ South course. Butterfield’s attractiveness as a tournament site is also enhanced by its central suburban location and its 27 holes, which would provide more space for tournament-related features.
First Super champion
Jerry Moody, an assistant professional at Rolling Green in Arlington Heights, captured the first Illinois Super Seniors Open at Pine Meadow in Mundelein. He shot 1-over-par 73, then defeated Joel Hirsch with a par on the first hole of a sudden death playoff.
Bill Erfurth, the former Skokie Country Club professional, shot 74 to miss the playoff by a shot. At 82 he was the oldest player in the field.
Did you know?
Alex Lederhausen, a senior from Hinsdale, became Northwestern’s first Big Ten player-of-the-week in women’s golf since 2007. She was honored for her fourth-place showing in New Mexico’s tournament . … Alan Hill, who had been first assistant superintendent at Ruth Lake in Hinsdale, is now the head superintendent at Klein Creek in Winfield. … The Chicago District Golf Association tournament season came to an end when the Central Illinois team beat its Chicago Area counterparts in the Prairie State Challenge at Midlothian and the Lost Duns team of Kevin Gratkowski and John Smollen won the Better Ball of Pairs title at Bull Valley in Woodstock last week. … Patrick Polvin of Indian Head Park won the Palmer Flight at the Golf Channel National Championship at PGA West in California. … Char McLear of McHenry, Tanya Olson of Naperville and Laura Carson of Lake Bluff are representing Illinois in the USGA Women’s State Team Championship in Savannah, Ga. The tourney, which had teams from all states except New Hampshire, started Tuesday and concludes Thursday. It’s the last tournament on the USGA calendar for 2011.