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Len Ziehm On Golf

For 36 years the Chicago Golf Show has provided a flashy start to the local season

The weather outside might not suggest it, but the Chicago golf season officially starts on Friday. That’s when the 36th annual Chicago Golf Show tees off at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

The three-day show, presented by Indiana’s French Lick Resort, offers more than 350 exhibitor booths; a 3,000-square foot driving range; guest appearances by former Bears Robbie Gould, Patrick Mannelly and Emery Moorehead; a trick shot exhibition by Peter Longo and the every-popular Chicago’s Longest Putt contest — an 85-foot challenge that offers two premium tickets (a $1,590 value) to this year’s BMW Championship at Medinah.

All paid attendees among the expected 17,000 visitors to the show will receive a free round of golf from one of the courses operated by Mundelein-based GolfVisions. Travel destinations, equipment manufacturers, tournament organizers and Chicago golf groups will all be represented at the show. The champion’s trophy for the June 27-30 U.S. Senior Open will also be on display, courtesy of the tourney host Warren Course at Notre Dame.

Show hours are noon-7 p.m. on Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $6 on Friday and $11 on Saturday and Sunday. Youth 12-15 can get in for $4 and those 11 and under will be admitted free with a paid adult.

FROM THE TOURS

Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman and Arlington Heights’ Doug Ghim have already made splashes on the PGA Tour this season.

Finishing with a 65, Streelman tied for seventh at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am and earned most of his $347,445 in season money at that one tournament.

Ghim, a member of the Web.com Tour, has been given two sponsor’s exemptions to PGA Tour events so far in 2019 and he cashed in at the Farmers Insurance Open where he tied for 20th and earned $79,804. Ghim also has a tie for third at Bogota, Colombia among his three Web.com starts.

Deerfield’s Vince India, the area’s other Web.com member and the reigning Illinois Open champion, survived the 36-hole cut in four of his five Web.com starts with his best finish a tie for 17 in the last one at the LECOM Suncoast Classic in Florida.

Winnetka’s Elizabeth Szokol, who earned a place on the Ladies PGA Tour, made her debut with two tournaments in Australia this month. She claimed her first paycheck in last week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, picking up $3,360 for a tie for 58th place.

Highwood’s Patrick Flavin and Wheaton’s Tee-K Kelly finished one-two in the Brazil qualifying tournament for the PGA’s Latinoamerica Tour. They begin the circuit’s regular season next month in Panama.

ILLINOIS PGA’S BEST

Chris Gumbach, head man at River Forest Country Club in Elmhurst, has been named Professional of the Year – the top award presented annually by the Illinois Section of the PGA of America — for work done in 2018.

Onwentsia Club, in Lake Forest, was honored twice. Head pro Nick Papadakes won the Horton Smith Award for his development of educational opportunities within the section and Claire Castetter was the Assistant Professional of the Year. The awards will be presented on March 11 at a private ceremony in Woodridge.

HERE AND THERE

The Western Golf Association has issued a call for volunteers for the Aug. 13-18 BMW Championship at Medinah. More than 2,000 will be needed to conduct the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoff event and the WGA hopes to have all the positions filled by June 15. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old and be committed to work at least three shifts, each of which is between four and six hours in duration.

The three-course rotation for the Illinois PGA Championship will end in 2019. Olympia Fields’ South Course, Stonewall Orchard in Grayslae and Medinah’s No. 1 layout had taken turns hosting the tournament. This year Ruth Lake, in Hinsdale, will be the site of the championship.

Ridgemoor, in Chicago, has been named the alternate site for the finals of the 70th Illinois Open in August. The Glen Club, in Glenview, returns as the main site for the 54-hole final and the last round will again be played there.

Austin Kopp has departed as head professional at The Preserve at Oak Meadows in Addison for a job in Iowa. He’ll be replaced by Jamie Nieto, who has spent the last six years as the head professional at Pheasant Run in St. Charles.