Illinois PGA adds team golf to its tournament schedule


The Illinois PGA informally opened its tournament season this week, but it won’t be long until the section’s newest feature in the schedule kicks in. Team play will make its debut on May 13 at the first stroke play event at Schaumburg Golf Club.

This is real team play, not best ball or foursome competitions.  With nine six-player teams and a seven-tournament schedule, it more closely resembles what the LIV Golf League started doing three years ago at its tournaments.

The 10-man IPGA tournament committee invited interest from section members, then named captains based largely on last year’s Bernardi Point Standings. Those who signed up were placed in pods based on past performance and the captains drew  from each one to create nine teams of six players each.

Each player who signed up contributed to the season’s prize fund, and a few details will be finalized when they gather at Schaumburg.

“It should be pretty cool,’’ said tournament committee chairman Andy Mickelson, of Mistwood in Romeoville, “and it should be pretty lucrative for the top three teams.’’

The competitive format will be two gross best ball and the season-long competition will be held at the six stroke play events – at Schaumburg, Merit Club in Libertyville, Glen Flora in Waukegan, Oak Park in River Grove, Crystal Lake Country Club and Mt. Hawley in Peoria –and conclude at the IPGA Players Championship Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at Glen View Club.

Team captains are Roy Biancalana and Brian Carroll, both from The Hawk in St. Charles: Jim Billiter, Ivanhoe; Kyle Donovan, Oak Park; Kevin Flack, Mauh-Nah-Tee-See in Rockford; Chris French, Aldeen in Rockford; Jeff Kellen, North Shore in Glenview; Matthew Rion from Briarwood in Deerfield; and Mickelson.

The IPGA’s schedule also has two new events – the Pro-Junior at Mount Prospect on June 19 and the Pro-Veterans at Cantigny, in Wheaton, on Oct. 10. The Illinois Open, the section’s premier championship, will return to Flossmoor Country Club on Aug. 5-7.

HERE AND THERE: The University of Illinois men’s goes after its ninth straight Big Ten championship when the conference teams gather for a three-day competition at Scioto, in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday. The Illini won their last regular season tournament, the Fighting Illini Spring Collegiate at Atkins Golf Club in Urbana last week.  Sophomore Ryan Voris was the individual winner.

The Chicago area’s two local qualifiers for the U.S. Open are today (APRIL 24) at Stonewall Orchard, in Grayslake, and Monday (APRIL 29) at Cantigny. There’ll be 73 players competing for four spots in the final qualifying stage at Stonewall and 84 battling for five spots at Cantigny.

The U.S. Golf Assn. has announced 10,052 players have entered this year’s U.S. Open that concludes June 13-16 at Pinehurst, N.C. It’s the third largest turnout in the tourney’s 124-year history.

Recently announced professional changes have Jeff Kellen moving from Butler National to North Shore and Andrew Svoboda taking over at Butler.

Gene Hiser, who played for both the Cubs and White Sox, has announced the dates for two golf charity events that he’s running.  The Bill “Soup’’ Campbell Memorial Open is June 21 at Bridges at Poplar Creek, in Hoffman Estates, and the 53rd Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities All-Star Invitational is July 18 at Twin Orchard, in Long Grove.

Tickets are on sale for the John Deere Classic, Illinois’ only annual PGA Tour event.  Two post-round concerts are also scheduled – Counting Crows on Saturday, July 6, and Lainey Wilson on Sunday, July 7.

Mistwood will host the College Learning Experience’s Dill Midwest Exposure Camp on June 18-19.  It’ll bring together 28 girls and boys who want to connect with 10 college coaches, five heading girls teams and five guiding boys teams.