Cog Hill is off the PGA Tour calendar for only the second time since 1991 this year, but that won’t keep owner Frank Jemsek from tweaking his Dubsdread layout that hosted both the Western Open and BMW Championship.
Jemsek opened the premier course on his 72-hole Lemont complex last week with some minor changes. The fifth hole, which played as a par-4 for the PGA Tour stars, is now being played as a 507-yard par-5 from the back tees and the long, tight ninth hole has been shortened from the 613 yards it played for the pros to a maximum of 586. Both changes were made to answer complaints from PGA staffers, who felt No. 5 was too long for a par-4 and No. 9 was too long regardless of its par.
More significant changes will come down the road, with controversial architect Rees Jones still in charge. His $5.2 million renovation of the course in 2008 was widely criticized by PGA Tour players, a big reason the Western Golf Assn. moved the BMW Championship to Conway Farms in Lake Forest when it returns to Chicago in 2013.
“One reason we chose Rees was because he could enhance what the original architects (Joe Lee and Dick Wilson) did,’’ said Jemsek. “It’s a huge advantage having the same guy coming in so you get the same feeling.’’
Jemsek anticipates Jones eventually altering the No. 1 hole with the removal of some bunkers on the right side of the fairway and building a new tee box that will shorten the par-5 15th. He also wants Jones to re-design the seldom-used alternate hole for the par-3 second. Jones will devise a plan for those upgrades later this year, and Jemsek said the work would be done “down the line…..We’d like to have a little money in the bank first.’’
He downplayed the pros’ complaints of the last two years.
“Some things that they dislike now will go away over time,’’ said Jemsek. “It’s a great golf course, certainly a wonderful course.’’
Ryder Cup fever, Scottish-style
The next Ryder Cup will be contested at Medinah in September, but that didn’t keep the event’s host country in 2014 from coming to Chicago for promotional purposes last week. Fiona Hyslop, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, was on hand to launch a design competition for one of the giant golf balls which will adorn Chicago’s streets in advance of the Medinah event.
Excitement for 2014, though, is already in full force in Scotland.
“Our objective is to host the best-ever Ryder Cup, and reinforce Scotland’s position as being the Home of Golf,’’ said Hyslop . “The Ryder Cup is regarded as the third biggest event on the sports calendar, behind only the football (soccer) World Cup and the Olympics. Scotland is the perfect stage for world-class events.’’
No question Scotland is big on golf. Last year the country hosted the Johnnie Walker Championship, Dunhill Links, Walker Cup matches, Women’s British Open, Barclay’s Scottish Open and Ladies Scottish Open.
Hyslop reported an unprecedented level of investment in commercial golf facilities in recent years ($400 million), and three more big resorts are in the works — Blairs Estate in Aberdeenshire ($180 million), DeVere West in Linton ($80 million) and Whitekirk in East Lothian ($25 million).
Here and there
Doug Ghim of Arlington Heights, who qualified for the Illinois Open as a 15-year old last summer, finished second to Texan Branson Davis in the Goodman Networks Junior Championship last week in Bryan, Tex. Connor Black, the 2011 Western Golf Assn. Junior champion at Beverly in Chicago, was third…..Indian Lakes, in Bloomingdale, has scheduled two Demo Days. Callaway and Nike will show their products from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on April 29 and TaylorMade and Adams will do the same from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on May 6…..The Illinois PGA will conduct its Country Club of Decatur Classic on Monday (APRIL 23) and the Chicago District Golf Assn. opens its tournament season the following day with its Better Ball of Pairs competition at The Glen Club in Glenview….Medinah will host Illinois Patriot Golf Day on May 29, benefitting Illinois military families in need. The third annual event will be played primarily on the club’s No. 1 course, but No. 3 (the Ryder Cup venue) will also be used on a limited basis…. A celebrity charity event has been added to the Chicago calendar. The Chicago Legends Golf Classic is scheduled for Aug. 10 at Oak Brook Hills Marriott to raise funds for the Dr. Jeff Foundation, which helps parents with critically ill children.