Tourney sites are intriguing for CDGA, WGA

The Chicago District Golf Assn. and Western Golf Assn. have made major announcements in their tournament sites just a few days apart.
In announcing its tournament slate for 2012 the CDGA revealed that Cantigny, the 27-hole public layout in Wheaton, will host the concluding four-day match play portion of the CDGA Amateur. That’s significant because the finals haven’t been held on a public course since 1991. Last year the prestigious tourney wrapped up at Medinah, with the final on that club’s No. 3 course that will host the 2012 Ryder Cup matches.
Kokopelli, in Marion, will host the CDGA’s biggest tourney of the season — the 82nd Illinois State Amateur. That site marks a milestone as well, since Kokopelli will be the southern-most course to ever host the tourney. It’s about 25 miles further south than Rend Lake, in Whittington — the site of the 1998 championship.
“This is only the second time ever that the Illinois State Amateur has ventured to the southern portion of the state, and we couldn’t have found a better course,’’ said Nick Scillia, the CDGA manager of competitions and rules.
Rend Lake was the host venue when current PGA Tour player D.A. Points won the second of his three Illinois Am titles.
The WGA made a schedule switch for the 2013 season, dropping Olympia Fields as the site of the Western Amateur and moving the event to The Alotian Club in Arkansas.
After ending a 28-year run at Point O’Woods in Benton Harbor, MIch., the WGA had planned to base the tourney in the Chicago area and the first three tourneys in that run — Conway Farms in 2009, Skokie in 2010 and North Shore in 2011 — were successful. The year’s Western Am will be at Exmoor, a tradition-rich private club in Highland Park.
The Chicago run, though, will end with the move to The Alotian Club, a Tom Fazio design that is owned by Augusta National member Warren Stephens. Alotian Club has been well-received since its opening in 2004 and its two Evans Scholars, Joe and Kevin Evans, are Northwestern students.
The Chicago run is scheduled to resume in 2014 at Beverly and is targeted for Rich Harvest Farms in 2015 and Knollwood in 2016.
Olympia Fields has been Chicago’s busiest tournament site in recent years, the highlight coming when it hosted the 2003 U.S. Open. Olympia also hosted the U.S. Girls Junior in 2011 and is gearing up for the U.S. Amateur in 2015, which will highlight the club’s centennial celebration.
Vince Pellegrino, tournament director for the WGA, said the decision to end the Chicago run came after the invitation from The Alotian Club.
“We discussed a possible change with Olympia Fields officials, and we then made a joint decision to move the championship,’’ said Pellegrino. “We appreciate the club’s flexibility in agreeing to the move, which will allow us to broaden our reach and mission to other markets, particularly to a venue that also has been very supportive of our Evans Scholars program.’’
With the WGA still without a site for its biggest event, the BMW Championship, in 2013, there was speculation that Olympia Fields might host that event, but that isn’t expected to happen now. The WGA is focusing on courses in the northern suburbs for that event, though a return to Cog Hill in Lemont is still a possibility.