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Len Ziehm On Golf

Martin’s Fox Run, Arrowhead renovations are unveiled

April storms created a nightmare for Chicago’s golf course operators, but they were especially troublesome at Fox Run, the Elk Grove Park District facility.

Fox Run has undergone a $2 million renovation for two years under the supervision of Aurora architect Greg Martin. He started on the front nine in 2011 and completed the back late last fall. Unfortunately storms cancelled the grand opening outing.

All 18 holes are open now, though, with Martin improving the irrigation and creating new practice and chipping areas. He also replaced cart paths, re-designed some bunkers and altered some of the holes to create more challenging options.

Fox Run isn’t the only new Martin project opened in the past few days. The West Nine at the 27-hole Arrowhead facility in Wheaton has also re-opened, completing a project that had Martin renovating the East Nine in 2010 and the South in 2011.

Chicago’s busiest architect also completed bunker work at Prairie Bluff, in Romeoville, late last fall and will tackle two local courses this year – Wilmette and Settler’s Hill, in Batavia. Work on his biggest project, though, isn’t expected to begin until the fall of 2014. That’s when Oak Meadows, the historic Addison facility operated by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, becomes his main focus.

Even the courses most severely his by flooding have re-opened, and Mistwood has an added attraction for its players. The Romeoville site of the Illinois Women’s Open now has its new state-of-the-art Performance Center in operation.

Alive in the U.S. Open

Northwestern golfers Jack Perry and Matthew Negri were among the five survivors of Monday’s U.S. Open local qualifying round for the U.S. Open at Northmoor in Highland Park.

Both made birdie on the last hole of the 90-player elimination. For Perry that assured him a spot in sectional qualifying. For Negri it meant he was in a two-man playoff for the fifth and last spot. Negri survived the first extra hole despite a water ball. He drained a 12-foot par-saver to stay alive and then won the spot with a birdie on the second.

Lake Forest’s Brad Hopfinger was medalist with a 4-under-par 66 and the other survivors were club pros Rich Dukelow of Cantigny and Travis Johns of Twin Lakes.

Chicago has another 90-player local elimination on Monday at Seven Bridges in Woodridge. It’s one of 111 contested between May 3-16 nation-wide. There’ll be 11 sectionals across the country on June 3 to determine the final qualifiers for the U.S. Open proper at Merion, near Philadelphia.

Going collegiate

NCAA tournament play begins on Thursday, with Northwestern’s co-Big Ten champion women’s team the No. 10 seed in the East Regional at Auburn, Ala. NU dominated the Big Ten individual honors after claiming its first league title. Coach Emily Fletcher was coach-of-the-year and Kaitlin Park was the circuit’s top freshman. Park and Hanna Lee were both all-Big Ten first-team selections.

Illinois’ men were also dominant after ruling the Big Ten for the fifth straight year. Mike Small of coach-of-the-year, Thomas Pieters player-of-the-year and Thomas Detry the top freshman. Northwestern was the only school with more than one first-team all-star. Perry and Nick Losole were so honored.

Michael Fitzgerald, the player-of-the-year in the Chicagoland College Conference for Holy Cross, also qualified for the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Championship in Salem, Ore.

Did you know?

The Illinois PGA holds its first of four major championships starting on Monday. The 62nd IPGA Match Play title have a four-day run at Kemper Lakes in Long Grove. Curtis Malm, St. Charles assistant, is the defending champion. He beat Dukelow 2-up in the final and used that victory as a springboard to earning IPGA player-of-the-year honors.