UPPER DECK or LOWER DECK your choice. But the experience is now the same on either level at the Mistwood Golf Dome on Rt. 53 in Bolingbrook. Try out the upgraded putting and chipping greens. Book a hitting bay at MistwoodDome.com (630)-739-7600 ______________________________________________________________________
THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation for Golfers on Golf. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy or connect on LinkedIn or Facebook. At Nickol Knoll Park in Arlington Hts. on Payton’s Hill.
I WOKE UP TO 29 degree weather. But things are running hotter in the world of golf.
Yes even here during a holiday week.
IT STARTED YESTERDAY with an announcement from the PGA Tour, BMW and the Western Golf Association (WGA) about it’s five year sponsorship extension.
BMW is now on board through 2027 to sponsor Chicago’s PGA Tour stop. Which is more like an In and Out burger, as the championship moves in and out of town under the agreement with BMW. This year it was Baltimore Maryland, and next year it’s Delaware.
BUT PART OF THE NEW ANNOUNCEMENT was that in 2023, the BMW drives back into Chicago, and the Olympia Fields Country Club. Because Olympia Fields deserves a mulligan, since they hosted a BMW that almost nobody saw due to crazy Covid rules that were still in place.
It was one of the great finishes the championship has ever had. Because Jon Rahm holed a 66 foot birdie putt to defeat Dustin Johnson in a playoff. It was another great chapter in Olympia Fields longtime golf history. I wish more people and some fans had been let in. Even a 1,000 a day would have been nice.
This year had another incredible finish, with Patrick Cantlay edging out Bryson DeChambeau on the sixth playoff hole at Caves Valley Golf Club, in Owings Mill Maryland. So there hasn’t been a lack of fantastic finishes surrounding this championship.
BUT THERE WAS SOME QUESTION about the timing of this announcement. But maybe it is just time for the PGA Tour to start showing it’s hand. In response to the other challenges from the Greg Norman-Saudi series within the Asian Tour and another start-up tour. Golfweek magazine reports a series of money upgrades from the PGA Tour. These are based on tournament winnings, tournament participation and off course activity. Stay tuned.
THE FOLKS at the WGA will tell you what a great partner BMW has been. In many ways they are correct. There is one drawback-it’s the championship moving in and out of Chicago every other year. But after taking a first hand look at Caves Valley, how they executed their year of hosting the championship, and the financial support they invested in the WGA-ESF. It’s easy to see why the BMW ended up in Maryland this year.
IN FACT SOME OF THE one and done markets have really stepped up to support the Evans Scholars Foundation. In ways that aren’t always seen in the Chicago market. Because back when BMW was first getting involved, there was some 800 caddies a year headed off to college. The goal was to hit 1,000. Well now that mission has been accomplished as the number now sits at 1,070. That increase likely doesn’t happen, without the support of BMW, and great clubs in places like Denver, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Baltimore stepping up to the tee and crushing it down the middle.
SO WHAT HAPPENS AFTER 2023 AT OLYMPIA FIELDS. My guess is 2024 is out of town, at yet another Top 100 rated course, in a market where BMW wants to grow it’s share of the car market. 2025 could be a return to Conway Farms, where renovation work has been underway this fall. 2026 is out of town, especially with the Presidents Cup in town that September at Medinah Country Club. 2027 back in Chicago, with options like Butterfield and Kemper Lakes in the mix. Sleepers could be Stonebridge Country Club that would love a BMW, and Butler National if their membership policies ever change. It wouldn’t be surprising if a few courses in Wisconsin get into the mix of landing the BMW in 2024 or 2026.
LEN ZIEHM & I discuss this more on our weekly podcast that runs tomorrow. So do stay clicked in.
Architect Mike Benkusky is pondering how to improve the par-3 course at Nickol Knoll Park on Payton’s Hill in Arlington Hts.
MIKE BENKUSKY the Lake in Hills based golf architect is wrapping up one project in Sarasota Florida at the Palm Aire Country Club. But he appears to be ready to head back to work in Arlington Heights. Benkusky did an outstanding job with the Arlington Heights Park District on it’s recent renovation of Arlington Lakes G.C..
THIS TIME the project would be the other golf course in the Arlington Hts. Park Districts portfolio. The famed par-3 course on top of Nickol Knoll Park on the north-end of town. The park known as Payton’s Hill, since the former late great Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, would train on the hill when he lived in Arlington Heights.
With the Bears eyeing a move to Arlington Heights, at the Arlington Park race track part of town. NOW would be a great time to get Nickol Knoll back on track, and with a stronger connection to Payton, and his history with the hill.
Last week Benkusky was kind enough to let me tag along with him, and we walked the entire property together. I put-in more than my 2-cents worth of idea’s, of what Benkusky could do as he readies a master plan to the AHPD. Among the idea’s I suggested was a drink called “Sweetness” only sold at Nickol Knoll. What’s in it, is still TBD. There is still plenty of discussion to be had, before any renovation work will get underway. But I’m hopeful that by fall of 2022, it could.
This past week, Benkusky announced he’s been retained for renovation work by long time Western Amateur host site, Point O’ Woods Golf & Country Club in Benton Harbor Michigan. I already suggested to Benkusky to take out more trees at “The Point”.
IT’S HAPPENING AT THE PINE-Pine Meadow in Mundelein is open.
GREAT NEWS Pine Meadow is still open for outdoor golf. At least for maybe another a week or two, GM Dennis Johnsen tells me. But once the course closes it will stay closed.
The paving of the parking lot at the Pine Meadow.
My recent visit to Pine Meadow found the parking lot and area around the clubhouse getting repaved. But even better was the building of a new patio for outdoor dining. Just in time for the holidays LOL. More likely in time for the 2022 golf season. The holiday sale is underway at Pine Meadow.
Golf shoes, bags, apparel, clubs, gift cards and more. So call Pine Meadow at (847)-566-4653 (GOLF) or look online at Pinemeadowgc.com.
MORE PHOTO’S of Nickol Knoll and Pine Meadow will appear on Facebook, and Twitter @GogBlogGuy or Rory Spears-pages. RS.