About Rory Spears

Rory spent over 8 years growing up working at Rob Roy Golf Club in Prospect Hts.IL, then two years at Chevy Chase in Wheeling. He has covered golf in Chicago since 1986. Rory was one of the initial members of WSCR all-sports radio Chicago and covered golf there for 5 seasons, before moving on to work for ESPN/Sportsticker and ESPN Radio. In addition to hosting Golfers on Golf Radio on WNDZ Am 750 Chicago, he writes for both Chicagoland Golf and the Chicago District (CDGA) Magazine. Rory has played over 460 courses in 37 states, and rates golf courses. He does golf course management and communications consulting, in the golf industry.

THE GOG BLOG SPEAKS OUT-GOLF IS BACK ON TRACK

THE 1ST EVANS SCHOLARS INVITATIONAL-on the tee this week at The Glen Club.     _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS. Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy. Above the first tee at Bethpage Black.

GOLF IS BACK. So is Brooks Koepka the main driving force in golf today.

When Jim Nantz of CBS called out the golf media this past week, for not giving Koepka the credit he deserved. One wondered what it would take to get things back on track.

A 2-shot win for Koepka’s fourth major championship in 23 months is what it took. By doing so, Koepka became the first player in golf history to hold, two PGA and U.S Open titles at the same time.

Well Koepka’s finish in terrible windy conditions wasn’t solid, his start the first two days was as good as it gets. Koepka held the biggest 36 hole lead in championship history, and in the end, only Dustin Johnson mounts a charge that could have dashed Koepka’s bid to win a second Wanamaker Trophy.

Nick Faldo nailed it on the head, when he said on Saturday that Woods showed up unprepared to tackle a tough Bethpage Black Golf Course. Woods was nine back after Round 1, and 17 shots in back of Koepka after 36 holes. Because Woods was +5 he missed the cut by a shot, and golf was back on track for an exciting weekend. Analyst Brandel Chamblee picked Woods to win, and wished he hadn’t. Calling Woods both foggy and showing up unprepared to play.

While Nantz mentioned Woods 4-times in the first 30 minutes on Saturday, and should have been given a 2-shot penalty right there. He righted the ship as the third round progressed, with Faldo bringing some real doses of reality. Reality was the golf media having to shift gears and start giving Koepka a serious look. It was amazing how many of the media thought golf was in a great place with Woods win in Augusta. They thought people would flock to play golf, and start buying new golf balls and shirts. I didn’t believe that for a minute. That golf boom around the Chicago area didn’t happen. The weather has played havoc on our golf season so far this year, and Woods win couldn’t or didn’t change anything.

By Sunday however, CBS was looking for some drama, and got it as Koepka struggled getting home during his walk through the “Back 9 on Sunday”. The sad part is that the CBS crew was almost cheering as Koepka made four bogeys in four holes, and his lead over Johnson shrunk to one. They wanted drama and not a Koepka landslide victory. But once Johnson made bogey on holes 16 and 17, Koepka had all the space he needed. So CBS moved on to crowning Koepka as the new force in golf.

When it ended, golf had gotten the new superstar it was looking for. A player that will have people playing the game of golf, and wanting to see more. Galleries were huge all weekend long, even without Woods. It didn’t matter who was playing, New York fans turned out in force.

Did the PGA Championship garner the attention with it’s move to May. It’s hard to say. The NHL and NBA playoffs are still going on, and the Preakness was running. What may have been a saving grace, is the Eastern Conference Finals wrapped up early, and the Kentucky Derby winner Country House wasn’t running at Pimlico.

One thing for sure. I expect both Johnson and Koepka to be running strong at Pebble Beach, and there could be quite a rematch in the making. The U.S. Open has some serious drama heating up. A new war by the shore. Johnson has played great at Pebble Beach in the past, including win’s during the PGA Tour event there. Johnson, Koepka and maybe even “Lefty Phil” should be in the mix come Father’s Day Sunday next month.

THE MEDIA hook up with 2018 John Deere Classic Champion Michael Kim today at TPC Deere Run. I’ll have some preview later in the week. The Gog Blog is back this week, the 1st Evans Scholars Invitational tee’s off on Thursday at the Glen Club. The admission is free, come out and support golf and the caddies of the Evans Scholars.

THE RAIN NEEDS TO GO. I saw and heard there are some courses that really need to cut the grass, lets save the U.S. Open rough for Pebble Beach.

Little-by-little it’s warming into golf season. Go play. My new clubs are here. I’m ready. RS

VARNER WINS IPGA SENIOR MATCH PLAY

THE EVANS SCHOLARS INVITATIONAL tee’s off this week at the Glen Club starting on Thursday and runs through Sunday. Web.com tour player and former Illinois star Dylan Meyer with WGA-VP Vince Pellegrino. Free tickets available ESInvitational.com.   _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy. On the 6th hole at Bethpage Black. Home of this weeks PGA Championship.

THE ILLINOIS PGA started it’s Senior Major season with the Match Play Championship at Shoreacres Golf Club in North Chicago. But is was a professional at a club on the south side of Chicago, that came away as the winner.

Beverly Country Club’s John Varner, defeated Ivanhoe Country Club’s Director of Golf Jim Sobb 1Up. To win the championship and take home the trophy.

It was Varner’s first win in his Illinois PGA career. Varner birdied the par 5, 18th hole to win the match.

“It was a back-and-forth match,” said Varner. “I started off hot, but then both of us went a little sideways towards the end of the front nine. We both got aggressive on the back nine and started making some birdies. There weren’t very many holes that were tied.”

Varner had a 2 Up lead after four holes, but lost holes six and nine and the match was All-Square at the turn. But then Sobb birdied 11 and 12 to take a 1 Up lead. The match went All-Square after 14, but Sobb went 1 Up with a win on the 15th. After Varner won the 16th to even the match, and then the players halved the 17th hole setting up the exciting finish, on the 18th green.

2019 Illinois PGA Senior Match Play Champion John Varner

Varner advanced to the championship by defeating Mike Erwin from Chalet hills 6 and 5.

Because he entered the championship as the #56 seed, Varner had his work cut out for him.

It took extra holes (20) to win his Sweet 16 match, over Brett Packee from Northmoor Country Club.

But from there, Varner had to take on the #1 seed Roy Biancalana, who he defeated by a 3 & 2 score.

“I played great all week,” said Varner. “I hit the ball well the entire event. My driver was good, and I was putting great, everything just seemed to click.

For more information on the Illinois PGA, please visit IPGA.com. Golfers on Golf thanks Nick Novelli for the championship photo. And also wishes to thank, Palmer Moody for his help on the recap. GOG wishes Moody the best on his transition to IPGA Foundation duties. GOG also welcomes Chicago area native Kevin Quinn to the position of IPGA Communications Manager.

GOLFERS ON GOLF RADIO WEEK 8-CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK

THE EVANS SCHOLARS INVITATIONAL This coming week at the Glen Club, May 23-26. Free admission and parking. ESInvitational.com for details. Today and tomorrow on Fox Sports1, the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles. Laura Davies 1 back.      _____________________________________________________________________

LAURA DAVIES is trying to defend the the U.S. Sr. Women’s Open title she won last year at the Chicago Golf Club, she is 1 shot back at Pine Needles Lodge and Resort in Southern Pines North Carolina. We have that and more on Brooks Koepka destroying the field at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, and Tiger Woods with a Missed Cut.

The 18th hole at Bethpage Black, site of this weeks PGA Championship.

Golfers on Golf Radio returns this morning at 10 AM, on the BIG AM 750 WNDZ-Chicago.

Ed Stevenson, Bill Berger and Rory Spears, talk the best golf talk with a Chicago area flavor to it.

This morning our guests include, Vince Pellegrino, Sr. VP of Tournaments for the Western Golf Association (WGA) on this weeks inaugural Evans Scholars Invitational at the Glen Club.

Golf Industry consultant Bill Daniels, the founder of Golf Chicago Magazine, joins us for a look at the proposed Jackson Park Golf Course renovation. Is the project on the Road to Nowhere, with logistics, money and political issues.

We will discuss the PGA Championship, the U.S. Sr. Women’s Open and more, on what is supposed to be the best day of the year, for golf in Chicago with a temperature of 81 degrees. Golfers on Golf Radio Am 750 WNDZ this morning. Join us.

WGA ANNOUNCES SPONSORS EXEMPTIONS FOR ESI

DYLAN MEYER and WGA VP VINCE PELLEGRINO discuss the upcoming Evans Scholars Invitational next week May 23-26 at the Glen Club. Free Admission and Free Parking. See esinvitational.com/2019-tickets. This event benefits the Evans Scholars.    ______________________________________________________________________

The Gog Blog by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy and on Facebook, Linkedin or Instagram at RoryGolf18. With Dylan Meyer at the Glen Club.

THE WESTERN GOLF ASSOCIATION (WGA) has announced the sponsors exemptions, for next weeks Web.com Evans Scholars Invitational. That will be played at the Glen Club.

All four players have great records in Western Golf amateur championships.

Former University of Illinois players Dylan Meyer and Nick Hardy. Former Northwestern University standout Chris Wilson, and 2018 Western Amateur runner-up Davis Riley.

“We received many worthy requests for exemptions, and we’re looking forward to having these four talented players in our field,” said Vince Pellegrino senior vice president of tournaments. “All four enjoyed exceptional college and amateur careers, and performed incredibly well, against tough fields in our Western Amateur.”

Evans Scholars Invitational May 23-26 Free Admission courtesy of the WGA and Edward Jones Financial

Hardy advanced to the Sweet-Sixteen of the Western Amateur, three straight years including a semi-final appearance in 2014. He lost to the eventual championship Beau Hossler. In the 2014 Western Junior, Hardy finished as the runner-up.

Hardy was the 2015 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year. In 2015 he made the cut, at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

Dylan Meyer won the 2016 Western Amateur at the Knollwood Club. He was the 2017 Big Ten Player of the Year, and three-time All-American and Big Ten. He made his professional debut in the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock, where he finished T-20. Meyer made the cut, in 6 of his 10 starts in 2018. During his first year on the PGA Tour.

Wilson was the 2005 Western Amateur runner-up. He won the 2006 Big Ten Championship. His lone victory on the Web.com Tour came in 2012, at the Price Cutter Charity Championship.

Riley finished as runner-up at last years Western Amateur at Sunset Ridge, and was a semi-finalist in 2016. He has been runner-up twice at the USGA Junior Championship. His resume includes being a three-time All-American at Alabama, and three-time All SEC Golfer.

The field at the Evans Scholars Invitational will consist of 156 players. This year is the first of a four-year contract between the Western Golf Association, and the Web.com Tour. Purse for this years event, is $550,000.

More information can be found at WGAESF.org or ESInvitational.com

THE GOG BLOG SPEAKS OUT-CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK

DYLAN MEYER and Vince Pellegrino WGA discuss the upcoming Evan Scholars Invitational at the Glen Club May 23-26. #webdotcomtour DUSTIN JOHNSON hits a long drive at the Dustin Johnson Learning Center at TPC Myrtle Beach site of this weeks NCAA Regional that includes both Northwestern and Illinois Men’s golf teams.      ______________________________________________________________________

 

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, and at Linkedin or Facebook. Above the first tee at Bethpage Black home of this weeks PGA Championship.

IT’S CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK and yes there is more than one.

The PGA Championship led by defending champion Brooks Koepka head to Long Island for what should be an interesting week of golf. As the years final major is now second on the list.

The USGA has a championship this week of their own. The U.S. Sr. Women’s Open is up for it’s second run, this time not in Chicago, or Wheaton at the Chicago Golf Club. But in Southern Pines at the late Peggy Kirk Bell’s, Pine Needles Resort. Laura Davies goes for three straight majors on the senior ladies circuit.

The U.S. Senior Open on the Warren Course.

The media days continue to tee off this week. Today it’s the Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed Warren Course in South Bend. Home of the 2019 U.S. Senior Open, with defending champion David Tom’s in the house.

Wednesday it’s Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, to preview the Phil Kosin Illinois Women’s Open. Mistwood will also show off some changes to landscaping around the golf course.

On a personal note. I’m told my new clubs should be here by Tuesday. That is always a good feeling, to go through a fitting process, and then finally get the goods to put in the golf bag.

IT WAS nice to hear CBS Golf Anchor Jim Nantz, tee up the golf media for a lack of coverage on defending champion Brooks Koepka and other top players. Because most of it seems to focus on one player since the Masters. Never a good thing. Golf has been down this road before and it almost killed the industry. Hopefully golf is back on track come Sunday night.

Do I really need to know that someones yacht has been spotted. So what !!! Now if a German U-Boat appears and puts a torpedo in the side of it, then we have a story.

IT WAS A GOOD WEEKEND for golfers with Illinois ties. Doug Ghim has a great run at the Byron Nelson, wrapping up at 15 under par. Former University of Illinois Golfer Luke Guthrie had a great finish in Kansas City, on the Web.com Tour after having the 36 hole lead. (Dylan Meyer missed the cut).

STEVE STRICKER had a big 2 shot win on the PGA Champions Tour (-14)holding off some big names on tour.

The weather is supposed to finally start turning for the good this week. One can only hope. With that I’m off to South Bend, for the second time this year. Hopefully, it’s a better day than what the NHL Winter Classic turned into.

GOOD LUCK to both the Northwestern University Wildcats, and the Fighting Illini of Illinois. Both schools are competing for a chance to go to the NCAA National Championships, in Arkansas 2 weeks from now.

More thoughts on Bethpage, Pine Needles and the Warren Course as the week continues. Congratulations to Garrett Chaussard on his win at Kemper Lakes in the first Illinois PGA major of the year, the match play championship.

Time to go play everyone. RS

KEMPER LAKES MAKES IMPROVEMENTS

DID YOUR NEW CLUBS ARRIVE YET, if not order them today. Next week the U.S. Sr. Women’s Open at Pine Needles, edition 2. More coming on Monday and at USGA.org.   _____________________________________________________________________

THE FORMER Payne Stewart Room and pro shop, along with head golf professional Jim Billiter’s office, have been cleared out and the walls torn down.

The members will get a new 19th hole per say, with an updated look. A full bar with big screen television’s, and a new climate controlled wine room. A new members patio will be built. The current dining room has new lighting, and various pictures of Payne Stewart from the Payne Stewart Room have been relocated into the main dining room.

  THE NEW but temporary pro shop, contains merchandise space and a new office for Jim Billiter. The new pro shop will become a separate building from the clubhouse.

Work along Old McHenry Road is drainage for new homes, that will be built east of the front entrance. Those homes will sit back from the left side of holes 1 & 2.

More information on Kemper Lakes Golf Club at Kemperlakesgolf.com.

CHAUSSARD GOES BACK-TO-BACK AT IPGA MATCH PLAY

DYLAN MEYER and VINCE PELLEGRINO (WGA) discuss the upcoming Evans Scholars Invitational May 23-26 at the Glen Club. See RyderCup.com new packages for hospitality are now available. Come see the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits Sept. 2020    _____________________________________________________________________

2019 IPGA Match Play Champion Garrett Chaussard. Photo Courtesy of IPGA and by Master Photographer Nick Novelli.

HE DID IT AGAIN. Skokie Country Club’s Garrett Chaussard joined elite company, in becoming only the fourth player to win the Illinois PGA Match Play Championship in back-to-back years.

Chaussard defeated Brain Carroll from Royal Hawk Country Club, 2 & 1 in the championship match.

“Having not played much this year, it was a little surprising to come out striking the ball as well as I did,” said Chaussard. “I was able to get into good rhythms in each match. Even if I hit a few poor shots, I was able to refocus and get a handle on things. Especially in the last match, even though Brian put pressure on me, I was able to stay patient and wait for good shots to happen.”

During the championship match, only three holes of the 17 holes played were halved.

Chaussard got the early lead by winning the first hole. But after going back and forth through the next six holes, Chaussard won holes 8 and 9 and was 2up at the turn.

Click here to hear our interview with Match Play Champion Garrett Chaussard.

After losing holes 10 and 11 to lose his lead. Chaussard then won holes 13 and 14 to go 1up. Chaussard then won the par 4, 16th hole to go 2up. Because the par 3, 17th hole was halved, Chaussard had regained the title. He joined Bill Ogden, Bob Ackerman, and Curtis Malm, as the only players to defend the title in championship history. A third straight win in 2020, would leave Chaussard tied with Malm, and Ogden as the only three time winners.

Chaussard said one of the keys for the week, was closing-out matches before getting to holes 16-17-18. Those holes have been named “The Gauntlet” by the Kemper Lakes Golf Club.

TOPGOLF CRUSH LAUNCHES AT SOLDIER FIELD

THE WEST BADEN Hotel at the French Lick Resort, Plan your visit at Frenchlick.com. DYLAN MEYER and VINCE PELLEGRINO discuss the new Web.com tournament the Evans Scholars Invitational (ESI) coming to the Glen Club from May 23-26. #WGAESF   _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Crushing the Epic Flash Woods in the Mistwood Golf Dome in Bolingbrook. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy

EVEN BEFORE Topgolf opens in Schaumburg this summer, there will be an invasion in Bear Country-Soldier Field Chicago.

No it’s not the Green Bay Packers sneaking in, they will come and maybe lose their opener in early September.

But from July 11-14 Topgolf Crush, will be on-tap on the Lake Front.

Golfers and or non-golfers can go crush golf balls from the South Endzone of Soldier Field, and hit them at targets spread around the field. Can you make it from 43 yards, or likely even longer. Good thing your job and the season is not on the line. Coach Matt Nagy and his staff will not cut you if you fail to grade-out or score well.

Toptracer Range is part of Topgolf Crush!

Tickets are now on sale to be a part of this event.

“Soldier Field is excited to announce our unique partnership with Topgolf by offering golf at our iconic sporting venue,” said Mike Kelly, General Superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District. “Soldier Field has a long history of offering distinctive special events from car racing to boxing, to ski jumping. The collaboration with Topgolf allows that tradition to continue. The Chicago Park District takes great pride in bringing one-of-a-kind experiences to Soldier Field. Not only do the events generate revenue to benefit the parks, they also allow the community opportunities to enjoy exciting special events at Soldier Field.”

This four day event will have food and beverages, along with music for fun. You can enjoy all of this, before and after golfing. Topgolf merchandise will be available for purchase. Topgolf targets will be from 75 to 140 yards yards away from the teeing area. At night, targets light up and will glow for a night golf experience.

Prices range from $50 dollars to $105 for VIP tickets, that allows patrons to have access to a hospitality area.This includes food vouchers, drink tickets, and a limited version of the Soldier Field Topgolf Crush hat. A $10 dollar voucher, redeemable at any Topgolf location in the USA.

To get tickets for this special Soldier Field event, please visit Topgolf.com/crush.

GOLFERS ON GOLF RADIO WEEK 7 TODAY

 DYLAN MEYER and WGA SR VP VINCE PELLEGRINO discuss the upcoming Evans Scholars Invitational at the Glen Club May 23-26. NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY has announced a $5.7 million dollar renovation to it’s Gleacher Indoor Golf Center. #CATS   _____________________________________________________________________

Golfers on Golf Radio in the studio at WNDZ AM (L-R) Ed Stevenson-Bill Berger and Rory Spears

IT’S ALREADY WEEK 7 for Golfers on Golf Radio. With the weather the way it’s been in the Chicago area, it’s hard to believe we are seven weeks into our Golf Radio Season.

But this morning, Golfers on Golf Radio will tee it up at 10 AM, on the BIG AM 750 WNDZ.

Our guests this morning include, Northwestern University’s Director of Golf Pat Goss, live from TPC Myrtle Beach the site of this week’s NCAA Regional.

We will hear more about Northwestern’s attempt to make the NCAA men’s golf national championships in Arkansas in 2 weeks. Goss will tell us more about the improvements that are coming to the Northwestern’s Gleacher Indoor Golf Center.

Around 10:30 Jon Claffey the Vice president of marketing for Tour Edge Golf based in Batavia, will tell us about their line of Exotics and the Drivers that have been a big hit on the PGA Champions Tour.

We will hear from Illinois PGA Section Match Play Champion Garrett Chaussard, who won back-to-back Match Play Championships with his win at Kemper Lakes Golf Club this past week.

WEEK 7 Golfers on Golf Radio on the tee at 10 AM-Am 750 the BIG WNDZ. Won’t you join us.

IPGA MATCH PLAY ADVANCES TO FINAL FOUR

TOUR EDGE GOLF OF Batavia Illinois, making strides on the PGA Champions Tour and on golf courses around the world. Hear from VP of Marketing Jon Claffey this coming Saturday May 11th on Golfers on Golf Radio Am 750 WNDZ at 10 AM. PAT GOSS Director of Golf at Northwestern University joins us from Myrtle Beach where the Wildcats are preparing for next weeks NCAA Regional’s. Golfers on Golf Radio WNDZ  _____________________________________________________________________

WELCOME TO KEMPER LAKES GOLF CLUB-where holes 16-17-18 are known as the Gauntlet. Kemper Lakes Golf Club home of the Illinois PGA Match Play Championship.

THE GOG BLOG-by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy.

THE ILLINOIS PGA Match Play Championship made it through day 3 of play. Leaving just the four finalists to compete for the title on Thursday. The four #1 seeds were the four players advancing to semi-final play.

Defending Champion Garrett Chaussard of Skokie Country Club, advanced after a tight match with Hinsdale Country Club’s Matt Slowinski. Dakun Chung from Twin Orchard moved on after defeating Tim Streng from the Wildcat Academy in 20 holes. Brian Carroll from Royal Hawk advanced defeating Eric Ilic of the Merit Club. Medinah’s Travis Johns rallied to win 17 and 18 to defeat Eric Hoff of Bryn Mawr.

Click here to hear interviews with Garrett Chaussard, Dakun Chang and Travis Johns.

Rain hampered play during the morning Sweet 16 matches, for just over an hour. But play was not stopped.

Final Four matches will be backed up one hour to allow the staff to help put the course in better shape, since heavy overnight rains are expected.