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.

CHICAGO GOLF SHOW RETURNS FEB. 22-24

REYNOLDS AT LAKE OCONEE an emerging destination, located halfway between the site of this years Superbowl, and the Masters Tournament, it’s time for you to have Georgia on your mind Reynoldslakeoconee.com. THE MISTWOOD GOLF DOME home of Toptracer technology, come see where all the winter golf action is happening. The Mistwood Golf Dome is located on Rt. 53 in Bolingbrook. For more information on the Mistwood Golf Dome, visit Mistwoodgolfdome.com or call (630)-739-7600. While at the dome visit McWethy’s Sportsbar, Mistwood Golf Dome a Top 100 Club Fitting location.    ______________________________________________________________________

Golfersongolf.com The Gog Blog by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin and Facebook. With Erin Hills very own Rich Tock at the Chicago Golf Show in Rosemont.

THE CHICAGO GOLF SHOW, Chicago’s only golf show in 2019, is back for another year from Feb. 22-24 at the Donald Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont.

The Chicago Golf Show is great place to learn more about new equipment and apparel for 2019. If you are planning a getaway golf trip in the year ahead, the golf show is great place to get started on your planning. There are numerous properties at the show that can help plan your trip to golf away.

ARE YOU READY TO WIN ? The Chicago Golf Show’s presenting sponsor the French Lick Resort, in French Lick Indiana, is giving away a free Golf Foursome Weekend, (worth $3,200) drop by the French Lick Resort Booth #801 and enter for a chance to win.

  THE LONG PUTT Contest will allow one lucky winner to win (2) free VIP tickets to the 2019 BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club. The tickets are for Sunday and they are Green Coat Club tickets ($1,590 value). Championship week is August 13-18.

Everyone attending the show this year will again receive a free round of golf from GolfVisions. The show includes demo day area’s where you can hit the latest in clubs from companies like Callaway and Mizuno.

PLAY GOLF YEAR ROUND at the Schaumburg Golf Club at 401 N. Roselle Road minutes from Woodfield Mall. The simulators have several new Top 100 and Ryder Cup courses. Tee it up today and be ready for the spring and summer golf season. (847)-885-9000 to book your tee time.

Show-goers get Free golf lessons from Illinois PGA professionals, you can have your lesson in the long game area or on the putting green.

Please support show sponsors like the French Lick Resort, the BMW Championship, the PGA Tour Superstore, GolfVisions, Illinois Junior Golf and the Illinois PGA, all year round.

So come and enjoy Chicago’s only golf show Friday-Sunday Feb. 22-24 at the Donald Stephens Convention Center on River Road in Rosemont. For more information on ordering tickets in advance, see Chicagogolfshow.com.

REYNOLDS AT LAKE OCONEE-MORE THAN JUST A GOLF COMMUNITY

 THE SCHAUMBURG GOLF CLUB at 401 N. Roselle Road has become a year-round golf facility, with the addition of it’s simulators in the lower level of the clubhouse. Now you can play the 2018 and 2020 Ryder Cup venues (R), or have matches against your foursome. While golfing, enjoy food and beverages from Chandlers Chophouse right upstairs. Be ready for the start of the outdoor golf season, by getting some rounds in today. Book simulator tee times at Schaumburggolf.com or call (847)-885-9000. #golf     _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG, by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin and Facebook. On the 6th tee of the Ridge Nine of the National Course at Reynolds at Lake Oconee in Greensboro GA.

IT’S A NEW NAME and a new look, and the best is yet to come. If you have never heard of Reynolds at Lake Oconee, that’s because this community has moved forward from the days of being known as a plantation.

The new owners are putting a fresh face on Reynolds, and everyone that visits, joins, or makes their home in this community, are enjoying the benefits.

Reynolds opened in 1988, and while the visitors back in the early days loved the property, they would often add, “but it’s out in the middle of nowhere.”

Welcome to Reynolds at Lake Oconee.

Years ago, there was some truth to that statement. Not anymore. Long gone are the days where homeowners had to travel 25 minutes to the closest supermarket, and other stores of need. Your chain drugstores, fast food places are right down the street. One of the biggest Home Depot stores you will ever see, is just a couple of miles from the from the front entrance. Closer to the entrance is the St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital that opened in 2013.

Where is Reynolds at Lake Oconee ? It’s just south of Interstate 20 in Greensboro Georgia. Greensboro is halfway between Atlanta and Augusta Georgia (that town where green jackets get handed out in April), and both cities can be reached in one hour just by driving the speed limit. Under an hour if your foot has some lead in it.

Former Medinah Country Club Director of Golf Mike Scully, is the new General Manager of Reynolds at Lake Oconee.

Reynolds at Lake Oconee is not just a golf club, it’s not just a golf development, it’s community that has grown another community around it. There are over 12,000 acres of land that comprise Reynolds, and it’s said there is another 7,000+ acres of water. Reynolds owns all the land around the lake, so when you talk about the destination property Reynolds has become, you are speaking to one of the biggest properties anywhere in the country.

In between the homes and the newly built cottages on the property, there are six golf courses, four marina’s, (a third boat storage facility is under construction now) tennis courts, a cooking facility, several pools indoor and outdoor, the Sandy Creek outdoor activities station opened in 2017, complete with 20 clay-shooting stations and room for the archery buffs as well.

If your looking for a place stay while on property, there are multiple options, including the new four bedroom cottages that sit on the hill right next to the National Course’s practice area, and in between the Tavern Building and the Golf Shop. For those who enjoy a first class hotel setting, there is always the glamorous Ritz Carlton.

The new Cottage Row at the National

There are six golf courses on property, five of them are open to resort guests, one of the courses the Creek Club, by Jim Engh that opened in 2007 is reserved for member play.

The courses have been designed by a variety of the games best architects. Bob Cupp designed the first course in 1988, The Preserve. The first golf course built at Lake Oconee by Cupp in 1986 the Port Armor course, was then acquired by Reynolds in 2005 and then renamed the Landing Course.

The 18th hole on the Jack Nicklaus designed Great Waters golf course, now under renovation.

In 1992 the Jack Nicklaus design, The Great Waters Golf Course is opened for play. When asked about the golf course Nicklaus said, “Great Waters is an appropriate name for my course at Reynolds. Other than hole #10, water is either in play or visible through out the back nine.”

Currently “Jack is back” and the Great Waters course is under renovation, with an expected reopening date of November 1st of this year. Recently Nicklaus was asked if he could sum up, how Great Waters will look after the renovation is completed in one sentence. Nicklaus responded by saying, ” I can sum it up in one word-spectacular.” Golfers on the Great Waters Course when it reopens will enjoy views that did not exist previously, due to the removal of trees that have opened up new sight lines.

The ninth hole on the Ridge Nine of the National Course by Tom Fazio.

In 1996 the National Course by Tom Fazio opened, the National has three nines, called the Ridge, the Bluff and the Cove nines.

Fazio says the course might be called National, but another name could have been “The Natural”, because of how the course plays and flows through the hills  and ravines that run along the water.

The Rees Jones Oconee Course opened in 2002, Jones feels his classic course design, that kicks in on the back nine, makes it one of the best back nine’s you will play anywhere. If you are in need of some golf, but not too much, there is always the “Quick Six” routing at the Preserve. There are six holes that all play no longer than 130 yards, and can be played at most times in no more than one hour.

You will never go hungry at Reynolds on Lake Oconee. The Langer Steakhouse is right on property, the Eighty8 kitchen for breakfast (one of the best southern style breakfasts you will find) and cocktails can be enjoyed all day long while enjoying the Preserve Course that runs just off the back patio of the clubhouse. The Tavern Building at the National comes complete with a full menu, and pizza’s that even fans of both Chicago and New York style pizza will enjoy.

  A cozy fireplace with big screen televisions await those who select a cottage at the National Course for their stay. The Oconee Langer Steakhouse sits right on property and walking distance from the Ritz-Carlton.

For those who need work on their game or to be fitted for clubs, the Reynolds Kingdom of Golf is right on property. (R) The new tavern Building at the National Course is a popular hangout for food and beverages.

Reynolds at Lake Oconee has a new General Manager in former Medinah Country Club Director of Golf Mike Scully, who arrived in Georgia after an almost six year run at Desert Mountain in Arizona. Scully is still settling in at Reynolds, but is already looking at the entire operation, and how to make the guest, the member, and the home owner experience even better in the days ahead.

If you are looking for a new golf destination, golf membership or home location, visit Reynolds at Lake Oconee, in Greensboro Georgia. More information can be found at Reynoldslakeoconee.com or by calling (800)-852-5885.

RYDER CUP 2020 VOLUNTEER INFORMATION AND MORE

 THE MISTWOOD GOLF DOME on Rt. 53 in Bolingbrook is your home for winter golf, and the home of Toptracer technology. Come and see what has golfers flocking to the premier indoor golf experience in the Chicago area. Coming up on Feb. 16th you can come to the dome and hit, or get fitted for the new Callaway Epic Flash Driver. AT THE ARLINGTON LAKES GOLF COURSE on Wilke Road, it’s time to get signed up for the season ahead, outings permanent tee times, or other events says head professional Tim Govern. See AHPD.org or call the course at (847)-577-3030 #3holeloop #6holeloop ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation, follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin and Facebook. On the 7th hole of the Bluff nine of the National Course at Reynolds of Lake Oconee.

IT MIGHT BE OVER ONE YEAR AWAY but the preparations for the 2020 Ryder Cup matches are underway.

Whistling Straits part of the Kohler and the American Club Destination Resort will be the host for the matches, that were most recently won by Team Europe in Paris France.

Whistling Straits designed by Hall of Fame designer and architect Pete Dye, has previously hosted three PGA Championships in 2004, 2010, and 2015, none of which were won by American players.

RyderCup.com

Ryder Cup 2020 has now opened the volunteer process for the matches. The registration runs through 11:59 PM on March 1st, of 2019.

The 2020 Ryder Cup is requesting 4,000 volunteers for championship week. The volunteers are needed for both on and off the golf course positions.

If you worked as a volunteer for the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, you should have by now received an email extending you an invitation to be a volunteer and being able to skip the open registration process.

Click here to hear the interview with 2020 Ryder Cup Championship Director Jason Mengel, on the volunteer process, and other 2020 Ryder Cup news.

Volunteers must be 21 years of age or older, and should be able to work at least four 4-hour shifts during championship week. Those volunteers that are selected, will have to pay a volunteer fee, in exchange for the Ryder Cup volunteer uniform by Ralph Lauren, parking, food, beverages and a credential good for all six days of championship week.

The 2022 Ryder Cup will be contested in Rome, before back to the United States in 2024, and will be played at the site of this years PGA Championship, Bethpage State Park, on the Black Course, located on Long Island in New York.

For more information tickets and other Ryder Cup news, see RyderCup.com.

THE GOG BLOG SPEAKS OUT-SEEING THE SOUTH IN 24 DAYS

THE SCHAUMBURG GOLF CLUB on Roselle Road in Schaumburg, is now a year round golf facility, with the addition of the simulator bays in the lower level of the clubhouse. You can now play yesterdays PGA Tour venue TPC Scottsdale. So why not be ready for the opening of the outdoor golf season, now less than 60 days away, by playing all year round. Schaumburggolf.com or (847)-885-9000 #Chandlerschophouse   _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin and Facebook. On the 7th tee of the Bluff Nine, on the National Course at Reynolds at Lake Oconee, Greensboro GA.

IT’S OVER, my 24 day trip to see the South, that covered nine states, has come to an end, and I’m back home.

I’m really sorry (not), that I missed all the real cold weather here in town. But even though I was down South, the weather for the most part was not great.

I did play 12 rounds of golf while on the move before and after the PGA Show, but only in one round did I enjoy over 70 degree weather, and that was for about nine holes, and the temperature peaked at 72. But hey, I was out playing golf, and that’s something right there. I did started the 2019 golf season at Talamore in Southern Pines, with Dormie Club later that day, yes 36 holes the first day. At Talamore the morning temperature was 35, and was 41 by the time I came in. Dormie Club was 42 on the first tee, and 43 when I came in.

It then rained 3/4 of inch that night that delayed my tee time on the Arnold Palmer designed Mid-South Club, but I did head out and cart-path only it around the course when it was 44 degrees. The next morning was Mid-Pines, it was 38 when I tee’d off and 45 when I got in, that afternoon on the famed Par 3-nine hole Cradle Course at the Pinehurst Resort, it was 47.

Pinehurst No.2 the next day, was 39 when we tee’d off, and around 48 when we got in. Always nice to play U.S. Open Courses in those temperatures. The following day was a look at the recently renovated by Gil Hanse, Pinehurst No.4, 42 when I tee’d off and 53 when I got in. Tobacco Road the next day, located 20 minutes from Pinehurst was 38 at 10:30 in the morning on the first tee, 55 degrees on the 18th green.

The First Hole at Tobacco Road, Sanford NC.

The heatwave came on Saturday the 19th, when at the Grande Dunes Golf Club in Myrtle Beach. 58 was the opening temperature, and 72 was the finishing number.

Then after the PGA Show in Orlando, where the warmest day of the trip was the first day inside at the convention center. I was indoors and it hit 78 outside. The weekend after the show in Palm Coast Florida just south of St. Augustine area, temperature’s peaked at 54 degrees for a round on the redone Ocean Course by Jack Nicklaus at Hammock Dunes.

I arrived in Fort Lauderdale that night in time for a downpour, that was almost 3 inches of rain between Saturday and Sunday. Between heavy rains and overnight low’s of 42 in Port St. Lucie 100 miles north of Miami, BIG 3 partner Len Ziehm and I failed to get in a game this year.

The Par 3, 5th green on the South Course at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor FL.

I crossed the state of Florida and arrived at Innisbrook Golf Resort, home of the Valspar Championship. I played the recently renovated South Course, and 52 degrees was the tee time temperature when I putted out on 18.

My final round of the trip was on the National Golf Course, at Reynolds at Lake Oconee. Tee times were held up 90 minutes, due to a frost delay after temperatures hit and overnight low of just 24 degrees.

THE PAR 5, 6th hole on the Bluff nine of the National Golf Course at Reynolds at Lake Oconee.

The drive home was interesting, as traffic around Atlanta, on a Friday night of Superbowl weekend was awful.

My planned hotel in Kentucky that night was sold out of rooms, so by Midnight I had finally found another one.

A pile up on Saturday north of Lexington Kentucky, left me parked in one spot for 43 minutes, and the heavy Kentucky fog, returned through most of Indiana on the drive back into Chicago. I document all this for anyone who wants to know how the trip went, and thinks it was all fun and playing golf. It wasn’t.

But there were highlights, and plenty of them. I actually started the trip with one night at the French Lick Resort, where I took a few bucks from the casino. In Pinehurst my 31 score on the Par 3 Cradle Course was good for nine holes. Playing Pinehurst No.2 is always a treat, so is the new Pinehurst No.4. The Pinehurst Brewery is really good, the BBQ, Brews and brick oven pizza’s are all to die-for.

Tobacco Road, that course I had heard for years, was a you love it or hate golf course. Well put me down in the “love it” category. If you like places like Sand Valley-Bandon Dunes or Streamsong, you will like Tobacco Road. Course architect Mike Strantz (RIP) was ahead of his time building a course like Tobacco Road.

THE PGA SHOW in Orlando was outstanding as always. If your not there you are behind your competition for that year. Taylor Made didn’t show at the show, so the Callaway’s, Titleist’s, Ping, Mizuno, Wilson and Tour Edge companies all raced past them for 2019. I don’t care who on tour plays their products, they lost ground to the industry. If i’m a TM staff professional, I don’t care about what they might do later this year. I’m concerned about what they are not doing, right now.

Our local Chicago equipment companies Wilson and Tour Edge are on the move up, and they should be, they are both making good clubs and golfers like them. It was good to hear that Wilson’s first batch of Cortex drivers sold-out. Callaway has a winner with the new Epic Flash driver, and it’s new ERC Golf ball that flew good in the cold-weather I was golfing in. Both Wilson and Callaway have great new Irons too. I came away from the show ready to replace every club in my bag this year, and I might do just that.

It was great to return to Myrtle Beach after three years away, and the thought of playing in the World Amateur there this August, is on my mind.

Innisbrook’s South Course renovation and new room renovations are very good, and their onion rings that former Innisbrook Sales Director and KemperSports VP Doug Schmidt hooked me on, never get old.

The final stop in Georgia at Reynolds at Lake Oconee was a great one. Former Medinah Director of Golf Mike Scully has found himself an incredible property to be in charge of. Six golf courses is just the tip of the iceberg at Reynolds. Georgia really does have a major golf destination property and Reynolds at Lake Oconee is it. They might not give away green jackets there in April, but it’s a wonderful time to visit. I can only believe things will get even better there, under Mike’s direction.

The portrait of Pete and Alice Dye that hangs in the mansion at the Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort.

One sad note, the world of golf lost a great lady with the passing of Alice Dye, wife of HOF architect Pete Dye, who is poor health of his own. Alice Dye believed to be a winner of some 50 amateur championships was 91. In her own way, Alice contributed to many of Pete’s designs, including ones rated in the counties Top 100 golf courses.

There is a great recap of Alice Dye and more in Jim Nugent’s Global Golf Post, that has added a subscription addition for a small amount of $. It’s well worth the read, see GGP+.

It’s always nice seeing many great friends from over the years when I get down south, and this year was no different. Now it’s time to gear up for our golf season here, the Chicago golf show is next on tap. But I still have plenty to write from the PGA Show, stay clicked in. RS

INNISBROOK’S SOUTH COURSE-BACK ON TRACK

THE SCHAUMBURG GOLF CLUB lets you plays this weeks PGA Tour venue, TPC Scottsdale, home of craziest par 3 hole on tour. It might cold outside today, so why not take it inside to the simulator bays of the Schaumburg Golf Club 401 N. Roselle Road, for details visit Schaumburggolf.com or call the club at (847)-885-9000. #indoorgolf        _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin and Facebook. At the front door of the Innisbrook Resort

(Reporting from the Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor Florida)

If there is one destination golf property that’s been on the move in recent years, it’s Innisbrook just North of Tampa in the town of Palm Harbor.

It started a few years ago with golf course renovations on it’s PGA Tour Course-Copperhead, a tour player favorite.

What started as a bunker renovation of Copperhead, turned into a full golf course restoration says Innisbrook Director of Golf, Bobby Barnes.

“In 2015 we had the oldest turf on tour,” said Barnes. “In 2016 we had the newest and that was pretty exciting.” Paul Casey is expected to defend his Valspar Championship when the championship returns in March.

The Par 3, 3rd hole on the South Course.

After Copperhead was restored, the next step was the North Course, and that was completed in late 2017. The North Course at only 6,325 yards is the resorts shortest course, but by no means the easiest. In fact the resorts members can make an argument for almost all four of the golf courses being the hardest.

The North Course had it’s greens redone along with other improvements to trees, tee’s and bunkers. In 2018 the process continued to upgraded all four of architect Larry Packard’s Innisbrook Courses.

The greens like the Par 3, 5th hole have a true roll to them since they were upgraded.

This past year the resort not only undertook a project that covered a restoration of the South Course, but a major room renovation that has guests buzzing about the new look.

While on the golf course, the South Course starts off with 4 holes that play through the trees, before it opens up giving golfers plenty of room to work the golf ball.

But those more wide open holes, have a little more water in play, and a bigger change in elevation, that make for some challenging lies.

The room renovations at Innisbrook have brought rave reviews.

The last four holes bring an interesting mix of tests for golfers.

The water factor starts coming back into play, and all those wide open holes fade away and trees start to come back into what golfers see off the tee.

Two of the courses last four holes are par 3,s. Holes 16 and 18 are longer par 3’s, with the 16th playing from 215, the 18th hole goes back to 190.

The final par 5 hole, the 15th, has a water carry and water down the right side of the hole, so golfers must pick their angle of attack into the green.

Click here to hear the full interview with Innisbrook Director of Golf Bobby Barnes.

The South Course plays anywhere from 4,975 yards upfront, to 6,620 from the back tee’s.

Another resort favorite for some members and golfers is the resorts Island Golf Course, the comes complete with it’s fair share of water, and some narrow fairways on a few holes. So if your ready for a variety of golf courses, Innisbrook gives you courses to pick from, and plenty of options for instruction or golf schools.

Another favorite activity of guests is to visit the resorts Salamander Spa, it’s a great place to get your body ready for the golf course, to relax after a round.

For more information on Innisbrook, part of the Salamander Resort Chain of destination properties and hotels, see Innisbrookgolfresort.com or call (877)-624-8055.

THE PODCAST PART 2-THE 2019 CHICAGO GOLF SEASON

THE INNISBROOK GOLF RESORT in Tarpon Spring Florida is home to Four 18 hole golf courses including, Copperhead, home of the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship, coming this March. See Innisbrookgolfresort.com and plan your next golf destination trip today. THE SCHAUMBURG GOLF CLUB, is now a year-round golf facility. You can choose a Top 100 golf course, including this weeks PGA Tour Course TPC Scottsdale home of the wildest Par 3 hole on tour. Visit Schaumburggolf.com or (847)-885-9000.    _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin and Facebook. In the office of Len Ziehm on Golf in Port St. Lucie Florida.

The Eskimo Open is in the books, and so is the 2019 PGA Show in Orlando.

Golf season for 2019 is underway, but there are still plenty of golf tournaments ahead to be played this year in the Chicago area.

There are plenty of stories yet to be told about the year ahead. Some tournaments have already started trying to recruit volunteers, and have started selling tickets.

The good news is that there will not be three big golf tournaments all held the same week again this year. 2019 Illinois Golf Hall of Fame nominee Len Ziehm joined us to give us his thoughts on the golf season and tournaments ahead in 2019.

Click here to hear the podcast with Len Ziehm looking at the golf season ahead in 2019.

There will be more podcasts with Len Ziehm over the course of the year. The Gog Blog returns this week.

THE LEN ZIEHM-RORY SPEARS PGA SHOW PODCAST REVIEW

 THE SIMULATOR BAYS at the Schaumburg Golf Club are open for play all winter long, come enjoy this weeks PGA Tour venue TPC Scottsdale on the right, and the crazy par 3,16th hole (shown without the stands) as you try to hit it close, and avoid the boo’s from your foursome if you miss the green. See Schaumburggolf.com or (847)-885-9000 ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, with Big 3 partner Len Ziehm, recorded live at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie Florida. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin and Facebook.

IT’S BACK…the PGA Show Podcast with members of the Big 3 of Chicago golf media group, Len Ziehm and the host of Golfers on Golf, yours truly Rory Spears.

With a few days to reflect on what we saw in Orlando, we break down the show and who were the winners and who was not not.

Did TaylorMade make a major mistake by not coming to the show, did they just get passed over by the other major players in the golf equipment business. Which Chicago companies hit it big on the equipment side, what shoe companies are on the move.

Click here to hear the Len Ziehm and Rory Spears Podcast and review of the demo day and convention center from the PGA Show.

Len and Rory will return with Part 2, a preview of the 2019 golf season in the Chicago area. So stay clicked in. The podcast was recorded in the Lenziehmongolf.com studios in Port St. Lucie Florida.

THE GOG BLOG SPEAKS OUT-YES FLORIDA

Cold Weather got you down. Go out and go in the Mistwood Golf Dome, Open until 10 PM daily, Rt. 53 in Bolingbrook. A Top 100 Club fitter and home of Toptracer. See Mistwoodgolfdome.com or call (630)-739-7600

WRITING FROM PGA VILLAGE in Port St. Lucie Florida.

No the weather has not been great, but it sure beat’s being at home. But the Gog Blog after some 24 days on the road, heads back to the home base this weekend.

Please clear all the roads of snow, and get the temps back to at least 30 degrees.

For the most part, I have not seen a lot of sun, or played much of my golf in temperatures of at least 60 degrees. It’s been a lot of 35-55 degree golf, but I’m playing at that is something in itself. After being sidelined last year with limited vision before my eye surgeries, the rounds were down, and I’m planning on not letting that happen again.

After attending the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show, I am really fired up to play more this year, and revamp my bag with new clubs. On the club side there is plenty to be excited about, and much to like in the lines of new clubs. Including what’s coming out from our local equipment suppliers, Wilson Golf, and Tour Edge Golf.

THE NEW EPIC FLASH DRIVER by Callaway, on the range at the Brad Brewer Academy in Orlando Florida.

On the driver front, I’m not sure there has been a year in recent memory to go get a new driver.

The is a huge buzz around the new Callaway Epic Flash driver, it has what golfers are looking for and that is more speed. It has a good feel and the ball is jumping off the face, if your buying a driver in 2019, do check out the Epic Flash before you make a decision.

But great drivers don’t stop there, Evan Hoffman’s Cortex the winner of Wilson Golf’s Driver vs Driver 2 program, has created a solid driver that will send your golf ball flying down the fairway. I hit the Cortex finally, at the end of the show and came away very impressed, and apparently so are golfers. The initial run of Cortex drivers made by Wilson has already sold out, and more are being built. Just to bounce off drivers for a second here, I spoke with Ryan First the Wilson Golf Territory Manager who got me to try the new Wilson D7’s Irons, and they have a great feel to them, the weighting seems like they not leave you with stinging hands after hitting shots on the cold days. For those of you in need of new Irons this summer, take a look at the D700’s before you make a decision.

Evan Hoffman the designer of the Wilson Cortex Driver, has much to be smiling about these days, after winning Driver vs Driver 2.

Batavia based Tour Edge Golf is on the move as well. Their line of Exotics is gaining in the the market, and a line of six champions tour players are now endorsing their product. The Tour Edge Tour Exotic EXS Drivers are solid.

Champions Tour leaders like Scott McCarron, Tom Lehman, Duffy Waldorf and Rocco Mediate are all endorsing Tour Edge, whose new product is catching the eyes of golfers and not just on the PGA Champions Tour.

If you are looking at new products in your golf bag this summer, don’t be afraid to check out the local golf companies from the Chicago area both Tour Edge and Wilson. Both companies are making very good clubs, that golfers of all levels should be looking into.

Both Titleist and Callaway have made improvements to their golf balls. For Titleist the Pro V1 and Pro V1x have been improved, and the new Callaway Soft ERC golf balls do fly well, and I found out they were a good ball when being used in 30-40 degree weather.

Champions Tour Player Scott McCarron with Tour Edge President David Glod look at the new Tour Edge Exotics at the PGA Show.

What else jumped out at the show. The presence of both Top Golf and Toptracer, and I will have more on that here in the days ahead, and in the first issue of Chicagoland Golf, that appears at the Chicago Golf Show late February in Rosemont. The only winter golf show in town this year, with both the Lake County and Tinley Park Shows being cancelled.

TopGolf had major convention floor and demo day space, their new facility in the Chicago area, will open in Schaumburg late this summer.

Golf shoes, they keep getting better and better every year. FootJoy, Callaway, Adidas and New Balance had new shoes out this year. Shoes with more comfort added protection on the area’s that wear the most, shoes that will keep your feet dryer when needed on wet days. New Balance has really created a new shoe golf shoe line, after being the shoe for years for runners, and marathon runners.

With several equipment companies making returns to the show this year, or adding floor space, I don’t think that TaylorMade was missed all that much. If I’m a TM staff professional, I have to question why. Rumor was that TM will release new products later this year, and their presence at the show could cause informational leaks about what they have in the drawing board. If you want to believe that.

The apparel companies all had some interesting product designs for the spring and summer ahead, I have a story with Antigua and Greg Norman apparel lines coming up.

Oak Brook Terrace base Zero-Friction has some great new golf gloves and is continuing to make progress in the section of the market, also check out their colored golf balls and various tee models.

Peakvision a newer company in the world of sunglasses, had CEO Davis Feaser at the show, I am finding that they are a great design and feel great on and off the golf course. See peakvision.com for more details.

I’m in the offices today of Lenziehmongolf.com in Port St. Lucie at PGA Village, don’t forget to visit Len’s site for more details on the PGA Show. The Gog Blog returns this week from the Sunshine State. Stay clicked in. RS

THE GOG BLOG’S SUNDAY MORNING SHORT GAME-LATE EDITION

  THE SCHAUMBURG GOLF CLUB now has year round golf in it’s simulator area, in the lower level of the clubhouse. Why not play a round of golf this week, on this weeks PGA Tour venue, TPC Scottsdale (R) the home of the crazy par 3,16th hole. For more details please visit Schaumburggolf.com or call to reserve your tee time at (847)-885-9000.        ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin and Facebook. On the 17th hole of the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort.

THE DAYS STARTS with a Kudo’s to Doug Ghim on his Top 20 finish at the Farmers Insurance Classic on the PGA Tour this past week.

Ghim opened the week with a 63 and was T-4 heading into the final round, but backed up with a 75 on Sunday. Ghim made the most of his sponsors exemption, and hopefully he will get more shots at the PGA Tour when he’s not on the Web.com Tour this year.

Ghim has said he will play in the Web.com event at the Glen Club that will be run by the Western Golf Association, and benefit the Evan Scholars. Tickets for that event that will run into the Memorial Day weekend are not on sale. Visit WGAESF.org for details.

CONDOLENCES to everyone who knew former Cog Hill Superintendent Ken Lapp who passed away on Jan. 18th. Lapp (82), worked at St. Andrews in West Chicago for six years, before moving to Fresh Meadow in Hillside in 1955. In 1973 he went to Cog Hill Golf & Country Club where he stayed through 2012. When he retired in 2012, he was one of only 10 superintendents who had host 20 or more PGA Tour events, and three USGA Championships including the 1997 U.S. Amateur.

“Ken’s dedication, love and passion for agronomy is unmatched and his legacy will forever be intertwined with Cog Hill,” stated Frank Jemsek, Cog Hill owner. “He will be greatly missed.”

The Clubhouse at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor Michigan.

Joshua Doxator, PGA has been selected as the new General Manager of The Jack Nicklaus Signature Design Golf Course at the Harbor Shores Resort in Benton Harbor, Michigan. Doxator was selected as part of a national search to fill the position.

Doxator will start at the club on Feb. 18th and has a reputation for being an innovator in the golf industry for guest services, and food and beverage operations.

Doxator joins Harbor Shores after after previously serving as the PGA COO at Thornberry Creek, the official golf course of the Green Bay Packers.

“I am excited to join a team that has used golf as a redevelopment catalyst for it’s community and, as host to the most prestigious Championship in senior golf, and continues to be a centerpiece for growing the game,” said Doxator.  The Sr. PGA Championship will return to Harbor Shores in 2020.

The Medinah Country Club, clubhouse. Home of the 2019 BMW Championship.

The 2019 BMW Championship is still looking for volunteers. Response has been strong for the championship, as 1,500 of the 2,000 volunteer positions have been already filled.

The championship will be played from August 13-18 at the Medinah Country Club.

This will be the first time the championship will be held at Medinah since the 1966 Western Open. Volunteers work both inside and outside the ropes of the championship, and there are 22 volunteer committees. Shifts range from 4-6 hours and volunteers are asked to purchase a volunteer package at $129. The value of the package is $629. As a volunteer you receive Two Peter Millar shirts, one Peter Millar outerwear piece, one BMW hat or visor, and a BMW Championship Pin. register at BMWChampionship.com.

The 102nd WGA Junior Championship at Rich Harvest Farms

Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove will host it’s first WGA Championship since the Western Amateur in 2015, when it hosts the 102nd Western Junior Golf Championship.

The Western junior is the oldest junior championship in the United States. This years championship runs from June 17-20.

This years championship will have a field of the top junior players from over 40 states, and will have international players. The field is 156 players, and the top three finishers get exemptions into the Western Amateur. Past winners include Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler. Admission is free, volunteers can sign up at WGAESF.com.

Crane Lakes in Daytona Beach is a course built for speed.

Speed is always a topic of conversation in the Daytona area in January and February.

With the Daytona 500 running along with other smaller races, Daytona is a place that has a need for speed.

Golfers who enjoy playing fast will enjoy Daytona area courses like Crane Lakes, that is only 5,200 yards from the back tees. The par 66 course has eight par 3’s. The Hidden Lake golf course is a par 69 that plays 5,424 from the back tees, and none of the par 4’s reach 400 yards. Riviera Country Club is only 6,250 all the way back, but is viewed as an old school golf course with pace-of-play in mind. Daytona Beach has some 30 golf courses, and you can learn more at DaytonaBeach.com/things-to-do/golf.

The Gog Blog returns late on Monday.

THE OCEAN COURSE AT HAMMOCK BEACH RESORT-JACK IS BACK

  THE MISTWOOD GOLF DOME, is now open daily until 10 PM, come checkout the new Toptracer and McWethy’s Sportsbar on Rt. 53 in Bolingbrook (630)-739-7600. IT’S year round golf at the Schaumburg Golf Club on Roselle Road, the simulaotrs havebeen updated with Top 100 and Ryder Cup courses. Schaumburggolf.com (847)-885-9000.     _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation, Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin and Facebook. On the 17th hole on the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort.

MATTHEW WAS HERE and now Jack is back.

The Hammock Beach Resort in the Palm Coast area on the East Coast of Florida, has a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course, that included six golf holes that gave views of the Atlantic ocean, that is normally a great golf experience.

Then one day in October of 2016, the course had a visit from the forceful winds of hurricane Matthew and things changed quickly.

The Bermuda grass was never intended to handle the amount of salt water that Matthew dumped on the Ocean Course. The nine foot waves crashed all over the course and killed the grass, and did damage to other parts of golf course.

The par 4, 9th hole runs along the ocean, and is rated as the No.1 handicap hole on the golf course.

So on October 6th of 2016 the course was closed and the Nicklaus design team was contacted, and a master plan was created to restore the ocean front golf course.

The restoration of the golf course included staying with the original Nicklaus design, but included a re-grassing of all fairways, greens and rough, with a salt-tolerant “Platinum Paspalum.”

Reconstruction was needed to repair all of the tee boxes, bunkers and green complexes, most of which has been damaged in the storm. But the work didn’t stop there. The Ocean Course has a dune line that runs for over a mile, and is still being restored to the guidelines created by the State of Florida Conservation Department. As a result, there are some new dunes forming that are creating better protection for the coastline, while the clearing out of the bush-line along the coast, has created amazing  new views for golfers while playing the Ocean Course.

The 174 yard par 3, 17th hole on the Ocean Course.

Nicklaus told resort officials, that he still liked the original design, and didn’t want to change the golf course during the restoration, just restore and improve what had been lost or damaged during Matthew.

There is a fair amount of water on the Ocean course, and not just along the ocean. But it doesn’t make the golfer repeatedly hit forced carries into the green.

The course has six sets of tee’s to play from and the yardage ranges from, 4,202 up front, to the Level VI tees or the tips that play at 7,176 and to a par of 72. At times, the wind off the ocean can be strong so golfers should take that into account before deciding what set of tee’s to play from.

Since the restoration the Ocean Course has received several awards from various national golf publications.

   The view from the bridge on the way to the first tee, and the plaque that tells about the work done by the Nicklaus Team.

Click here to hear an interview with General Manager Brett Hauer, and Head Golf Professional Jeff Hager, on the Ocean Course, the Hammock Beach Resort, and the resorts second golf course, The Conservatory by Tom Watson, located just minutes from the resorts hotel, has served as one of the host golf courses for the B1G Ten Conference Men’s Match Play Golf Championship, along with the Ocean Course.

  The clubhouse at the Conservatory the Hammock Beach resorts second golf course designed by Tom Watson, and par 4, second hole at the Conservatory (R).  The Conservatory at 7,740 yards is the longest course in the State of Florida, and has the highest slope and rating.

  The Hammock Beach Resort Hotel, and a sunrise view of the ocean from one of the spacious rooms located within the hotel (R).

Hammock Beach Resort is located 20 miles south of St. Augustine on Florida’s east coastline, with scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean. It has numerous activities besides golf, and they include a highly rated spa. In the clubhouse is the resorts Atlantic Grill for fine dining. There are multiple pools where you lounge and decide if a dip in the ocean or the pool is best for you. If your game is Tennis or Volleyball, Hammock Beach has those options for you. There is plenty to do for the kids and summer is a busy time for the resort, since with it’s ocean front location, the resort does not get as hot as some other locations in Florida.

The drive to Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom and other Disney Park’s is only 90 minutes. There are more planned improvements for the resort in the months ahead, so click into the resorts website at HammockBeach.com. The resort phone is (386)-246-5500, and pro shop number for tee times or other golf questions is (386)-447-4611. The resort is an easy drive from either the Jacksonville or Daytona Airports.