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.

ENDSLEY NAMED 2018 KPMG CHAMPIONSHIP DIRECTOR

  NO SNOW at the CRADLE in Pinehurst. The par 3 course is open, see Pinehurst.com. Need new clubs, it’s time for a fitting, go to Highland Park and or visit TrueSpecgolf.com ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. On the 16th tee box at Kemper Lakes Golf Club home of the 2018 KPMG Championship

In 2018 the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship will be held at the Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer, after a successful week at Olympia Fields last June.

Tournament week in 2018 is June 26 through July 1st.

This week the PGA of America has named Jacquelyn Endsley as Championship Director for this coming years championship.

Endsley previously served as the championship manager at the 2015 U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania. The 2015 U.S. Women’s Open was the most attended women’s open in history.

          KEMPER LAKES IN KILDEER  will host the 2018 KPMG Championship. Above the famed par 5, 15th hole.

Endsley a native of Kohler Wisconsin, spent three years with the NCAA working in corporate relations, marketing and broadcasting. Endsley also spent time with the KemperSports management team, Harborside International, the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA and Kohler Company.

“We’re very excited to welcome Jacquelyn to the PGA of America,” said Kerry Haigh, Chief Championships Officer of the PGA of America. “Jacquelyn has a wealth of previous championship experience, but we also were drawn to her ability to connect with a wide range of people to grow the collaboration between the PGA, KPMG and the LPGA.”

The KPMG Women’s PGA Championship is a collaboration between KPMG, the PGA of America, and the LPGA, it combines a world class, annual golf champion at a major level, while providing a forum for KPMG’s Women’s Leadership summit and the KPMG Future leaders program, that looks to grow women in the business world in the years ahead.

Danielle Kang who won the championship this year at Olympia Fields, is expected to defend her title. A majority of the top players on the LPGA Tour and Women;s golf are expected to compete at Kemper Lakes.

For more information about the 2018 championship, please visit KPMGWomensPGA.com. Kemper Lakes is the former home of many statewide and national golf championships, the most famous was the 1989 PGA Championship won by the late Payne Stewart.

Volunteer and ticket opportunities are now available for the championship. For more information on the championship stay clicked into this website.

TALKING WITH CHAMPIONS PRESIDENT GREG MCLAUGHLIN

   THE INAUGURAL U.S. SENIOR WOMEN’S OPEN at the Chicago Golf Club, July of 2018, volunteer registration opening soon. THE SR. PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP, now has volunteer registration open. The Sr. Players Championship at Exmoor, July 2018.    ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter @GogBlogGuy.

It’s been a few years since the PGA Champions Tour left town. With the end of the Encompass Championship, the champions tour left Chicago and moved north with the berth of what’s being called the AM-Fam tournament in Madison Wisconsin. Sponsored by American Family Insurance.

Steve Stricker is the playing chairman of that event, which has raised millions of dollars for hospitals in the area.

But now after a few years absence, senior men’s golf is back in town, even if it’s a major championship, and only for one year.

Greg McLaughlin current official PGA TOUR staff headshot.
(Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

The Senior Players Championship presented by Exelon, comes to Exmoor Country Club in the second week of July.

Before the senior players arrives at Exmoor they will be on tour for six months. Currently the champions tour players (all remaining 36 of them) are still wrapping up the Charles Schwab Cup (tour championship) in Arizona.

Former Western Golf Association Tournament Director Greg McLaughlin is now the president of the PGA Champions Tour.

Earlier this week McLaughlin officially announced the 2018 Champions Tour Schedule.

After doing so on live TV, McLaughlin joined BIG 3 partners Len Ziehm and Golfers on Golf for a conference call about the tour and what lies ahead in 2018.

Click here to hear the interview with Champions Tour President Greg McLaughlin.

More information on the PGA Champions Tour, is found at PGATour.com.

GROH-HALLBERG-SMITH 2017 ILLINOIS HOF CLASS

 THE U.S.SR WOMEN’S OPEN July of 2018 at the Chicago Golf Club, volunteer opportunities coming soon, stay clicked in or visit USGA.org. The Cradle at Pinehurst is now open, par 3 golf at it’s best, designed by architect Gil Hanse. Visit Pinehurst.com.  ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory to the French Lick Resort and the Donald Ross Course in it’s 100th Year, and on Facebook, linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy.

The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame recently held it’s Bi-Annual induction dinner to enshrine the Illinois Hall of Fame Class of 2017.

Golf professionals the Horton Smith, Gary Groh and Gary Hallberg were inducted this year.

The three professionals joined 82 already enshrined members. The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame is located at the Glen Club. The next class to be inducted will the Class of 2019. The hall of fame was created in 1989 by the Illinois PGA Foundation to recognize those who have contributed to the game of golf here in the State of Illinois.

Ill PGA Hall of Fame inductees Gary Hallberg, Gary Groh, Horton Smith on Friday Oct. 27, 2017. Charles Cherney/Illinois PGA

The Class of 2017.

Horton Smith, was the winner of the first and third Masters Tournament, while winning 32 tournaments on tour. Smith had an association at Oak Park Country Club  during his masters victories.

Smith has seven wins during his rookie year on tour and made the Ryder Cup team. Smith served as president of the PGA of America from 1952-54.

The Horton Smith Award named in his honor is for his efforts to help golf professional receive continuing education.

GARY HALLBERG, was a three time winner on the PGA Tour, and a winner on the Champions PGA Tour in 2010. He was a member of the winning 1977 Walker Cup Team, and was a four time All-American while playing for Wake Forest. He had back-to-back wins at the North-South Amateur at Pinehurst. His international wins gave him victories on four continents. Hallberg won the state amateur and state open two times each.

GARY GROH, the long time head golf professional at Bob-O’Link, was also the winner of the 1975 Hawaiian Open on the PGA Tour. During that tournament Groh defeated both Jack Nicklaus and his longtime friend Arnold Palmer.

During his time at Bob-O-Link, Groh won eight Illinois PGA majors that included the 1994 Illinois Open and four Illinois PGA section titles, his last win coming at age 57. Groh was victorious in 15 IPGA senior major titles. Groh had a run of 13 years where he did not lose in Radix Cup play.

The Illinois Golf Hall of Fame is now accepting nominations for the class of 2019, which will be selected in spring of that year.

THE GOG BLOG SPEAKS OUT-GOLF SEASON FADES

  IT’S AN EPIC YEAR for the Callaway Epic Driver and Woods, see Callawaygolf.com. The Innisbrook North Course has reopened from renovation Innisbrookgolfresort.com.    ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy At Bay Harbor Golf Club in Michigan, Rory’s Shirt by Antigua Golf Apparel.

IT WASN’T LONG AGO, that the fall golf season was warm weather and sunny days.

Now that is quickly fading and many golfers I have spoke with in the last week feel they have played there last round of the year.

I’m hoping that’s not the case, that somehow Mother Nature will give us that last blast of 2 or 3 days of temps in the upper 60’s or low 70’s. That would be great.

Later this month the golf domes will swing into Mid-season mode, and right behind that are the holidays and the season of cold temps and snow. If you are ready to head south and it’s about that time of year, I suggest a visit to Lenziehmongolf.com where Len has been setting the table for your arrival with recaps on several Florida golf destinations.

After checking out Streamsong, Len visited golf in the Daytona Beach area, and now has the inside scoop on the recently renovated North Course at Innisbrook Resort just north of Tampa. I’ll make my appearance there after the PGA show in January.

I HOPE YOU enjoyed my weekend features from the WGA Black Tie dinner on Friday night. Justin Leonard was an outstanding guest, while Mark Rolfing played the roll of MC.

I spoke with Rolfing about the Chicago Jackson Park/South Shore golf project on the Lake Michigan Lake Front. Rolfing remains optimistic about the project happening, but like one other scribe told me over the weekend, the project is already months behind since in 2016 the group promised work to begin this past summer. It didn’t. Like many things in Illinois, the question is always, where is the money going to come from.

Rolfing is convinced that corporate money will arrive from the big companies in Chicago like it did at East Lake in Atlanta. Unfortunately there isn’t a company like Coca-Cola here in Chicago, to step up and take the lead. Whether a now out of office former President Obama and or just out of court Tiger Woods having their names attached to this project can help, remains to be seen.

SPEAKING OF WOODS..not much talk about a possible suspension for Woods when he is ready to return to the PGA Tour. If a tour player can get busted for smoking a joint in his hotel room at the John Deere Classic, and be booted off the tour for a couple of months. Then Woods should get the same fate after his recent guilty plea in a Florida courtroom. Some recent PGA Tour suspensions that have been made public, are for offenses that are not in the same league as what Tiger recently committed.

WITH HIS WIN at the Turkish Open this past weekend, Justin Rose is now eligible for the World Golf Hall of Fame. Congrats to Rose who is a great guy. It will be interesting to see when he gets in.

RUNNING AWAY FROM THE USGA..the latest major news, is that the Olympic Club is now looking at a 2028 PGA Championship, and a 2032 hosting of the Ryder Cup. If so, it’s not likely they are back on the table for a U.S. Open around 2029. The same can be said for Southern Hills in Tulsa, that is on the table for a PGA Championship somewhere between 2025 and 2030.

Different clubs are looking at different championships with the date change starting in 2019 for the PGA Championships. Some northern based clubs might be out of hosting a May date PGA Championship.

ONE RECENT GOLF CHANNEL feature suggested it was for the USGA to get away from this PIng-Pong style of going from Coast-to-Coast for U.S. Open’s, and skipping everything in between. Not a bad idea.

What is a good idea, is picking a spot for that final outdoor round in the Chicago area for the 2017 golf season. it might be a 50 degree day, but get out one more time before the ground is full of snow.

The Gog Blog returns this week. RS

CAROL RHOADES NAMED 2017 IPGA PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR

  THE SAND VALLEY GOLF RESORT, is open one more day. Sandvalleygolfresort.com. NEED WARMER GOLF the Cradle at Pinehurst is open, see Pinehurst.com. #ALLPAR3 ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. With Mike Munro at The Green Street Grille in Bensenville

The Illinois PGA has named Carol Rhoades as the 2017 IPGA PGA Professional of the Year.

Rhoades becomes the first female Professional of the Year in the IPGA Section.

Rhoades teaches at the Golf Channel Academy of Chicago.

“We are privileged to have such an outstanding group of PGA Professionals in the Illinois Section that are dedicated to growing the game for everyone from the junior player to the weekend player to the elite player,” said Carrie Williams, executive director of the Illinois PGA Section. “This year’s Special award winners exemplify all the PGA of America has to offer the experts in the business and game of golf.”

IPGA 2017 Section Award Winners in front of Medinah Country Club

In addition that evening, the 2017 Players of the Year were announced for the section.

Kemper Lakes head professional Jim Billiter was the player of year, edging out Adam Schumacher from the Indian Hill Club.

Jim Sobb the Director of Golf at the Ivanhoe Club, was the Senior Player of the Year.

Rhoades the Professional of the Year is also an instructor at the Cog Hill golf and Country Club in Lemont. Rhoades is the first woman to win the award that has been handed out since 1955.

“I am deeply honored that my fellow colleagues would want me to represent our section. I accept this award with a great sense of responsibility and want to continue to do everything I can to grow and promote the game,” said Rhoades. “making golf fun and helping those that I have taught try to realize the joy of the game and selling the game on the values that make it different is really important to me.”

Carol grew up in Pennsylvania and was introduced to the game by her father. After earning her masters degree from Slippery Rock University, Rhodes moved on to five different clubs before settling in at her current facilities.

She has been a golf coach at two universities, William and Mary in Virginia and then the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is a former LPGA Professional of the Year, and has already won three other IPGA Section Awards, including the Bill Strausbaugh Award in 2002, The Player Development Award in 2008 and the Horton Smith Award in 2010. She has been previously nominated for the section teacher of the year award.

THE REMAINING AWARD WINNERS ARE:

Patrick Lynch-Cantigny Golf, Player Development Award                                                  Nick Cuca-Exmoor Country Club, Assistant Professional of the Year                                Louis Sauer-LS Golf, Teacher of the Year                                                                          Greg Barasel-Cantigny Golf Youth Player Development Award                                          Nick Papadakes-Onwentsia Club, Bill Strausbaugh Award                                                Todd Sones-Todd Sones Inpact Golf, Horton Smith Award                                                Dave Huber-Lake in the Woods Country Club, Bill Heald Career Achievement Award      Dave Schmaltz-Exmoor Country Club, Merchandiser of the Year Award-Private Club      Steve Grille-Randall Oaks GC, Merchandiser of the Year-Public Facility                            Reagan Davis-Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa, Merchandiser of the Year-Resort Facility.

On behalf of everyone at Golfers on Golf, we congratulate all of our IPGA section award winners. Well deserved.

Golfers on Golf, will have a recap of the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame Dinner this coming week.  Stay clicked in.

MARK ROLFING UPDATES JACKSON PARK PROJECT

   THE PAR 3 COURSE at Sand Valley, open this weekend see Sandvalleygolfresort.com True Spec Golf in Highland Park invites you to get fitted the right way, Truespecgolf.com ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. With Justin Leonard at the WGA Black Tie Dinner

During Friday nights Western Golf Association Black Tie dinner, two golf media members held media sessions with members of the Chicago media.

First up was two-time Western Amateur winner, British Open Champion, and 1999 Ryder Cup hero, and now NBC golf commentator Justin Leonard.

Then black Tie dinner MC and NBC golf commentator Mark Rolfing spoke with Golfers on Golf regarding the Chicago based golf project he is heading up.

Rolfing is working to help revitalize Chicago’s Jackson park and South Shore area, and redo the Jackson Park Golf Course, and turn it into a Southside on the Lake Michigan waterfront masterpiece. Here is his update on the project.

Click here to hear the interview with NBC’s Mark Rolfing on the Chicago South Shore/Jackson Park golf course project.

The golf course is part of a plan that would include former President Barack Obama’s presidential library. Stay clicked in for updates on this project as they occur.

JUSTIN LEONARD HEADLINES WGA BLACK TIE

   SAND VALLEY GOLF RESORT, open this weekend, see Sandvalleygolfresort.com. The U.S. Sr. Women’s Open is coming to the famed Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, volunteer information will be getting released shortly, stay clicked in or see USGA.org.    ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy with Justin Leonard at the WGA Black Tie dinner.

Friday night was the annual Black Tie  Dinner and fund raiser for the Western Golf Association (WGA) and Evans Scholars Foundation.

Originally scheduled featured speaker Nick Faldo had a last minute family emergency to attend to, so Justin Leonard the two-time Western Amateur champion at Point O’Woods in Benton Harbor Michigan, filled in on short notice.

Prior to the dinner Leonard sat for a media session, that covered his Western Amateur victories, experiences during the Western Open, the role of the caddie, how not a week goes by without someone asking him about his historic Ryder Cup putt at Brookline in 1999. Leonard spoke his new job with NBC as an on course golf reporter, and shared thoughts about what’s happening on the PGA Tour.

Click here to hear the interview session with WGA Black Tie guest speaker Justin Leonard.

Leonard announced he will work the NBC broadcast of the 2018 Sr. PGA Championship at Harbor Shores next Memorial Day Weekend.  Leonard also spoke about one area golf course is on his bucket list to play, find out which one during the interview above.

MC Mark Rolfing spoke with Golfers on Golf about the Chicago Lake Front Golf Project, coming soon so stay clicked in right here.

A RETURN TO SAND VALLEY GOLF RESORT

 THE SCHAUMBURG GOLF CLUB is nearing completion of Phase 1 of it’s three year renovation program, visit the Schaumburg Park District Website for details. Callaway is having an Epic year, see Callawaygolf.com for news on Epic and Steelhead woods.        ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy and to the Sand Valley Golf Resort. On the Par 3 course’s 14th hole.

(Reporting from Nekoosa Wisconsin, and Arlington Heights IL.)

In September of 2013 I traveled to New Buffalo Michigan, to meet with Mike Keiser who would be with architect Jim Urbina that day at his Dunes Club, looking at trees and area’s to cut back that had become over-grown.

When the walk was done, I sat with Keiser and talked about the Dunes Club, and a new project in Canada called Cabot Links. But what came out of that interview was the announcement of a new project in central Wisconsin.

Keiser said the land he was about to buy that December, (about 1800 acres) was sand based and it might get called Sand Valley. That observation was correct, the land had sand (plenty of it), and in the end the Sand Valley name stuck and a resort was born.

During the BMW Championship that September I spoke with Milwaukee Journal-Sentiniel and now Wisconsin Golf Hall of Fame golf writer Gary D’Amato, who told me he would be making a visit to Sand Valley later that fall. I told him I would be happy to join him on that first visit. So in mid-November I followed D’Amato to Sand Valley and he and I became the first two media members to visit the site. Since you could not drive cars back into the property, we met Craig Haltom (who discovered the property and relayed the find to Keiser), and jumped into Haltom’s large 4-wheel drive pick-up truck to tour the property. We still almost got stuck on multiple occasions.

    Top Row L, what Sand Valley was during our first visit in 2013. Gary D’Amato (L) and I during that first visit. Bottom Row (L) my second visit to Sand Valley in July of 2014, with over 600 acres of land already cleared for work to begin (Bill Coore had already staked out a preliminary routing of the Sand Valley course). Bottom (R) Craig Haltom found the Sand Valley site and shared his find with Mike Keiser.

 Above Left, the Par 3, Fifth hole on Sand Valley, (R) the Par 4, 9th hole at Sand Valley.

Keiser at first had his doubts about the site, he first dispatched Josh Lesnik of Kemper Sports to visit the property, telling Lesnik “give me a reason to say no”. Once there it took Lesnik only 30 minutes to call Keiser, and tell him “you better get up here”.

So Keiser made the trip to Wisconsin and it took him about 45 minutes to realize he had to make a decision and quickly. Then just a few months later, Keiser bought the land and the work to create a Midwest version of Bandon Dunes got started. By the end of 2014, shapers were hard at work and the planting of greens, tees and fairways was underway. In early 2016 nine holes had opened. By the 2016 U.S. Open weekend in June the first 13 holes had opened, and I was on my way back to Sand Valley for visit number three.

I arrived at Sand Valley as Dustin Johnson was on the back nine at Oakmont getting ready to win his first major. I checked into one of the four rooms that were open for business at Sand Valley, and then put my golf bag over my shoulder and headed for the first hole.

The first hole on the Sand Valley Golf Course.

A small hut was under construction at the time, right behind the first and tenth tee boxes.

At the time I was told it would be called Craig’s BBQ Shack, it later was named Craig’s Porch ( in honor of Haltom).

Once on the golf course I played the front nine, and then the tenth hole. After the tenth hole, I took the path to hole 16 and played 17 and 18 completing the 13 hole routing. Holes 11-15 were still closed, but three of the holes were open two weeks later, and all 18 by Labor Day weekend. The next morning I played the 13 open holes again, and walked the five holes that were closed. It quickly became apparent that Coore and partner Ben Crenshaw had carved another sensational routing on a remarkable piece of property. Sand Valley was on it’s way.

Shortly after the 2017 golf season started, all 18 holes on the Sand Valley were open and by fall six of the 17 holes on the Par 3 course had opened, nine holes on the second 18 hole course Mammoth Dunes by David Kidd are ready for play. 16 holes can now be played in the resorts last week of being open for business in 2017. The progress made by the resort over the last 16 months called for my recent return, so I go even with poor weather reports in the forecast.

   THE MAIN ENTRANCE is now on the northside of property, with the new clubhouse complete and open for business.

The arrival to Sand Valley is different than it has been in the past. The entrance is on the Northside of the property (Archer Road) and has a wooden sign to greet visitors. This is a big difference from when I first saw the property with D’Amato, that day we entered from the Southside and parked near a stop sign full of bullet holes and hits.

Last year I arrived through the gate on a gravel road, drove through packed down sand and pulled up in front of the lone open villa. Now one drive’s into the front circle of the clubhouse, checks in at the front desk and get your key to a clubhouse room, a villa, or a room at one of the two open lodges. During my recent visit construction was continuing near the clubhouse, as an addition with more rooms was being built.

Your on the first tee of the Par 3 course at Sand Valley. A course not yet named, but has been nicknamed the Sand Box.

There are two lodges now open for business at Sand Valley. The Fairway Lodge sits on a ridge that overlooks the 18th fairway of the Sand Valley course, with most rooms also having a view of the Par 3, 17th green.

The Dunes Lodge also sits over-looking the 17th green, but it’s the 17th and final hole of the Par 3 course.

Yes that’s correct, 17 holes make up the loop on the Par 3 course. Much like at Bandon Dunes, where Keiser told Coore and Crenshaw, here’s the land and just

The 16th green on the Par 3 course, with the Dunes Lodge and 17th green in the background.

go fit in as many good holes as you can. The Par 3 Course at Bandon Dunes is called the Preserve, and it has 13 holes.

But for those golfers who might want more golf after a regulation round of 18 holes, but not another full 18. The short routing’s of a short course can normally hit the spot.

The current holes that are open, are 1,2,14,15,16,17. Some of the other holes looked ready to play right now, but they will officially open next spring when Sand Valley reopens for 2018.

The Par 3, 14th hole on the Sand Valley Course.

If you played the Sand Valley course in 2016, there is a good chance you might not have played all 18 holes, unless you came late in the year.

The last five holes to open were holes 11-15. When I walked those holes in 2016, I found them all to be good holes but one hole really stood out, the 14th.

This little Par 3 (it can play 200 yards from the tips but most tee boxes play 150 yards or less), with some elevation change off the tee’s that sit about 20 feet higher than green level. It gives the look of one of the more well known holes at the famed Pine Valley in New Jersey. At the end of your walk around Sand Valley is the tribute to Haltom, Craig’s Porch, and I must say that the $1.50 Pulled-Pork taco’s are the steal on Sand Valley food and beverage menu. Get more than one, they are good.

Craig’s Porch, behind the 1st and 10th tee’s of the Sand Valley Course. Great BBQ options, that include Pulled Pork and Brisket taco’s.

If your going to be a golf destination you do need more than one 18 hole golf course.

By the time Sand Valley opens in 2018, there will be two open 18 hole courses.

The second course Mammoth Dunes by architect David McLay-Kidd is a real eye-catcher. It won’t take long for the golf course raters of the major national golf publications to visit and pronounce this course as a Best-New or Top 100, it’s that good and I didn’t even play all 18 holes.

Your on the first tee at Mammoth Dunes by David Kidd.

After two laps around the six open holes of the Par 3 course, and then playing Sand Valley during Day 1 on a 57 degree day, things got interesting on Day 2.

The rain I’m told is coming, but it is only 41 degrees and the wind is howling. But one look at Mammoth Dunes from the clubhouse and you tell yourself, not only does this course look incredible, but if this is Ireland or Scotland golfers would be out playing.

So on go the layers of warm clothes and heavy-duty all weather suit and out you go. Standing in the shadows of the Sand Valley clubhouse is the Mammoth Dunes putting green and first tee box. After a solid drive down the middle of the first hole, you feel much better about your decision to play. After all you are not alone, there is a foursome headed out 30 minutes after you. But until they tee off, you have Mammoth Dunes all to yourself, something that will rarely happen for any golfer going forward.

   (L) The approach shot on the par 4, second hole. (R) The Par 3, 16th hole from the elevated tee box.

Kidd did a tremendous job creating the routing he did, after Kidd’s “Plan A” didn’t totally meet with the outlook Keiser had for Sand Valley. When Keiser went to see Kidd’s first routing, he found holes that would require cart paths and carts to get the golfers around.

That wasn’t what Keiser wanted, and neither did Kidd. So it was back to the drawing board for Kidd, and when he was finished this time around, he had hit a Home Run.

When it comes to blind shots, there is always a mixed reaction from golfers on those who don’t mind them and those who do. What Kidd did in a magnificent way on Mammoth Dunes, was to create your share of partially blind shots. The best place to be in the fairway, might leave you a carry over the corner of bunker, or a dune. But you will see the flag or at least the top of it.

  The 18th green on Mammoth Dunes requires a solid approach shot, and this par 5 at only 523 yards from the tips is a handful when played into the wind.

I was only able to play 9 holes of Mammoth Dunes, but with the rain coming and winds picking up during the round, it was enough. I did get a good look at holes 6 and 14 that I didn’t play but are solid, and I hear the last two holes that are still not open 11-12, are incredible. Current open holes are 1-5 and 15-18.

If you didn’t make it to Sand Valley this year, you will want to make the drive up in 2018 when all the golf holes are open. Keiser says the resort did more rounds than expected this year, I can see that being a trend. The biggest questions now are, who will design the third 18 hole course, and how long until the facility hosts a tournament.

My recommendation is put Sand Valley on your bucket list for 2018. You can make reservations at (888)-651-5539 or visit Sandvalleygolfresort.com. Drive time from the Chicago area is 3 hours and 20 minutes from where Rt. 53 and 90 meet near Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg. I know I’ll make my fifth visit when the calendar hits 2018.

THE COG HILL DUBSDREAD BUNKER PROJECT MOVES FORWARD

  THE CHICAGO GOLF CLUB home of the 2018 U.S. Sr. Women’s Open July 9-16 of 2018, Volunteer Opportunities coming soon. NICK HARDY +1 leads the Illini into match play against defending national champion Oklahoma at the East Lake Cup. Which can be seen live today on the Golf Channel. Vanderbilt vs Oregon in the other semi-final.       _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. Wrapping up the fall college golf season. Watch Golf Channel live today, the East Lake Cup with Illinois.

The work started about one year ago, and now in less than 30 days it’s expected to be complete.

That work is the Cog Hill Course #4 “Dubsdread” bunker project, and now superintendent Chris Flick and his crew almost finished.

The green side bunkers were done by the time Course 4 opened for play this past spring. over the summer work started on the fairway bunkers, and the removal of some ten sand bunkers that are being turned into grass bunkers or no bunkers at all.

The fairway bunker on the 9th hole, on course 4 at Cog Hill. With the new Tour Angle sand ready to be packed into place.

The course has become much more playable than in the past few years with the changes.

However a recent Golfers on Golf visit to check on conditions, unfortunately took place on the day the course re-opened after three days of aeration and sanding. Both things are needed to maintain optimum playing conditions over the long and hot part of summer, and better conditioning in the future.

By now the fairway bunkers on the front nine are completed, and the fairway bunkers on the back nine are expected to be completed before Thanksgiving. While the final closing date for the year has not yet been determined, the window is closing for playing course 4 in 2017. The regular rates are now lowered for the fall golf season.

The Par 3, 14th hole complete with the new cart park, new tour sand and the removal of one large bunker, that now has a chipping area in it’s place.

Course 4 has a few other improvements that include, a cart park over-looking the par 3, 14th hole.

There are nice wood-grain and stained safety railings along the cart paths near the tee boxes on holes 13 and 14.

Some of the removed bunkers on the golf course, include the far-side of the first fairway where right down the middle tee shots used to end up.One of the two front bunkers on the 8th hole, on the right side of the fairway. A bunker on the backside of the 14th green, and the bunker on the right side of the 18th fairway near the maintenance shed and there are a few others.

So if your looking for a challenging golf course and Chicago’s top public and championship venue, play Cog Hill #4. If you find a trap or two during your round, you can hit from the same sand the pro’s do at both the Masters, and the Jack Nicklaus Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio.

Cog Hill does keep courses #1 & #3 open all year round, and the practice facility is open almost every day all year as well. There are heaters blowing down in the covered area’s. For more information on the new look Dubsdread, Course #4 at Cog Hill visit Coghillhillgolf.com or call (866)-COG-HILL.

THE GOG BLOG SPEAKS OUT-FALL GOLF SEASON FADING

  THE GOLF PRODUCT of the Year by Golfers on Golf at the 2017 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, SwingOIL an energy supplement in three different flavors, that heals your body. Used by Jason Day and displayed by CEO Thomas Healy, SwingOil.com      ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory to Sand Valley Golf Resort and on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy

It was nice enjoying a week where I got to play 75 holes of golf. The bad news was that I only played 30 of them in temperatures of more than 48 degrees. All 30 of those holes were played last Monday at the Sand Valley Golf Resort in Nekoosa Wiscosnin.

The rest of the week saw more golf at Sand Valley, Cantigny Golf and the north shore area gem Old Elm. All of the courses had projects going on, and I’ll have more on that below and in the next few days.

I am sorry that my schedule has not allowed me to post more frequently in the last 8 days, but that should change in the days ahead. It does sound like there could be some better and warmer weather by Thursday, maybe golf will be back on by then. However if you like playing in the upper 40’s, today tomorrow and Wednesday are for you.

Long John Daly (L) with Rory Spears, on the 9th tee at Shepherd’s Rock Golf Course at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.

Get well wishes to “Long John” Daly who collapsed on the golf course this past Saturday.

Daly who complained of knee pain the week before, was walking down a big slope off a tee box, when he went down near a cart path. Daly tried but could not put weight on his leg and was helped from the course. He was forced to W/D and take last place money.

Daly sits in 29th place on the money list, with the Champions Tour, Tour Championship just two weeks away. The top 36 players on the money list will play in the tour championship. Daly has been playing in recent weeks on the tour, and he told me during the grand opening event at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for the Shepherds Rock golf course, that his Vertical Groove Driver has helped propel his game. I hit Daly’s driver and was impressed with the result of my drive.

GUILTY AS CHARGED was Tiger Woods who was in court this past week on his drunken driving charges, for the night that Woods was found passed out in his damaged truck in Florida, and believed he was in California in route home from a golf tournament which was not the the case.

Woods was found guilty of a lesser charge, and is on probation for one year. Should he complete all the terms of his probation and there are several, everything from this situation can eventually be sealed in his records and erased like it never happened. In most sports players who commit offenses such as what Woods did, they receive additional suspensions from the league they play in. Woods should be suspended from the PGA Tour after it’s decided that he can resume playing. It will interesting to see what the PGA Tour does.

The 16th hole at, the Preserve at Oak Meadows in Addison. DuPagegolf.com

It was great to see the United States Golf Association (USGA) recognize the newly renovated Preserve at Oak Meadows with it’s first USGA event in 2018. A tip of the cap or golf visor to DuPage County Ex. Director Ed Stevenson, the board and architect Greg Martin for creating a golf course, that is being noticed on a national level shortly after reopening from it’s renovation.

On Monday July 9th The Preserve will host a U.S. Amateur qualifier, for the amateur to be played at Pebble Beach.

Many of the top local players trying to qualify for the amateur and trying to be the next Doc Redman or Doug Ghim will be there. I wish them luck on making it to Pebble Beach and Spyglass.

WHY USGA WHY..What’s the rush. With all the great golf destinations and clubs wanting a U.S. Open, what’s the rush to go back to Pebble Beach with a U.S. Open in 2027. That year should have been a Midwest site, Erin Hills again? maybe. Or Oakland Hills, Medinah. The USGA already has premature return dates to Oakmont, Shinnecock Hills and now Pebble Beach, at least the USGA waited ten years before a return to Pinehurst.

It’s time to spread out the U.S. Open’s and let more clubs have the chance to host the prize of American golf, it’s what exposes more people to the game in different area’s of the country.

The logo for the 2018 U.S. Sr. Women’s Open at the Chicago Golf Club, July of 2018

THE INAUGURAL U.S SR. WOMEN’S OPEN at the historic Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, will be played next July in the week of July 9-16. The USGA will be announcing it’s need for volunteers and begin the sign up process within a week or two. Stay clicked in here for more details.

 

BIG 3 PARTNER LEN ZIEHM is on the move in Florida. Len just completed 3 days at Streamsong Resort, where the new Gil Hanse Black Course is open. Then Len spent 4 days reviewing golf in the Daytona area. Check it all out at Lenziehmongolf.com.

I JUST GOT a mailer with coupons from the Wild Buffalo Restaurant and Pub located at the Buffalo Grove Park District Golf Course. The newly remodeled dining room comes complete with Video Gaming. Call (847)-215-9453 (WILD).

EMILY NASH the high school girl from Massachusetts who won a boys state regional tournament has been in the news. A couple of online golf publications have been in the outrage mode when Nash who won, was not given the trophy. She was offered the trophy by the boy who was awarded it, but she turned it down. Classy move by the young boy. Nash will not be allowed to play in the next round the state tournament. Rules state girls can play as part of a team, but not as individuals and her team did not advance. Nash didn’t know she couldn’t win if she won, but rules were there in advance.

While the outrage will continue, it’s time to move forward. Nash with all the hype, is likely to land numerous offers from colleges to play college golf, and in the end a  college golf scholarship is a much better prize than any trophy.

The Gog Blog returns all week long. RS.