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 525 courses in 39 states, and rates golf courses. He does golf course management and communications consulting, in the golf industry.

ARCHITECT PETE DYE PASSES AWAY AT AGE 94

THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation, follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. The Tinley Park Golf Show returns Feb.7-8-9, door open on Friday the 7th at Noon. See Tinleyparkconventioncenter.net

BY RORY SPEARS. Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy

IF YOU LIKE GOLF, you have to love Pete Dye. Dye the Hall of Fame Golf architect passed away today at age 94. His wife Alice passed away Feb. 1, 2019.

I have countless memories of Pete, always a character, and he always said what was on his mind. There was no “PC” in Pete’s World, and if you ever spent anytime with Pete, you are better off for it.

When it comes to Pete, I don’t know where to start, I could go on with stories about him for hours, days and weeks.

If you wanted to learn a little about golf architecture, Pete wasn’t always the best source. He would go on about moving dirt around, because there was a little extra over here, and we just moved it over there. That was the explanation I got about the “Volcano Bunkers” he built on the Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort. But it was the in between stuff that always left you howling.

Pete always had a tale or two, about some battle with the course owner. His stories about disagreements with Herb Kohler are classic. Once the Kohler folks finally decided to turn Herb and Pete loose talking about the 4 Kohler courses during major championships in Kohler or Haven Wisconsin home to Whistling Straits, it was comedy hour. Golf writers from everywhere just ate that stuff up.

THE PETE AND ALICE DYE portrait at the French Lick Resort.

About 8 years ago I told Pete I would be in Florida, and did he have any courses he wanted me to play. He said, if you need anything while your in Florida, just call me, I live in Delray Beach. So I asked for his phone number, Pete said just look it up, I’m in the phone book.

So I did, and he was, amazing. I will never forget opening day at the Irish Course at Whistling Straits. It was a shotgun start, my three partners and I were playing our first hole the par 3, 6th hole. My partners had hit, I was last, then Pete and Herb pull up in a cart behind me at the tee. Pete says hit it. I had 157  yards and hit a seven iron all over the flag. My ball hits about 5 feet from the cup, kicks right, rolls 15 feet and off the green and down into a bunker. I couldn’t believe it. Then I turn around and Pete and Herb are laughing and high fiving each other. Herb tells Pete, good job on this hole, lets go on to the next one and they drove off.

  THE PETE DYE STATUE at the French Lick Resort (L), the Pete and Alice Dye statue at Crooked Stick GC, Carmel Indiana.

OUR FINAL interview with Pete Dye on the 10th-and 11th holes at Crooked Stick, on BMW Championship media day in 2016. I knew it would be the last interview, since his health and memory were already in decline.

At the turn on the Irish Course, Pete was there watching golfers play the Irish Course and Whistling Straits. One golfer went inside the pro shop, and bought a copy of Pete’s book, “Bury me in a Pot Bunker.” He brought it back outside and had Pete sign it, then all the other golfers seeing that, went in the pro shop and did the same thing. I’m glad I went in when I did. I got the last copy. Pete signed it.

It’s a great book, and now I hope he gets his wish. RS

BIG 3 Partner Len Ziehm recalls Pete Dye at lenziehmongolf.com.

THE GOG BLOG SPEAKS OUT-2020 IS DOWN THE FIRST FAIRWAY

THE TINLEY PARK GOLF SHOW IS BACK-Feb.7-8-9, doors open at Noon on Friday, Friday admission is just $5.00. Tickets at Tinleyparkconventioncenter.net

2020 IS OFF THE FIRST TEE and marching towards the first green. Which is par for the course.

What makes the year ahead so exciting, is that there will be plenty to do for the Chicago area golfer.

First up is the return of two winter season golf shows in the Chicago area. The Tinley Park Golf Show returns after a one year break. South side golfers and those golfers from Northwest Indiana are thrilled about the news.

Friday February 7th is opening day, and the first tee time is Noon, when the doors open. Admission is only $5.00 on Friday, $10.00 on the weekend. The equipment companies will be there, at this time six companies including Callaway, Wilson, Tour Edge, Cobra Cleveland and Mizuno will attend.

There will be several contests to compete in, including long drive, long putt and closest to the pin. The Closest to the Pin Contest on Sunday winner, takes home $500.00 dollars, that will cover a few green fee’s, and a new driver or putter. Get your tickets today by visiting the Tinley Park Convention Centers website at Tinleyparkconventioncenter.net.

THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy and on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.

THEN THREE WEEKS LATER in Rosemont at the Donald Stephens Convention Center marks the return of the Chicago Golf Show from February 28 to March 1st. The shows presenting sponsor is the FIVE-STAR French Lick Resort in French Lick Indiana. You can win a Free getaway weekend at the French Lick Resort while attending the show. See Chicagogolfshow.com for tickets and details.

BEFORE OUR TWO LOCAL GOLF SHOWS hit the first tee, is the PGA of America Show in Orlando Florida Jan. 21-24. I will be attending, and reporting on the golf news from the new, along with the new products out for 2020. This includes both new companies or what the latest products are from the golf industries biggest companies in the game. Stay with Golfers on Golf for all the new from Orlando in just a couple of weeks.

2019 BMW CHAMPIONSHIP Winner Justin Thomas wins again at Kapalua, Maui. What most golfers on the tour, and fans of golf in general view as the start of the PGA Tour for the year, the Sentry Insurance Tournament of Champions is in the books. Thomas after a bad drive on the final hole landed him in the weeds, and then into a three-way playoff. Outlasted, Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele for the win on the third playoff hole, and punched his ticket back to Kapalua in 2021. The Sony Open in Honolulu tee’s it up this week.

PINE MEADOW GOLF CLUB in Mundelein has announced that it’s range is closed this week for renovation work.

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of the various flights on the different courses during this past weekends Eskimo Open at Cog Hill. Courses 1-2 and 3, all hosted players, and well over 100 players turned out for the first golf outing of the year.

HAVE YOUR CHECKED YOUR HANDICAP, it’s now valid world-wide. Check with the Chicago District Golf Association if you have a handicap registered with them. With the new system you number might have slightly changed. Visit CDGA.org for information.

WITH THE WEATHER GOOD FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR, courses that have remained open have made some serious income, in the off-season. On the colder days reports are good from the indoor domes, like the Mistwood Golf Dome in Bolingbrook on how many golfers have dropped in to work on their games. Whether it’s getting lessons, getting fitted for new clubs or just hitting balls or practicing their putting. Many golfers are getting a head-start on the 2020 golf season.

THE TINELY PARK CONVENTION CENTER. The Tinley Park Golf Show returns Feb. 7-8-9, doors open at Noon on Friday the 7th.

RORY MCILROY announced that he will make his first start this year on the PGA Tour at Torrey Pines.

ONE OF TOP COLLEGE TOURNAMENTS this spring will be the inaugural Calusa Cup at Calusa Pines Golf Club in Naples Florida, April 4-7. Many of the top rated schools will be participating. The host will be the University of Iowa, and the other Big Ten Conference school in the field is the University of Illinois. Calusa Pines is a Top 100 golf course, and I believe to be one of the best courses in Florida. It was designed by architect Dana Fry.

IT WAS REALLY NICE to see the new room renovation pictures from Innisbrook Resort that is celebrating it’s 50th year. Innisbrook just north of Tampa Florida, has four golf courses including the famed Copperhead Course. Copperhead is the home of the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour, and a PGA Tour course you can play. For more details see Innisbrookgolfresort.com.

I CAUGHT UP with architect Keith Foster this past week and it was good to hear his legal issue is behind him, and he is moving forward in life and with his course design business. Foster will have three major projects and several smaller ones happening in what will be a busy year for him. Foster tells me that his Iowa design the Harvester, a Top 100 golf course, reopened after renovation late last summer. But the Harvester is no longer a public course, it has gone private. The pictures of the new clubhouse look really good, you can see them at theharvesterclub.com.

THE GOG BLOG RETURNS THIS WEEK…I hope your 2020 is off to a good start. RS

XXIO PREPARES 2020 LAUNCH OF NEW CLUBS

THE FRENCH LICK RESORT HAS OPENED THE NEW VALLEY TOWER complete with connecting suites, great for groups of all types. The Valley Sports Book is open and you can bet all the games. For more on what’s ahead in 2020, visit Frenchlick.com.         _____________________________________________________________________

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

THE NEW X DRIVER-from XXIO

XXIO known for it’s lightweight designs in golf clubs, has created a brand-new clubs for 2020.

Starting with the XXIO Eleven’s and the X series golf clubs. Both sets will launch on January 21st, of 2020.

During the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando Florida, on demo day.

“We’re different than any other brand in the market, just as our new tagline suggests, and in 2020, we’ll showcase our differences to more players that we have ever before,” said Chuck Thiry, Vice President of XXIO USA. “We encourage all players to come out and ‘Experience the Difference’ of XXIO. My guess is that if you give us a try, you’ll see ball flight you haven’t seen in a very long time.”

Both XXIO Eleven and X clubs feature the new Weight Plus technology, that is expected to produce a more consistent and powerful swing. The new Weight Plus technology advances high balance point clubs, to another level.

THE XXIO NEW ELEVEN DRIVER.

Weight Plus effectiveness comes from the use of up to 13g of brass and rubber weights place in the butt-end of all XXIO shafts.

This mass of weighting according to XXIO, operates on a principle of a lever, so it assists in the takeaway, and reduces the effort needed to swing the golf club.

“We’ve been developing lightweight equipment for nearly two decades now,” Thiry said. “That kind of experience gives you a real understanding of, not only the benefits of lightweight, but also the benefits of accompanying technologies that you can pair with lightweight, to make the products perform even better. With our new Weight Plus counterbalancing technology, we are further pushing the limits of high balance point. It’s the combination of lightweight and high balance point that makes XXIO Eleven a game changer for moderate swing speed players.”

XXIO new technologies also include. Star Frame: XXIO Eleven’s Driver has a new rib structure to support a .45mm thickness. This allows for weight to be redistributed for better launch and forgiveness. A Cup Face that is the fastest for dead center hits, and miss-hits.

Double Undercut Cavity: Two slots have been cut into the iron body, behind the face to increase flexibility for better ball speed and distance.

XXIO will be a MAP of $199.99 for a single graphite iron, $299.99 for the XXIO Eleven Hybrids, $399.99 for the XXIO Eleven Fairway Woods and $649.99 for the Eleven Driver. XXIO Eleven ladies will be available in blue or Bordeaux color schemes.

THE TINLEY PARK GOLF SHOW HAS RETURNED, Feb. 7-8-9, of 2020. Friday admission only $5, $10 on the weekends. Contests, prizes and more. Doors open at noon on Friday. See more details at TinleyParkConventionCetner.net

The X line of clubs has the same philosophy as the XXIO line, but is built for better golfers, who are seeing a distance loss in their game.

X will be a MAP of $199.99 for a single steel iron. $299.99 for Hybrids, $399.99 for the X Fairway Woods, and $699.99 for the X Driver.

XXIO Putters are milled from forged 303 stainless and offer a stable putting platform with a premium feel. Tungsten weights in the heel and toe have expanded the MOI for more stability on the green. XXIO Mallet Putter comes in 33-34 and 35 inch length’s at a MAP of $299.00. The XXIO Blade putter comes in a 34 inches length at $299.99.

XXIO Eleven and X golf balls are designed for slower swinging players. Eleven has a soft feel and low spin for more distance off the tee. While X golf balls are for players with a higher swing speed. XXIO golf balls come in White or Ruby Red colors at a price of $49.99, while X golf balls comes in White at $49.99.

Learn more about XXIO at xxiousa.com.

COG HILL AND THE ESKIMO OPEN

THE FRENCH LICK RESORT-has opened it’s new Valley Tower, complete with suites the Valley Sports Bar and Sports Book-Bet the Games. See Frenchlick.com #greatgolf    _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram. With Cog Hill GM Tory Newport.

IT’S TIME FOR THE FIRST GOLF OUTING OF THE YEAR-The Eskimo Open at Cog Hill.

Tomorrow Sunday January 5th, is the date, are you signed up yet.

The weather is not supposed to be real bad for this time of year.

When your done, stick around and enjoy all the NFL playoff action.

Cog Hill now has Toptracer on it’s range, that is covered with heaters blowing down to keep you warm. There is a Toptracer tournament coming up later this month on the 18th, and there are outwear sales in the pro shop.

For more details on what’s happen at Cog Hill in the winter season, and for clubhouse and restaurant hours, see Coghillgolf.com. Or call the course at (866)-264-4455.

TINELY PARK GOLF SHOW RETURNS IN FEBRUARY

  THE TINLEY PARK EXPO CENTER is back being the site of the Chicago area’s first golf show in 2020. After not having a show in 2019, golf returns to Tinley Park in 2020. _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG-by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. The Tinley Park Golf Show returns February 7-8-9.

Show times are Noon-8 pm on Friday the 7th. Admission is $5.00. Saturday the 8th hours are 10 Am to 5 Pm, admission is $10.00. Sunday the 8th hours are 11 Am to 4 Pm, admission is $10.00.

Tickets at tinleyparkconventioncenter.net.

The indoor driving range area, will have representatives from Callaway, Tour Edge, Wilson, Cobra, Cleveland and Mizuno.

There will be a skills challenge with long drive, closest to the pin and long putt. There will be daily winners and Top 10. Closest to the pin on Sunday at 2 Pm, with a cash prize of $500.00.

While enjoying the show, stop in the 19th hole bar and lounge area, and watch the PGA Tour during the pebble Beach Pro-Am. Golf is back in Tinley Park, at the Expo Center on February 7-8-9. Come be part of the fun.

INNISBROOK TURNS 50-NEW ROOMS & THE SNAKE PIT ARE WAITING

INNISBROOK RESORT in Palm Harbor Florida, just 30 minutes North of Tampa Bay, is ready to celebrate it’s 50th year. New rooms and more await in 2020, Wanna Golf Away. ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, and on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. At the Osprey Clubhouse in Innisbrook.

50, it’s a good solid number. But for the Innisbrook Resort, it’s start of new things to come in 2020.

Innisbrook is in the final days of it’s major room renovations, just in time for the golfers in northern states to arrive for a needed break from winter.

Golfers should know that Innisbrook has not one, but four golf courses so you can always get a tee time.

The resorts famed Copperhead Course is home to the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship in March. It is a PGA Tour course that you can play. Just a few years ago, Copperhead was renovated and as part of the renovation, the bunkers were redone, and the white-tour angle sand was added. That gave the golf course a look, that is eye-popping.

Innisbrook’s room renovations have given the resorts accommodations a fresh and modern look.

Not to be lost as part of it’s 50th year celebration, are the extensive room renovations across the resort.

The one-and-two bedroom condo style suites, have added new modern style interiors. This fresh new look, has now replaced what was considered an aging charm to the rooms of the resort.

Added to the resorts suites, is brand new furniture, flooring and furnishings. Need more, how about stainless steel appliances, quartz counters, cabinets, lighting, draperies and few more small touches that will catch your eye, and make you feel right at home in Innisbrook’s spacious rooms.

The new room designs have created a more spacious floor plan. Room photo’s courtesy of Innisbrook Resort.

“Innisbrook has been a revered destination for golfers, families and conference groups for nearly 50 years, and the upgrades made to our accommodations have already received rave reviews,” said Managing Director Mike Williams. “These improvements are just another testament to our commitment on delivering a superior guest experience.”

The Innisbrook suites reside in the resorts low-rise lodge buildings, which have kept their exterior design, and continue to fit into the Innisbrook’s 900 wooded acres of Florida beauty and charm. The buildings do sit below tree-top level, to offer guests some seclusion and a relaxing stay while on property.

The Par 4, 18th hole on Copperhead, the final challenge of the famed Snake Pit series of holes.

Along with the newly renovated rooms, there is plenty more to enjoy while you stay at Innisbrook, part of the Salamander chain of hotels and resorts.

Innisbrook has four golf courses. In addition to Coppherhead, is the Island Course, and the North and South Courses. All originally designed by the late Larry Packard, a long time Innisbrook resident. The resorts steakhouse is named after Packard.

The North and South courses have also seen recent renovations, that include all new greens. In addition to golf, there are four restaurants, three bars, the Innisbrook Golf School and Institute, 11 tennis courts, the Salamander Spa, six heated pools, a nature preserve, and three conference halls for meetings and special events.

Do remember that the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour, will be held from March 16-22. So plan your visit accordingly.

If your ready for a break from the cold winter season up north, why not get away to warm and sunny Florida. Where you can enjoy a stay and play at Innisbrook. For more information on one of Florida’s top golf properties and destinations. Please call the resort at (727)-942-2000 or see Innisbrookgolfresort.com.

20 COURSES TO PLAY-HOPEFULLY-IN 2020

THE VALLEY LODGE at the French Lick Resort and the WEST BADEN dome hotel. A perfect New Years Eve destination. Try the suites in the Valley Lodge at the French Lick Resort, attached to the casino and sports book, perfect for groups. #betthegames For more information visit Frenchlick.com and don’t forget to sign up for 2020 golf tee times. ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG-by RORY SPEARS Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy, and on Facebook or Linkedin. At the Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort.

ON A DAY, where snow flurries were starting to fall, and the warm temperatures we have had, dropped back into the 20’s. It was time to think about golf that needs to be played, in the 20’s, 2020 that is.

It’s not about making some sort of an all-time bucket list, just places you would like to play next year for one reason or another. Is there a course you have been itching to get to, but haven’t found the time to play there. Did you play bad somewhere, and you really need a mulligan.

Is one of your favorite courses reopening from renovation, is one of them closing down in 2020, and you just have to play there before it closes.

Did you shoot your best round ever at a course, and you want to go back and break that low scoring record one-more time. Well after some thought, there are 20 courses I want to play in 2020. Here is my list, and I am hoping to hit them all.

20. Erin Hills in Erin Wis.Yes-but Erin Hills new Drumlin putting course has peaked my interest, putting courses are fun, and this new venture at Erin Hills looks to be just that and worth a two-hour drive to get there.

The new Drumlin putting course at Erin Hills. 63,000 square feet of putting green.

19.The Sheep Ranch at Bandon Dunes, Bandon Or.. I have been on the land, but never have hit a shot on it. It wasn’t hard to realize that good golf holes could be built right there.

Finally now there are good golf holes there, courtesy of Mike Keiser, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.

The Sheep Ranch Opens on June 1st, and is being promoted as the last new course at Bandon Dunes. It already sounds as if it’s a must play, right on the Pacific Ocean.

The 2nd hole on new Pfau Course at Indiana University, renovation work by Steve Smyers

18. Pinehurst No.5, Pinehurst NC., Pinehurst 5 might not be another Donald Ross U.S. Open Course, but when you look at the fact Pinehurst has 10 golf courses, 1-9 and the par three Cradle Course, and you have played 1-4,- 6-9 and the Cradle. The only course missing is #5. In baseball when you hit a home run, they say “touch’em all”. I can do that with a round of golf on Course No.5 at Pinehurst, and that alone would make it “special”, to touch all 10 of the Pinehurst Resorts great golf courses.

17. PFAU Course at Indiana University, Bloomington Ind., our first stop in Indiana is the new home course for the Hoosiers of Indiana. The long overdue renovation is done, and architect Steve Smyers has built a winner. It will be open this spring, and I can’t wait to play here. So will Indiana’s golf teams and new recruits. A great stop off on the way to the French Lick Resort.

Gamble Sands 6th hole, Washington State.

16. Gamble Sands, Brewster Washington. This David Kidd design put him back on the map, and it caught the eye of Mike Keiser, who then called Kidd, and told him he could build the second course at Sand Valley in Wis., the classic Mammoth Dunes layout. A must play.

I haven’t played golf in Washington State since October of 2012, where I got soaked at Chambers Bay, and tee’d off in 51 degree weather at one of the most scenic casino courses, Sallish Cliffs. Kidd is getting the second course ready at Gamble Sands, that is worth a look as well, even if it’s not quite open.

15. Suncadia Resort- Cle Elum, Washington. Former Illinois PGA professional Mike Jones is running the golf operation here, and he has invited me out for a look. Jones past stops include places like Cantigny, Kapalua, and Nemacolin, so I’m sure his current location ranks as a great place for golf. Two 18 hole golf courses, I think I need to play both of them.

Crooked Stick and the covered bridge.

14. Crooked Stick Golf Club, Carmel Ind., “The Stick” as I like to call the club is some really neat golf. It’s another one of Pete Dye’s really creative golf courses and it has some cool touches to it. Like the covered bridge, the train car you drive or walk through. Plus the statue of Pete and the late Alice Dye. Pete left a place for golfers to make suggestions about the course, it’s a mailbox in the middle of pond on the 18th hole. Just slice one about 30 yards right of the fairway, and your there. If you hook it 30 yards left of the fairway on 18, your in the backyard of Pete’s house. The Western Golf Association (WGA) will hold the Western Amateur there this summer, it’s worth the drive from Chicago to go see the amateur there. It’s also the last place I spoke with Pete, whose health was already declining, I’m glad I saw him when I did.

The front nine at the new Payne’s Valley at Big Cedar Resort

13.Payne’s Valley-Big Cedar Resort, Ridgedale Missouri. The new Tiger Woods designed course for Big Cedar Resort owner Johnny Morris looks like a winner. It’s a tribute to the late Payne Stewart, who grew up not far away. I’m not Tiger’s biggest fan, but he did a stellar job here with this golf course. It has several great holes, including an 18th and 19th holes cut out of hillside rock cropping’s. Really good. All 18 holes will be open at some point in the summer, I hope to be there when they do.

12. Olympia Fields Country Club-North Course, Olympia Fields Illinois. Olympia Fields North is a great Top 100 track and it will host the BMW Championship this August. I’m looking forward to seeing it before the pro’s do. Some of them will be back for the first time since the 2003 U.S. Open. 2015 U.S. Amateur Champion at Olympia Fields Bryson DeChambeau, has to be pumped to have a PGA Tour event on OFCC-North.

The waterfall on Slick Rock, one of the four courses at the Horseshoe Bay Resort in Austin Texas.

11. Summit Rock-Horseshoe Bay Resort, Austin Texas. It’s been over 10 years since I last visited Horseshoe Bay Resort. I played the three courses that HSBR had open at the time, Apple Rock, Ram Rock, and Slick Rock on a 97 degree day. But Summit Rock by Jack Nicklaus was just under construction, and a year plus away from opening. I walked through a few of the dirt piles to check out what Jack and his team were doing. I knew I had to comeback when it was done, it’s well past my time to return.

The par 3, 17th hole on Copperhead at Innisbrook resort in Florida, just north of Tampa.

10.Copperhead Innisbrook Resort, Tarpon Springs Florida. Home of the PGA Tour’s Valspar Classic on the Florida Swing. The tour pro’s love Copperhead, and you will too since it’s a PGA Tour course you can play. I haven’t played Copperhead since 2017, and it was just settling in from renovation with some area’s still roped off. Now Copperhead is in mid-season form, and the Snake Pit is a fun challenge coming down the stretch on the back-nine.

9.Sea Island-St. Simons Island Georgia. Sea Island has three outstanding courses, so I’m told, including one of them recently renovated by resident Davis Love III and his team. I’ve never been there, it’s one of the best resorts in America I haven’t been to, that changes in 2020.

The first hole on the Tournament Nine is growing in at the Schaumburg Golf Club.

8. Schaumburg Golf Club-Schaumburg Illinois. The Tournament Nine should reopen from renovation at some point in July, combined with the other two nines, the Players Nine and the Baer Nine. This 27 hole facility will become one of the best public layouts in the Chicago area. After playing Todd Quitno’s redesign of the Players and the Baer this fall, I can’t wait for the Tournament Nine to open. Chicago area golfers will enjoy Schaumburg Golf Club, and it’s redone practice areas as well.

7. The River Course at Blackwolf Run, Kohler Wisconsin. I haven’t played the River Course in over 10 years, and I’m overdue for a round here. Pete Dye told me once, that the par 4, tenth hole, is the best par 4 he ever designed. Because of the four options golfers have to play this hole. Named “Cathedral Spires” this hole shows the creativity Dye always had in his design work.

TPC Colorado designed by Art Schaupeter.

6. TPC Colorado, Berthoud Colorado. Architect Art Schaupeter (Highlands of Elgin) shines again with his design of TPC Colorado, already one of the favorite stops of players on the Korn Ferry Tour. I have never played golf in Colorado, and in 2020 that needs to change.

5.The Great Waters Course at Reynolds-Lake Oconee Georgia. Last January I walked the dirt piles on Great Waters with GM Mike Scully, as Jack Nicklaus and his team were renovating the golf course. The project is now complete and the course is open for play. Scully has quite a property in Georgia, and Reynolds Lake Oconee is getting better all the time. I’m ready to go back for another visit, you too should plan a visit to Lake Oconee.

The morning fog rises from the valley by the Pete Dye course at the French Lick Resort.

4. The Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort, French Lick Indiana. Our third stop in Indiana is in French Lick. It’s been a few years since I last played the Dye Course. In my most recent rounds on the Dye Course over the decade, I’ve always brought some of Chicago’s windy and chilly weather with me. So I’m determined to play the course when the sun is out, and the temperature is at least 70. The Dye Course has some of the best views (40 miles worth from a few holes some say) you will find on a Midwest golf course. The Sr. LPGA Championship moves to July so plan accordingly when you visit. At first, Dye wondered if he could build the course on the hilltops where he did, but he got it done and you will be glad he did. Volcano bunkers and all.

3. Whistling Straits-Haven Wisconsin. Dye’s Straits Course along Lake Michigan will host the 2020 Ryder Cup in September. Go there before the pro’s do in September (sounds like a plan). Besides some of the worlds best players might be out there this summer practicing. So who knows who you might run into if your out golfing on the Straits. If your attending the matches this fall, enjoy watching how the pro’s hit shots from where you did during your round. Maybe you will have hit a better one, especially if it’s a recovery shot.

The 18th hole at Whistling Straits, home of the 2020 Ryder Cup.

2. Merion GC Ardmore PA. The course one of America’s Top 100, normally in the top 10 on most lists, has reopened after famed architect Gil Hanse did a historical restoration of the golf course. Merion is a special place, with a great history. If you ever get the chance to play there, don’t pass it up. I love the Wicker Baskets on the flag sticks instead of flags, it’s really a neat look.

1. Pine Valley, Pine Valley New Jersey. It’s been rated the No.1 golf course in America for many years, by multiple publications. The holes look incredible, if you see them online from the drone footage that was shot not long ago. It’s amazing how many courses today, have had some sort of inspiration from something the architect saw at Pine Valley. Like Merion, if you ever get the chance to play here, don’t pass it up. Pine Valley is pretty special and No.1 for good reason.

15 of the courses on my list are open to the public, just five are private. A few might require a stay at the resort, but you can play them. Courses hosting top level professional or amateur championships can get shut down as it gets closer to tournament week.

I have a few more courses I would like to play in 2020, but the above list is a start. I hope to see you on the course in 2020, get out and play. Make your list and try to knock-off as many courses as possible. Happy New Year from all of us at Golfers on Golf, Ed Stevenson, Bill Berger, and Rory Spears. We are back on Jan. 2, 2020.

THE GOG BLOG SPEAKS OUT-2019 AND THE DECADE ENDS

  THE NEW VALLEY TOWER at the French Lick Resort, complete with the Valley Bar and Sports Book. How about New Years Eve in French Lick, See more Frenchlick.com   _____________________________________________________________________

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

SO HERE WE ARE at years end, and now ready to move into the 20’s. This will be the last Speaks Out column of the year, with tomorrow being my want list for the 20 courses I want to play in 2020. With a day off on New Years day. I’ll be back on Jan. 2nd, of 2020.

REMINDER, today is the last day for the 40% off all-apparel sale at the Schaumburg Golf Club, and don’t forget their simulators are open. Call ahead, at (847)-885-9000, they do get busy.

SOME OTHER NEWS to round out the year, on the “For Sale” front. A couple months back Klein Creek in Winfield was sold to a new owner. Two golf courses where I got my roots in the working world of golf for 11 years, the Rob Roy Golf Club in Prospect Heights, and what’s now called “The Tradition’s at Chevy Chase” in Wheeling, are both under the same management. The Wheeling Park District has entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the River Trails Park District to run Rob Roy’s golf and food and beverage operation. I’m hoping that this is a win-win for everyone involved.

NOW COME’S WORD that the Flossmoor Country Club has been sold. The new owner or new owner’s might be planning 7 figures worth of improvements on the golf course. If they do make improvements, there is no word yet if architect Ray Hearn will be involved. The Holland Michigan based architect did the renovation work at the club about 11 years ago. Word is that the clubhouse could be partially or totally demolished, and the swimming pool will be gone as well.

WHITE PINES in Bensenville does not have a golf dome for the first time in almost 30 years. But word is that the word has not really got around to golfers. Apparently plenty of golfers have pulled into the White Pines parking lot this winter looking for the dome, only to learn the sad news after arriving. Rumors persist that there will be a dome next there next year. Time will tell. In the meantime, when looking for a dome enjoy the best one in town, The Mistwood golf Dome in Bolingbrook.

IN JUST THREE WEEKS the PGA Merchandise Show will tee off in Orlando, I can’t week for the fun to start.

It’s hard to say how many outdoor days of golf are left this year and into the New Year, after many courses were open in the last week. St. Andrews in West Chicago had about 700 golfers, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and on the 26th. Word is Cog Hill with Courses 1, 2, and 3 open had plenty of business as well. Pine Meadow was crowded this week, somewhere the late Joe Jemsek is looking down and smiling at what Jemsek Golf did this past week with six courses pulling in the holiday golfers. So much for that theory some wish for you to believe that people don’t play golf anymore. That theory gets proven wrong, day after day.

2019 gave me plenty to write about, and I’m sure 2020 will give me even more. The BMW is back in town at Olympia Fields, along with the Big Ten Men’s Championships at Rich Harvest Farms. The Ryder Cup is not far away in Haven/Kohler Wisconsin at Whistling Straits. The French Lick Resort has the Sr. LPGA Championship back, but the new dates are in July. The same week in Indiana, will be the Western Amateur at Crooked Stick near Indianapolis. The date change for the Sr. LPGA Championship will be great for French Lick and senior women players.

I MADE A MAJOR equipment change this past year, and I’m still getting used to everything, but after getting fitted, and getting the numbers in check, I have dropped the handicap back into single-digits for the first time in years. That leaves me excited about playing more golf in 2020. I have now played almost 530 different courses over the years, and I’m hoping to to get that number up to over 550 by the end of next year.

27 holes of outdoor golf in December, in Chicago was a great way to close out the year. I’ll share some thoughts about 2020 tomorrow to close out the year. If you missed them I wrote about my 19 favorite rounds of 2019, and the top courses I played over the decade. It’s been fun.

TO EVERYONE who reads along,  and enjoys the golf news all year round here at Golfers on Golf, I say thank you. Keep reading and spread the word about Golfersongolf.com. Back with a final wrap up tomorrow. RS.

THE SUNDAY MORNING SHORT GAME-LATE EDITION

THE SCHAUMBURG GOLF CLUB at 401 N. Roselle Road is open today for the golf and hockey special, during the Blackhawks game that starts at 4 pm vs Columbus, and after the Bears season ends at Minnesota. Call the pro shop for details on today’s special at (847)-885-9000, the 40% off all-apparel sale ends tomorrow December 30th.   _____________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by RORY SPEARS, Director of Content and Creation. Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy and on LinkedIn or Facebook. At Pine Meadow GC in Mundelein.

IT’s BEEN quite a Christmas week, with great weather and golf courses open around the area.

For those who were, they got a late in the year present, of some additional revenue. Some places did pretty well.

As for today, some courses are open, maybe a little wet after last night, but yet open on this 50+ degree day, at least for the moment. Call your local pro shop, and find out if your club is open.

Hockey Night in Schaumburg starts this afternoon at 4 PM. At the Schaumburg Golf Club, simulator time and watch the Blackhawks in action in Columbus. Call the pro shop at (847)-885-9000.

CALLAWAY GOLF has new outerwear called Stormguard. Plus the new driver called Mavrik will be launched next month at the PGA show, stay tuned.

There are various resort destination properties running specials through New Years Eve, check online if you are looking to travel. Eagle Ridge resort in Galena, is having a New Years Eve special, see Eagleridge.com or call the resort if you want to get have some fun on New Years Eve this Tuesday.

The Gog Blog returns tomorrow. RS

THE TEN BEST COURSES PLAYED IN THE 2010’S

  THE SCHAUMBURG GOLF CLUB 401 N. Roselle Road has a 40% off all-apparel sale through Monday Dec. 30th, and it’s simulators are open daily 9 Am to 8 Pm. This Sunday night, there is a hockey-golf night this Sunday, with the Blackhawks-Columbus game starting at 4 Pm. Call the pro shop for details at (847)-885-9000, or visit online at Schaumburggolf.com and learn about the course renovation work. (R) PINE MEADOW in Mundelein will be open all weekend, call the pro shop for tee times (847)-566-4653.    ______________________________________________________________________

THE GOG BLOG by Rory Spears, Director of Content and Creation, follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy and on LinkedIn and Facebook. At Shinnecock Hills on Long Island NY.

THE TEN’S ARE PASSING US BY, and in a few days they will be gone. The 20’s are coming, will they be the next version of the “Roaring 20’s” like they were a 100 years ago.

Before the 20’s arrive, I’m going to take this moment to remember the “Best of” the “Tens or the Teens”.

What were the Best 10 Courses I played in the last 10 years, there are so many that could make the list. My list of courses played over the last 10 years has grown from 275+, to almost 530.

But what were the Best 10 courses, or experiences in the last decade. Actually there were plenty, and many more than 10 could have made the list.

THE HONORABLE MENTION 10 include the following.The Pete Dye Course at the French Lick Resort, French Lick Ind., Wissahickon at the Philadelphia Cricket Club PA.,  Erin Hills WI., Bandon Dunes OR.,Copperhead at Innisbrook FL., The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island., Streamsong-courses FL.,Bay Harbor MI.,Medinah 3 IL., Pine Tree FL.

THE TEN-starting with a tie for 10th place.

  (L) The Club at Porto Cima part of the Four Seasons resort in Lake in the Ozarks MO., this Jack Nicklaus design never receives the credit it deserves. It should be hosting a major at some level. It’s powerful rolling hills and scenic views make this a great track and it’s one everyone can and should play. (R) Calusa Pines Naples FL., this Hurdzan and Fry design might be the best course in Florida, with a tip of the cap to several other courses, and I have not yet played Seminole. I had one of the best caddies I have ever had at Calusa Pines, and played here on a Saturday afternoon in January, while it was 25 degrees in Chicago. Several tour pro’s have memberships here, and it’s not hard to see why. The course is private.

NINE-Mammoth Dunes at Sand Valley Resort, Nakoosa Wi.

  Mammoth Dunes is public and part of the Sand Valley Resort, built by Mike Keiser. Keiser brought in David Kidd to do the second course, after seeing Kidd’s work at Gamble Sands in Washington. While there is no ocean in Wisconsin, like at Bandon Dunes where Kidd designed Bandon Dunes for Keiser, Kidd hit another home run for Keiser when he designed Mammoth Dunes, that has a small touch of the blind shot mixed in on several holes. Golfers love it, I loved it, you will too. Go Play it, everyone can.

EIGHT-Friar’s Head-Long Island NY.

 Friars Head is a Coore and Crenshaw design on Long Island that is one of the best courses in area, much less all of America. It’s a great walk with a great variety of holes. It’s too bad the club is private, because if you love the game of golf, this one place you should get to enjoy once. Even the walk between 15 and 16 takes you out through the trees and down a walk-way over water, and back through the trees and onto the golf course. Pretty special.

SEVEN-Bethpage Black-Long Island NY.

  You are warned in advance about playing here, just don’t if you don’t have some game. But you can play here in Bethpage State Park if you want to, but there are other courses to pick from. It’s not the easiest walk, and caddies are an option, a good one at that. Two U.S. Opens have been played here, one PGA Championship was in this current year, and the Ryder Cup rolls in come 2024. Go play if your ready for a solid challenge of your golf skills.

SIX-Old Macdonald-Bandon Dunes Resort, Bandon OR.

Old Macdonald is a tribute to Chicago Golf and other courses by C.B. Macdonald at Bandon Dunes. It’s great course to enjoy with your friends. Owner Mike Keiser thinks it’s the most fun course at his Bandon Dunes Resort in Oregon. He is correct. I played all 5 courses there at the time, and saved the best for last, Old Mac. Go play it, and while there starting in June 2020, try out the new Sheep Ranch by Coore and Crenshaw.

FIVE-Whistling Straits-Haven/Kohler WI. Part of the American Club Resort.

   STEVE STRICKER and PADRAIG HARRINGTON will fight over the Ryder Cup in September of 2020, before then you can play Whistling Straits, and take a caddie for a great walk down the shores of Lake Michigan. Some say it’s Pete Dye’s best work, and those people might just be right.

FOUR-Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton IL.

  Chicago Golf is another one of those special places I wish each golfer could enjoy at least once. History just hangs over this little club, and in 2018 the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open was played here. When you walk these fairways you can’t help but enjoy golf as it was meant to be played a hundred years ago. In the case of Chicago Golf, that number is over 125 years.

THREE-Pinehurst #2, Pinehurst NC. part of the Pinehurst Resort.

Pinehurst 2 is one of the great historic courses in America, Donald Ross maybe the best architect in American golf history designed #2. Some say it’s his masterpiece, and his house is just off the 3rd hole. U.S. Open’s and U.S. Amateurs get played here for a reason. Some folks who don’t have the game or the patience aren’t fans of the greens, but they are one of the great challenges in golf. It’s a U.S. Open course you can play. The walk with a caddie is one of the best in golf. The Coore & Crenshaw renovation was a good one. Pinehurst 2, just for you. Go Play history, and where history is made.

TWO-Shinnecock Hills, Long Island NY.

Shinnecock Hills is ranked one of the Top 10 courses in the country every year. It’s another one of those great walks, every golfer should have the chance to take at least once. Like Pinehurst #2, U.S. Opens get played here on the William Flynn design for a reason, this course is just that good. The clubhouse is really special, with history down the walls every where. More history will be made in 2026, when the U.S. Open returns.

ONE-Merion Golf Club, Ardmore PA.

Merion is my favorite golf course, everything about it is really neat. From the drive in past the short par 3 13th hole, to the Red and Orange wicker-baskets that serve as flag sticks. History is made here, and the U.S. Open was back again in 2013. Ben Hogan won his miracle U.S. Open here after surviving getting hit head-on in his car by a Greyhound Bus. Club historian John Capers runs the best history room you will ever find at any club, that’s filled with amazing artifacts from the clubs history. I’ve played this course twice, and now Gil Hanse has done restoration work since my last visit. I need to go back in the 2020’s. Merion, where Bobby Jones won the only “Grand Slam” in golf history, closed it out here at Merion. With that I closed out my list.

Now I wonder if I can come up with a better list for the next decade. This one will be tough to beat. Stay clicked in for 20 courses on my hit list for 2020. RS