THE GOG BLOG LOOKS BACK AT 2015

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DSC04897 Rory and Havemeyer 2 DS

The Gog Blog Chicago’s #1 Online Golf News Source by Rory Spears, Editor and Director of Content. Follow Rory on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter @GogBlogGuy. With the US Amateur trophy the Havemeyer at Olympia Fields Country Club.

As we say good-bye to 2015, it’s time to take a look back at the year in golf that it was. A good year at that, especially here in Chicago, where continues to keep rolling in right direction.

In recapping the year in my eyes, it started for me like it did for everyone back in January.

If I wasn’t in the dome, I was getting ready to depart for the PGA show in January. For the second straight year my first of golf was played at the Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta Georgia. Kinderlou is a solid course, and one I recommend golfers try if you are in Southern Georgia, you can go wrong. It’s a Davis Love III and Bob Spence design, the villa’s on the course are fantastic as well.

The PGA merchandise show started off with the bad news that Daily Herald writer and golf guy Mike Spellman, it hit all of us from Illinois at the show. The highlight was getting fitted for a new Titleist 915 Driver, which was a good move as my season went on.

February saw our Chicago Golf shows in Tinley Park and Rosemont help launch the golf season back here in town, both show had good turnouts, and hopefully more of the same this season.

In March I discovered golf in Mississippi, around the Biloxi area and came away impressed with the courses there. It’s an area I hope to return to in the near future. If you have not been there you need to go.

The April highlight was watching Jordan Spieth win the Masters, along with the return of Golfers on Golf Radio. Our radio show had it’s longest and most successful run ever 23 weeks. All of us are hoping for a better 2016.

By May frustration was setting in on the lack of good days to play golf. If it was warm out it was raining, if it was dry and sunny the temperatures weren’t very good. But the turnout and drama was good at the French Lick Resort for the Sr.PGA Championship. Colin Montgomerie made it two in a row, and will shoot for the hat trick per-say back at Harbor Shores in 2016.

In June tournament time had arrived in town, seeing Arnold Palmer at Rich Harvest Farms for the Palmer Cup was great, and so was watching the USA take the cup back from Europe. Jordan Spieth won a another major the U.S. Open and the Grand Slam watch was on.

In July Spieth gave golf fans an exciting month by winning the John Deere Classic, and almost winning the British Open. At least Zach Johnson did win it, and the Claret Jug was headed for Iowa and eventually a stop at Wrigley Field. Locally the Illinois Open settled in at it’s new home where some record low scores were shot at Royal Melbourne. Then a 15 year-old won the Illinois Women’s Open at Mistwood.

Jerry Smith won the final Encompass championship in town at the North Shore Country Club, sadly the tournament ended it’s run here as the tournaments normal June dates were given to a new Champions Tour tournament in Madison Wisconsin hosted by Steve Stricker.

July also saw the closing of Arlington Lake GC for the summer to start a renovation by Mike Benkusky, and Oak Meadows finally closed to start the long awaited for renovation by Greg Martin. Glenview Golf Club reopened from a Rick Jacobson renovation. On July 30th Mt. Prospect welcomed the golf media to reopen the course from a David Esler renovation.

August saw one of the most exciting finishes ever at the Western Amateur held at Rich Harvest Farms, when Dawson Armstrong holed a bunker shot to win on the second hole of a playoff. The following week saw Jason Day blow away the field at Whistling Straits in Haven/Kohler to win the PGA Championship.

Bryson Dechambeau then came to Olympia Fields to win the U.S. Amateur in the first amateur played in the Chicago area in 18 years, and the last USGA event scheduled in town for an unknown period of time.

Carrie Williams took over the Illinois PGA as Executive Director, replacing Michael Miller who departed to Arizona after 26 years in Illinois.

In September the BMW Championship returned to Conway Farms and Jason Day was still on fire from his PGA win, as he blew away the field in Lake Forest.

In October as the fall golf season went on, the Illinois Men’s Golf Team was winning tournaments, as they started another push for a national championship that they came so close to winning back in May in Florida.

October saw the Illinois Golf Hall of Fame welcome H.Chandler Egan, Jim Sobb, Leon McNair as it’s Class of 2015.

I enjoyed a golf trip to Pinehurst in North Carolina. Pinehurst the home of American Golf is an outstanding place to visit and play. If you have never been there, you need to make sure you do it at least once. Pinehurst.com for more details.

November had warm weather as the fall golf season extended beyond the norm. During the month the LPGA and Rich Harvest Farms made it official they had split, and the 2016 International Crown went looking for a new Chicago area home.

December still had golfers flocking to the courses with temperatures above normal and no snow on the ground. At Mistwood the new clubhouse was finally done, and owner Jim McWethy and staff were welcoming guests to McWethy’s Tavern that is expected to be a hot spot going forward from when the course reopens in April.

The Rust-Oleum Classic a Web.com Tour tournament, was announced for June of 2016 at the Ivanhoe Club.

2015 certainly was a year that gave us a lot of tournaments, we won’t have as many around town in 2016 to watch, hopefully it does give all of us more time to go enjoy the game and get on the tee ourselves.

The Gog Blog looks ahead at 2016, this Saturday January 2nd.

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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.