Here and There: Harbour Town’s course has re-opened

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm With the golf season in the Midwest winding down, it’s a good time to check out what’s been happening at golf’s best travel destinations – and there’s been plenty. Our first golf/travel notebook of the fall begins at one of America’s most famous courses. The famed Harbour Town course at Sea Pines Resort in Hilton Head, S.C., re-opened this week after undergoing major renovation work that included the installation of a new irrigation system. Harbour Town, a joint design effort by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus, closed in May after last year’s PGA Tour stop, the RBC Heritage Classic. All the greens were also resurfaced while the course was closed. (more…)

This golfer is not only good — he’s fast, too!

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm Eri Crum arrived at Stanford University in 1994, the same year that Tiger Woods did. They were teammates on the school’s golf team for two years, before Woods started his legendary career as a touring pro. Crum stayed at Stanford, earning his letter in golf his final two seasons, and now he’s still involved in his sport as a professional. His role is a bit different than Woods’, however. Crum has discovered Speedgolf, and he’ll defend his title in the Speedgolf World Championship at The Glen Club in Glenview on Oct. 19-20. In Speedgolf you’re judged on both your score and pace around the course. (more…)

No “Gimme’s” Here…Windy City Amateur Tours Offer Competitive Golf for All Skill Levels

By Jim Zuccarelli GWAT, WCGT, NIMAGA, GCAM, and NAGT is an alphabet soup of acronyms that may not be recognizable to the average Windy City golfer, unless they are a member of one of the amateur golf tours that operate in the metro Chicago area. Some are affiliated with nationwide organizations that feed into national championships, while others are locally independent, but all exist to provide an outlet for local golfers to compete in tournaments guided by the USGA rule book. “I played competitive 12-inch softball into my early 50’s, and when I couldn’t play anymore due to injuries, the amateur golf tournaments provided an outlet for me to fill the competitive void,” shared Bill Stuhr of Carpentersville at the Golf Week Amateur Tour event at Harborside in May. Round Lake Beach resident Rob Davis drove 70 miles to the south side of Chicago and offered a different spin. “My friends like to stay close to home and don’t like to play the more expensive courses, so this is a chance for me to play the better courses in the area.” GolfWeek Amateur Tour Chicago (more…)

Erin Hills update: 2017 U.S. Open site keeps getting better

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Zeihm ERIN, Wis. - Erin Hills has gotten nothing but better since its opening in 2006. That was clearly evident when the facility on the outskirts of Milwaukee conducted what has become an annual outing leading into its ultimate showing - as the site of the 2017 U.S. Open. Jim Reinhart, general chairman for the big event, was presented with a good opportunity to compare Erin Hills with a similar facility. Chambers Bay, in Washington, hosted a U.S. Open that wasn’t without controversy a week before Erin opened its doors to about 50 media members from around the Midwest. Reinhart tried hard to steer clearly of controversy in making comparisons. "Both courses are in new areas that had never hosted a U.S. Open," said Reinhart. "Both have incredible community support. Both areas are naturally beautiful, but Chambers Bay was manufactured on a gravel pit while Erin Hills’ architects took advantage of a more natural area. Both have fescue fairways, and both play long. Erin Hills is not a true links-style course. Chambers Bay is much more a links style. We have eight times as many trees – we have eight!" (more…)

Let’s Play Two! 36 Holes of Great, Budget Friendly Windy City Golf

By Jim Zuccarelli One of my favorite golfing pastimes is taking a day off from work in the height of the summer and playing 36 holes at two of the fine courses that populate the Windy City Golf landscape. Following are some of the best combinations of courses that won't break your budget (under $90 total green fees, including cart) and within a 30 minute drive of one another (as per Google Maps calculation). You may have to do a little advanced planning to secure the right tee times to get all the holes in before dark, but the courses listed start their discounted pm rates no later than 3 o'clock, which should allow you to finish during the majority of the summer. All the rates are as published or as online tee times on the course websites, so additional savings may be scored with coupons, internet hot deals, senior/junior discounts, etc. So leave your cares and the weekend crowds behind and tee it up at one of the following combo’s that include some of the best layouts the Windy City has to offer: (more…)

America’s Golf Capital in Michigan? Why not?

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm THOMPSONVILLE, Mich. - Crystal Mountain Resort started as a community ski area in 1956. Golf didn’t come until 1977 when one of the owners, Bob Meyer, designed the first nine holes of what is now the Benzie Valley course. That course became an 18-holer a year later, and Bill Newcomb, a well-established Midwest course designer from Indiana, started work on the Mountain Ridge course 15 years later . It was also built nine holes at a time, and the 18-hole layout opened in 1994. It’s understandable that skiing would come first at such Michigan locations. Even now, golf staffers at Crystal Mountain point out that the resort can get 4,000 skiers through in one day compared to only 400 golfers. The numbers speak for themselves. [caption id="attachment_1043" align="alignnone" width="584"]There’s no snow on the ski slopes, but Crystal Mountain’s golf operation is in full swing. There’s no snow on the ski slopes, but Crystal Mountain’s golf operation is in full swing.[/caption] (more…)

Michigan’s Homestead could be ‘Most Beautiful’ for visiting golfers

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm GLEN ARBOR, Mich. – The Homestead is located in the heart of Michigan’s best golf areas, but it’s difficult to consider it a golf destination. There’s so many more attractions there, most notably Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. In 2011 ABC’s Good Morning America labeled that area "the Most Beautiful Place in America." It’d be pretty hard for a golf destination to compete with "America’s Most Beautiful Place," wouldn’t you agree? The Homestead welcome sign doesn’t even focus on golf. Instead, it proclaims itself as "America’s Freshwater Resort." Still, there’s good reasons to link The Homestead with golf. The facility has a 19-year history with the sport, dating to the creation of a nine-hole 1,200-yard par-3 course called Mountain Flowers. Bob Kuras, The Homestead’s owners, was one of its designers. (more…)

Next Tom Doak course is unique; it’ll play in two directions

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm ROSCOMMON, Mich. – The idea is at least intriguing. Tom Doak has designed a golf course that will have 18 greens and fairways but will play in two directions. The No. 18 green will always be the No. 18 green, but one day you play around to that green from a clock-wise direction, and the next day you do it in a counter-clockwise direction. Michigan’s respected Forest Dunes will get two new courses while building only one. Think about that — and a lot of people have. (more…)

Medinah will restore – not renovate – this Bendelow course

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm For reasons that have long escaped me, Tom Bendelow is still not in the World Golf Hall of Fame. He was the course architect that, perhaps more than any other, got golf started in the United States. That’s especially evident in the Chicago area. Bendelow’s name has been on about 800 courses that were built from, roughly, 1895 to 1930. Most that have survived have been radically altered, among them Medinah’s famous No. 3 course that has hosted three U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships and the 2012 Ryder Cup matches. [caption id="attachment_1018" align="alignright" width="300"]Superintendent Curtis Tyrrell is tackling another big project at Medinah. Superintendent Curtis Tyrrell is tackling another big project at Medinah.[/caption] Bendelow was the original designer of all three courses on the Medinah property in the 1920s. The No. 1 layout was renovated last year by Michigan architect Tom Doak. More extensive work has been done on No. 3 over the years to prepare that layout for its big tournaments, and Rees Jones was the latest architect to do the work there. (more…)

Public golfers can experience a Donald Ross creation at Ravisloe

Len Ziehm on GolfBy Len Ziehm I guess you can learn something every day. I thought I knew a bit about Donald Ross, the famed golf designer, but I didn’t realize he had designed only one public course in Illinois. That course is Ravisloe in Homewood, which went public when Claude Gendreau purchased the club in 2009. Cheryl Justak, publisher of Golf Now! Chicago, and I had played Ravisloe during its 107 years as a private club (my lone round there was about 20 years ago). We were duly impressed by our long-planned return visit this week. The course was in great shape, the rough was so thick it was frequently difficult to find your ball and the greens and bunkers were both challenging and fun. The clubhouse was nice, too. All in all, a good experience. (more…)