Professional Tour Golf is Definitely in Full Swing!
by Publisher, Cheryl Justak
Wow! What a great week it was in the Chicagoland area for professional golf tournaments. Both the Encompass Championship (Part of the Champions Tour) and the Symetra Tour/Four Winds Invitational (Road to the LPGA Tour) were taking place at the same time during the week of June 17 through the 23. One taking place in Glenview, Illinois and the other in South Bend/Notre Dame, Indiana. Lots of driving and miles that week!
We started the week off on Monday, June 17 by playing in the 18th Annual Meeting Professional’s International Golf Classic and Summer Soiree at Mission Hills Country Club in Northbrook, IL. This annual event is attended by the “Who’s Who” in the Meeting & Event Planning Industry and every one of the 18 holes had a major sponsor residing for the day to entertain and challenge the golfers coming through. I had not played Mission Hills in quite a few years. It’s a great course, that’s tight and narrow and winds through an entire residential golf course community. New owners have recently purchased Mission Hills and are working hard to make improvements to the banquet facilities and the golf course. It was a great event and one we look forward to attending every year.
On Tuesday, June 18, two-time Masters Champion, Ben Crenshaw appeared at Bolingbrook Golf Club for a much-anticipated free “short game clinic” that was open to public in conjunction with their newly opened “Cleveland Golf Tour Experience”, a state-of-the art studio for custom club-fitting and club building. The event was well-attended by all ages of golfers from the local community as well as well-known media. What a wonderful opportunity to spend two hours on a beautiful sunny summer day, listening to one of golf’s greats share what he has learned over the years for successful chipping and putting .. and ultimately “saving strokes” off your golf game.
Ben Crenshaw was so gracious and personable – and, he could not say enough about how all the players on the Encompass Championship were excited to be back playing golf in Chicago. “We miss it!” stated Ben and “We love Chicagoans’ enthusiasm for the game of golf.” His tips that afternoon were so insightful, as he continued to talk about and demonstrate the shots that will save strokes off your game. He also talked about the “millions of different putting methods and swings” that are out there and that you have to find out who you are and what will work for you and your game rather than trying to putt or chip like someone else. Making a putt when you need to will lift your confidence. The golf game becomes so “mental” the closer you get to the hole. One of his comments that really hit home with me that he stated was, “A good putter is a match for everyone and a poor putter is a match for no one.” How true that is! He also spent a lot of time demonstrating what he called “very boring” and low-to-the-ground chip shots that would run right up to the hole. Keeping the ball on the ground and perfecting this type of shot using different clubs to get the ball near the hole was his secret to saving strokes. He used all types of clubs to demonstrate this shot and each time he put the ball within a foot or two of the flag. Nothing fancy, just saving strokes off your game!
Wednesday, June 19 and Thursday, June 20
The team at GOLF NOW! Chicago could not have had a better day for our annual “Concierge and Hospitality Professionals” Golf Event which was hosted this year by Lost Marsh Golf Course and The Hammond Port Authority. We coordinate this event every year as a way to get the concierge community excited about golf, learn more about the game and to give them a fun break to spend time with colleagues and friends for the day. The weather was super and we had concierges and their guests come from all industry areas to attend including hotels, residential, businesses, clubs and more!
Lost Marsh is a fabulous championship golf course near the Horseshoe Casino and their shuttle picked up a couple dozen attendees at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers and the Museum of Science and Industry to spend the day on the golf course, or learning the game through golf clinics given by Dean Gabey their Head Golf Professional. Other activities for the day included biking, hiking, kayaking, paddle boats and tours of the Marina, Wolf Lake and newly constructed Concert Pavilion … definitely a “stay-cation” for the entire family that is so near the city, but yet a great getaway. Golf was followed by a wonderful barbecue luncheon at the Hammond Marina overlooking the Harbor and the multitude of boats docked in their slips at the Yacht Club.
After our event, we jumped in our cars and headed to the Doubletree Hotel in downtown South Bend for the “Symetra Tour/Four Winds Invitational Players Party” and the preview of the Pro-Am Teams and the Players for the Symetra Tour/Four Winds Invitational event on Thursday, June 20 through Sunday, June 23 being held at Blackthorn Golf Club again for the 2nd year. At the cocktail party, we had the opportunity to meet Jackie Stoelting who was our Pro-Am Player that we were teamed up with for Thursday’s Pro-Am at Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, Indiana. Jackie is pretty new to the Symetra Tour but a great little player. She also qualified for a spot on this year’s U.S. Women’s Open … we are definitely cheering her on! She was so much fun to play with on Thursday and to watch her compete on Sunday. What a beautiful, fluid swing she has and she is also a great putter. She ended up coming in at 2 under Par for the tournament and gave it a good fight throughout the tournament. On Sunday, June 23 the day resulted in a three way playoff between Marina Alex, Cydney Clanton and Marissa Steen all tied at -8 at the end of the final round. Cydney Clanton took the trophy to win the event on Sunday, June 23. An exciting finish for sure!
Friday, June 20 through Sunday, June 23
The Celebrity/Tour Player Pro-Ams kicked off on Friday & Saturday of the Encompass Championship – part of the Champions Tour that debuted this year in Chicago’s North Shore area at the famed North Shore Country Club in Glenview, IL. A field of 81 players competed for the $1,800,000 purse with the winner taking home $270,000. During the week of June 17-23, we along with thousands of Chicago golf fans came out to cheer on some of the most recognized names in golf, including World Golf Hall of Fame members Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer and Nick Price. In addition, Ryder Cup co-captain Jeff Sluman and Chip Beck, who both live in the Chicago area, were there and competed in the tournament along with Freddy Couples, John Cook, Fred Funk, Jay Haas, Tom Lehman, Corey Pavin, Steve Elkington, Kenny Perry and fan favorite Rocco Mediate.
With golf in full swing in Chicago, we now have the BMW Championship to get excited about, which will have a new home this year at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, IL on September 9-15, 2013. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, you can visit BMWChampionshipUSA.com and enter the promo code NOWFREE when prompted to waive the $10 processing fee.
Also, if you haven’t entered our contest for a chance to win VIP tickets to the BMW Championship, visit us now at www.golfnowchicago.com ….. our random drawing for the winner of this experience will be held in August.