It Ziehms to Me: Changes are coming in Chicago club pro ranks

There wasn’t much movement in Chicago’s club professional ranks the past few years, but that’s not the case now. Already five well-established head pros have announced plans to move on.

The move creating the most ripple effect was Mike Scully’s departure from Medinah immediate after the Ryder Cup.  He is now in charge at Desert Mountain, a Scottsdale, Ariz., resort that has five courses.

Scully was also the vice president of the Illinois PGA, so his leaving the area after nearly 10 years created some adjustment in the section’s rotation of officers.  Chris Gumbach became the IPGA’s 25th president at the Fall Annual Meeting. Gumbach, a member of the board of directors from 2007-12, succeeds Casey Brozek, who will continue on the board as honorary president. Continue reading

It Ziehms to Me: New bunkers have change the look of Kemper Lakes

Kemper Lakes Bunker Project

Illinois PGA will have a different challenge if the section decides to keep its first major tourney of 2013 at Kemper Lakes.

The club, which hosted the 1989 PGA Championship, the 1992 U.S. Women’s Amateur and several Champions Tour stops before it became a private venue in 2009, has begun a renovation project.

Taking small steps at first, the club approved Libertyville architect Rick Jacobson’s plans to radically change the bunkering.  The original course had 199,000 square feet of bunkers.  When Jacobson’s work is done it’ll have 112,000. But the number of bunkers will probably increase from the present 63. Continue reading

It Ziehms to Me – Ryder Cup, Teaching, Western Golf Assn and more

by Len Ziehm

THE RECENT RYDER CUP may have seemed a downer after the collapse of the U.S. team in the Sunday matches, but – while being on site at Medinah every day – I found an uplifting story behind the scenes — the reunion of the Sweeney brothers.

Frank and Mary Sweeney, their parents, moved to a residence on Sunset Terrace – about 600 yards from the Medinah clubhouse – in 1962 and raised six children there. Their four boys – Frank, Phil, Pat and Brendan – were all Medinah caddies, and the Ryder Cup marked the first time they were all together since 2007. Their father passed away in March and their mother lives in Venice, FL. Continue reading

MY GOLFVISIONS RECORD: 16 courses in four states

CHESTERTON, Ind. – Tim Miles  Sr. tells me I’ve made golf history. He says I’m the first member of GolfVisions’ Player Pass program to play all of the 16  courses offered in this most innovative program, and I’ll tell you it wasn’t easy.

Miles,  the GolfVisions president, started the Player Pass program two years ago and tweaked it for this season. GolfVisions is a course management firm that Miles founded under the name GreenVisions in 1989.  It presently oversees 11 courses in Illinois, two in Indiana, one in Michigan and two in Florida.

Under the Player Pass program, you pay an annual fee to join, then get one free greens fee at each course plus other perks – the lowest fee the course offers for your playing partners, free range balls and discounts on meals and pro shop merchandise. Continue reading

Quad Cities should be considered a golf destination spot

By Len Ziehm

MOLINE, IL. – For years now I’ve told my golf-media buddies from the Quad Cities that they reside in “the golf capitol of Illinois.’’

They think I’m kidding but, after four decades of covering the PGA Tour stop in that community, I’m not so sure. In fact, I can now say that the area encompassing Moline and Rock Island in Illinois and Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa could be a golf destination – and I’m NOT kidding.

Golf in the Quad Cites is relatively inexpensive. That’s a big plus.  Nothing is very far away, either. More than anything, though, I like the diversity of the area’s golf options.

You can play a PGA Tour site. TPC Deere Run has been the home of the John Deere Classic since 2000.  Golf’s premier circuit has come to the Quad Cities every year since 1971, a clear indication the PGA Tour respects the passion in one of its smallest markets.

TPC Deere Run, a D.A. Weibring design, is plenty challenging but hardly the brutal test that some of the other tour layouts are.  A serious recreational play can have a good time at Deere Run without feeling beat up afterwards.

OK, so there’s a tour course. What else?

If you want tradition there’s the Rock Island Arsenal military facility, which has a sporty layout – now called Arsenal Island — that dates back to 1897. Through 2011 it was a private club. Now the public can play this interesting 6,254-yard layout, which borders on the Mississippi River.

If you want upscale public without paying much for it there’s Glynns Creek, in Long Grove on the Iowa side of the Mississippi, and Byron Hills, in Port Byron on the Illinois side.  Glynns Creek is excellent, the site of an American Junior Golf Association event in 2012. Byron Hills is noted for its greens, which some say are the best in the Quad Cities.

A key here is price. Two of us played both Glynns Creek and Byron Hills on a weekday with cart for $56 – that’s total, not per person.

Those are the most notable public offerings. If you’re fortunate enough to get a round on one of the area’s private clubs there’s three of them – Crow Valley, in Davenport; Davenport Country Club, also in Iowa; and Oakwood, in Coal Valley, IL. – which have been sites of PGA Tour events in the past.

There’s more to a golf getaway than the courses you can play.  You have to have lodging, and the Quad Cities has most all of the chain hotels and motels. But, if you want someplace special there’s Hotel Blackhawk in Davenport. It dates back to 1915 and was renovated in 2009. Charming is the best way to describe it.

You also have to eat, and we found some good ones. The well-established Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse, in the heart of the Moline business district, is my favorite. It’s fairly-priced, with good food and pleasant atmosphere.

Duck City, located near the Blackhawk, seems to be the in hot-spot, but it’s not very big and difficult to get a table many times. Granite City Food & Brewery has one of its locations in Davenport and is much bigger with a varied menu, good food and a energizing atmosphere.

For a getaway from your golf getaway there’s Faithful Pilot, Cafe in LeClaire, Ia.  This is a most interesting waterfront place in a quaint little town with shops offering all sorts of antiques.

If you don’t mind spending big-time, there’s the Red Crow Grille in Bettendorf.  I don’t have this place figured out completely.  It has a disarming location in a small shopping mall  and an exotic menu. Our dinner there was a pleasant one, even after the check arrived.

Biggest bargain on the culinary side was at Ryan’s, on John Deere Road in Moline. You may not be aware of it – we weren’t, either – but Ryan’s is no longer a chain of steak places. This chain is now specializing in buffet spreads and the two of us had a dazzling Sunday breakfast there for $16 – again that’s the total for both of us.

The problem with going to the Quad Cities for the expressed purpose of playing golf is that there aren’t golf packages.  You have to book your tee times, lodging and meal reservations separately. Cost-wise, though, we found it well worth it.