By Ed Sherman
I was driving by a public golf course in my area the other day. Lo and behold, what did I see? Golfers.
On the holes I could view from my car, there was a threesome putting on No. 8 and another twosome getting ready to drive on the ninth. The players appeared to be clad in layers as they say, and a couple of them, not all, were sporting caps.
It was one of those rare bright days in February in Chicago. The sight of those players treading on the dull brown grass made me wonder if I was missing out on an opportunity for some winter golf. Sort of like stealing, right?
Perhaps it was warmer than I thought. Then I looked at the temperature setting in my car: 38 degrees. Thanks, but still too cold for my thin blood.
Yet the scene for me underscored the passion for golf in Chicago. Those hearty souls I saw on the course may be a bit more passionate than most, but no mistake, this game is a year-round addiction, whether we’re playing or not.
Global Golf Post now is set to enhance that passion. Today marks the first installment of specialized coverage of Illinois golf. Along with being able to read about Tiger and Phil in this digital publication, members of the Chicago District Golf Association will get weekly reports focused on the game in your backyard.
I am teaming with long-time golf writer Tim Cronin. Together, we will provide detailed accounts of the big local tournaments and profiles of the area’s top players and key leaders in the golf industry. As many of you already know, Tim, the author of books on the Western Golf Association, Medinah and more, is the foremost expert when it comes to golf in Chicago. He’s been covering golf so long, he helped plant the trees at Medinah.
In case you haven’t heard, Medinah has an event on its calendar in September. A little thing called the Ryder Cup.
This town has hosted its share of U.S. Opens and PGA Championships, but Tim and I believe the Ryder Cup will be the biggest happening in Chicago golf history. I covered five battles between the United States and Europe during my years at the Tribune, and there’s nothing else like it in golf. Unlike a stroke-play event, there is an outcome on each hole, magnifying the pressure on each shot.
And unlike a regular tournament, the fans will have a direct rooting interest. A large number of Europeans will be making the trip to Medinah, and their voices will be heard. However, Chicago sports fans have a way of making their own noise. If you’re within a few miles of the course, you’ll know if an American makes a key putt.
Remember how loud Medinah got during the Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia backside battle in the 1999 PGA Championship. That will be a library compared to the Ryder Cup.
Our local coverage will spotlight preparations and key individuals involved in the Ryder Cup during our countdown to the opening matches. But it hardly is the only important event on the schedule.
Two big tournaments are within driving distance of downtown. The U.S. Women’s Open returns to Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis., for the first time since 1998. Meanwhile, the Senior PGA Championship will be held at Harbor Shores, a Jack Nicklaus course that has helped rejuvenate an environmentally abused piece of land in Benton Harbor, Mich.
Closer to home, there will be a spot in the 2013 Masters on the line during the U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship at Conway Farms in September. The Western Amateur will be held at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park.
We’ll have complete coverage of the important CDGA tournaments, including the Illinois Amateur, and key local pro events such as the Illinois Open. We will track the Northwestern and Illinois golf teams on the way to the Big Ten tournament. And we’ll follow area players on the various tours, including the No. 1 player in the world, Northwestern’s very own Luke Donald.
However, the great thing about covering golf is the participation aspect. Unlike other sports (when was the last time you put on the pads and played tackle football?), you can watch the pros play on Sunday and then go out and play the same game on Monday, perhaps even on the same course if you get lucky.
Talk to any golf course critic, and they will be quick to say Chicago has the best collection of public golf courses in the country and a rich heritage among private clubs. Tim and I will cover the latest developments, issues and trends among area courses.
Now, neither one of our swings will be confused with Luke Donald’s. More like Ronald McDonald. Yet, despite not receiving much love in return, we both share a passion not only for golf, but golf in Chicago.
Please look for our local reports each week in The Post.