There are many big tournaments for the area's professional and amateur golfers, but there's only one really big team competition and Wednesday's staging of the Radix Cup matches at Oak Park Country Club is special.
It'll be the 50th anniversary of the annual battle between the top players in the Illinois PGA and the best amateurs from the Chicago District Golf Association.
Harry Radix, an Oak Park member, got the competition started in 1962 and wanted it to continue after his death. It has, though the expansion of both the IPGA and CDGA tournament schedules has diminished the attention given the Radix over the years.
The cycle of the competition is interesting. The pros won the first 12 stagings, the amateurs the next four. The pros also had an 11-1-1 stretch from 1986-98, but more recently the amateurs have held the upper hand. The CDGA team has won four of the last six meetings.
Still, the pros won last year by a 10-8 margin and have a 32-15-2 edge in the series. History may not mean much this time, as each team has five first-time Radix Cup participants on its 12-man team. Both were selected using the player-of-the-year point standings from 2010.
The IPGA has the event's most experienced Radix Cupper in Jim Sobb (Mundelein's Ivanhoe Club), who will be playing in the event for the 21st time. The CDGA has both the youngest (Glenview Park's Ryan Dorner, 22) and oldest (Taylorville's Dave Ryan, 57) in the competition. There'll be six best ball matches, with the first teeing off at 12:30 p.m.
Rebirth of Poplar Creek:
Friday marks the grand reopening of the Hoffman Estates Park District's 35-year old course. It has undergone a slight name change, now called the Bridges at Poplar Creek, but many other changes are more significant.
Poplar Creek's original 18 holes were designed by architects Ken Killian and Dick Nugent. The Bridges' version required the renovation of 15 holes by Lohmann Golf Designs of Marengo. The three finishing holes have been dubbed "The Final Charge" and are in the shape of a lightning bolt.
As for the new bridges, four of the eight have been designed to honor golf legends -- Bobby Jones, Chick Evans, Samuel Ryder and Babe Zaharias. The practice center has also been expanded and the clubhouse received a facelift. All the changes will be underscored at the reopening festivities, which will be highlighted by an 18-hole outing that has an 11:30 a.m. shotgun start.
Little City Invitational:
The Little City Invitational, one of the oldest and biggest charity fundraising events in the suburbs, will be held for the 48th time on Monday.
Usually the event, held at 36-hole Twin Orchard Country Club in Long Grove, has late-August dates and honors big supporters of the Palatine facility that helps individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.
This time its Morrie Kellman Humanitarian Award will go to the 20 members of the Little City Special Olympics golf team. Little City has had 14 qualifiers for the Illinois Special Olympics over the last four years.
"We have some great people at Little City who are also great athletes, and our event is a wonderful event to give them the honor they deserve," said LCI co-chairman Ed Hockfield.
Did you know?
The 78th annual Illinois Women's Golf Association Amateur championship begins its four-day run next Tuesday at Kishwaukee Country Club in DeKalb. Defending champion Brittany Atterbury of Rockton is one of four past champions in the 80-player field . … The Weekly Challenge Tour holds the first of its four designated major tournaments on Saturday at Prairie Landing in West Chicago. … The Chicago District Amateur will have a new champion when it tees off on Medinah's No. 1 course on June 27. Tommy Bliefnick, who won last year at Bull Valley in Woodstock, won't defend his title. The former Illinois State standout recently turned pro . … Erin Streick, longtime director of golf at Eagle Ridge, has left the Galena resort to become head pro at Fyre Lake National, a new Jack Nicklaus design on the outskirts of the Quad Cities in Sherrard, Ill. … Chicago's qualifier for the U.S. Women's Public Links tourney will be held Wednesday (June 8) at Wilmette Golf Club.
• Len Ziehm's column appears Wednesdays. To contact him, visit lenziehmongolf.com.