Eagle Ridge, Illinois' biggest golf resort, endured a disastrous summer in 2011, when extraordinary rainfalls did severe damage to all four of its courses. On one nightmarish day in July, a whopping 16 inches of rain fell on the No. 2 hole of The General course alone.
"We weren't closed too long -- a few weeks," said director of golf Michael Stewart, who had just taken the job in Galena when the rains hit last July. "But when we opened up we had to use temporary tees, and we let people play at reduced rates."
That was last year, and things have changed much for the better for this season. The recovery effort led to a $2.3 million renovation, which has left the resort's 63 holes in much better shape than they were before the storms.
"We had to rebuild over 100 bunkers, reshape the creeks and restore the tee boxes on all four courses," said Stewart. The storms, he now believes, were "a blessing in disguise." Drainage was also improved and bridges repaired through the recovery effort.
When the work was in its final stages the weather also turned extraordinarily good, so Eagle Ridge had an extraordinarily high 111 rounds played on the North course (which is open year-around) in January. The openings of the other courses were the earliest in the resort's history, which spans five decades. The South opened on April 6, the East on April 13 and The General on April 20.
Arrowhead opens South nine
Arrowhead, the Wheaton Park District's 27-hole facility, now has its usual 18-hole layout in operation again and Batavia architect Greg Martin's redesign has created one of the best public layouts in the Chicago area.
Martin has been working on nine holes at a time. The East nine was closed in the fall of 2010 and reopened last year. The South was closed last season and reopened last Saturday. Those nines form Arrowhead's 18-hole combination.
The bunkers are smaller and deeper than they had been, and now have fresh white sand. Most of the tee boxes have been squared and the biggest change on the South is the switching of Nos. 7 and 8.
No. 7 had been a long par-4 and No. 8 a par-5. Now they're reversed, with the seventh playing at 505 yards and the eighth at 430. The renovation, which will be completed this fall when Martin tackles the West nine, comes on the course's 30th anniversary since the Wheaton Park District took ownership in 1982.
"We had a nice piece of property, but not a good golf course," said Bruce Stoller, director of golf since 2005. "Now we have a great golf course -- one of the premier public golf courses in Chicago."
Here and there:
Not only does Arrowhead have a new course, it will soon have a new superintendent. Mike Mumper, who has held that job for six years, is moving to Riverside Golf Club. ... Chicago's local qualifying round for the U.S. Open will be held Monday at Inverness with 90 players competing for sectional berths. ... The 21st Illinois State Public Links Championship is also on tap for Monday, at George Dunne National in Oak Forest.
Illinois won its fourth straight Big Ten men's golf title last weekend at Indiana's French Lick course, and Northwestern, winner of the last two Big Ten Match Play titles, finished third. Michigan State was the women's champ with the Illini fifth and NU seventh.
David Inglis, an NU men's assistant coach, will be assistant coach for Europe in the Palmer Cup college matches. ... Jason Dufner, who notched his first PGA Tour win at New Orleans last Sunday, had his previous victory on the Nationwide Tour in the LaSalle Bank Open at The Glen Club in Glenview in 2006.
The fourth annual Sunshine Through Golf 100-Hole Marathon will be held May 19 at the Zigfield Troy par-3 course. It has raised over $250,000 for the Chicago District Golf Association charity arm since 2009.
The indoor Golf Nation facility in Palatine now has a working agreement with Royal Country Clubs' three private courses -- The Grove in Long Grove, Royal Hawk in St. Charles and Klein Creek in Winfield. ... The Joan Legat Memorial Outing, a fundraiser for the College of Lake County Foundation, has been scheduled for May 18 at Glen Flora Country Club in Waukegan.
Ryder Cup watch:
U.S. team: Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Steve Stricker, Tiger Woods, Brandt Snedeker (plus four captain's picks).
European team: Rory McIlroy, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Justin Rose, Paul Lawrie, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (plus two captain's picks).