Jemseks think a BMW return to Cog Hill is possible
After hosting the inaugural BMW Championship in 2007 as well as from 2009-11 before organizers decided on an every-other-year in Chicago schedule, the owners of Cog Hill find themselves on the outside looking in this week as Conway Farms in Lake Forest makes its debut on the national stage.
But if you think Cog Hill president Katherine Jemsek and her father and course owner Frank would be bitter being on the sidelines as another Chicago area course hosts the very event they nurtured for years, think again.
"We miss having the tournament, but we understand that organizations have to explore new opportunities, and the Western Golf Association's ultimate goal is how much money they can raise for their charity -- the Evans Scholars," Katherine Jemsek said.
The Jemseks had to figure they still would be playing a big part in that mission, especially following their $5 million renovation of Dubsdread in 2008.
Instead, things turned ugly as the pros came out firing at the new-look Cog -- from the condition of the greens to the difficulty of the bunkers, to the similarities of the par 3s.
By 2011, their distaste was so overwhelming that the BMW hasn't returned to Cog since.
"I don't think it's a matter of the course. I think when you redo a course there's always going to be controversy," Jemsek said. "You have players who have been here for 15 years and now they have to learn a new course."
But this year that new course will be Conway Farms.
"Frank Jemsek and (general manager) Nick McCaulkey are friends of mine and some of the best golf people in the city of Chicago, and for 20 years they did an exceptional job with the BMW Championship and before that the Western Open," said Todd Marsh, general manager at Conway Farms.
"From a championship golf course, a public venue for everyone to play, it's the best in Chicago.
"They did a great job, but it's nice for a PGA tournament to come to the North Shore -- there hasn't been one since 1972, and we're excited to host it."
And the Jemseks are excited to see how the whole event goes.
"Dad and I are planning to go up to the tournament," Katherine said. "We like to see what other people do and see what ideas we can get."
Then maybe incorporate some of those ideas when they host a future BMW Championship?
That's the hope for the Jemseks.
"I think just because the tournament tries something new and goes somewhere else for a year doesn't mean it's never going to come back," she said.
"We have a great relationship with the WGA, and we would like that to continue. We would love to be in a rotation for the tournament because then you have a variety."