Announcement on fate of Chicago golf course could come at BMW at Medinah

Mike Keiser, the Chicago golf visionary whose projects have included the well-received Bandon Dunes in Oregon and Sand Valley in Wisconsin, is also involved in a much-discussed Chicago course that involves Tiger Woods.

That project would require the combining of the existing Jackson Park and South Shore courses operated by the Chicago Park District. So far that highly expensive and politically charged project has been all talk and no action, but Keiser hasn't ruled it out.

Talking during last week's Tour event at The Glen Club in Glenview, Keiser lauded the routing devised by Woods' lead architect, Beau Welling, and said a new construction plan might get the project underway before the year is out.

"We're about to decide that we'll do it in phases," Keiser said. "We'll go ahead with Beau's design on South Shore until the other course is ready. The holes on South Shore will be stunning."

Welling's plan calls for five holes at South Shore, which is now a nine-hole course. Four of Welling's holes would be on the lake and two of them would be par-3s. South Shore would then operate as a junior golf course and have a dynamic caddie program.

An announcement on the status of the project could come during the BMW Championship - the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoff event that comes to Medinah in August.

Keiser's other nationally-known projects are much further along. Bandon Dunes, celebrating its 20th year, is getting still another course.

"It'll be our fifth, and last," Keiser said. The architectural team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw are about halfway through the construction process on a layout called The Sheep Ranch. It's expected to open June 1, 2020.

Sand Valley is also getting another course, the third at the facility. It'll be a Tom Doak design - a par-68 layout that'll measure about 6,300 yards and hasn't been named yet.

A name-game at U.S. Women's Open: Megan Furtney of South Elgin makes her U.S. Women's Open debut Thursday in a threesome that includes Megan Osland, of Canada, and Megha Ganne of New Jersey. All were sectional qualifiers for the event at Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina. Furtney and Ganne are amateurs.

They'll tee off in the last threesome off the No. 1 tee.

Furtney 18, just finished her senior year at St. Charles North High School and will enroll at Duke in the fall. Earlier this month she teamed up with soon-to-be Duke teammate Erica Shepherd, of Greenwood, Ind., to win the U.S. Women's Four-Ball title in Jacksonville, Fla.

Illini look ahead: The University of Illinois men's team was again the best of the state's collegiate teams, but a tie for 27th in the NCAA finals to conclude the season was a downer. The Illini won their fifth straight Big Ten title and also ruled their NCAA regional before their season ended Sunday in Fayetteville, Ark.

"It was a disappointing week, and the kids are pretty down," coach Mike Small said. "We struggled from the very first hole on the first day and never could get things going in the right direction. That's not the personality of Illini golf."

Illinois was ranked No. 24 nationally and made its 12th straight appearance in the NCAA finals with a very young team.

"Usually this is a time of year where you thank the seniors and send them off, but we don't have any," Small said. "That's a positive thing. This team still has another year to grow."

The Illini will return all nine members of this year's team and also welcome freshman Jerry Ji, a recruit from The Netherlands.

Here and there: The Chicago qualifier for the June 27 U.S. Senior Open at the Warren course at Notre Dame is Wednesday at Inverness and the 90-player field includes some stars of the past - Dale Tallon, Jerry Vidovic and Joel Hirsch - who don't compete much these days. Two spots in the finals will be on the line.

Cog Hill, the Chicago area's biggest golf facility with its 72 holes, has announced it will use Dynamic Pricing - a formula in which golf rates will be adjusted, both higher and lower, in real time, based on demand, availability and other changing factors.

Springfield's Jake Erickson is the CDGA Mid-Amateur champion. He defeated Zach Jecklin 3 and 2in the final at Northmoor, in Highland Park. It was Erickson's first CDGA victory after runner-up finishes in both the Mid-Am and the Illinois State Amateur.

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