Despite being the third largest media market in the country according to Arbitron, Chicago will be without a returning professional golf tour for at least the next few years. There will be multiple chicago golf area events in the near future, including the 2012 Ryder Cup and probably the 2013 BMW Championship, but no event on a consistent basis is scheduled.
The loss of the Western Open/BMW Championship from Cog Hill to a nomadic status has ripped away an annual professional Chicago golf tournament from an area that once hosted every major golf tour each season. Now Chicago golf is faced with the reality of neither the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour or Champions Tour regularly visiting the Windy City.
However, according to a recent Crain’s report, preliminary talks are taking place about a possible Chicago Champions Tour event. The Champions Tour last visited Chicago in 2002 at Harborside International Golf Center. The 2012 Senior PGA Championship this summer will be only a 90-minute drive from Chicago in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
However, Chicago golf still lacks an annual Champions Tour event and LPGA Tour event. With the BMW Championship probably coming to town only every other year, an annual Champions Tour event could be quite successful. If everything would fall into place, there is a possibility the Champions Tour could visit Chicago as early as next year.
With its proximity to downtown, Harborside International would once again be an excellent host for the Champions Tour. Seven Bridges Golf Club in Woodridge has hosted major Celebrity Tour events in the past, but would most likely lack the resources for a consistent professional event. Other Chicago golf courses worth consideration would be Kemper Lakes Golf Club, which hosted the 1989 PGA Championship and Olympia Fields Country Club, which hosted the US Open in 2003.
Dark horse golf courses in the race for a Champions Tour event could be Butler National Golf Club, which recently made waves in the media about a potential club rules adjustment to allow female members and Mistwood Golf Course, which is in the middle of a $6 million course and clubhouse renovation. Butler’s reputation would probably command major tournament consideration, but an annual Champions Tour event at the Oak Brook layout could attract the game’s biggest stars over 50.