Every year, across the ocean, during the month of July the folks in the British Isles crown their “champion golfer of the year”. Back home across the Atlantic, just a few weeks later during the month of August, the Illinois PGA will determine our state’s very own “champion golfer of the year” when the Illinois Open Championship is contested on August 6-8 at Ravinia Green Country Club and The Glen Club.
While the governing body of golf rules outside of the United States, the R&A, would argue that the definition of ‘The Open’ means the British Open, for the more than 800 members of the Illinois Section of the PGA of America plus another 600 amateur residents of the state of Illinois who attempted to qualify for this year’s state title, ‘The Open’ means the Illinois Open Championship.
The 2018 Illinois Open Championship, a 54-hole tournament, will have rounds one and two contested at Ravinia Green CC in Riverwoods and The Glen Club in Glenview. The field will be cut down to the top 50 scores plus ties for the final 18-hole round at The Glen Club (Wednesday, August 8).
“The Illinois Open event brings together the best amateur and professional players in Illinois to compete in the state championship of golf,” said Carrie Williams, Executive Director at the Illinois PGA Section. “Each year the field seems to strengthen and this year is no exception with many of the state’s top amateurs and professionals in the field.”
There are a few comparisons that can be drawn between the British Open and the Illinois Open. The British Open is the oldest major golf championship; it began in 1860 and in 2018 was contested for the 147th time. The Illinois Open dates back to 1950 and has been contested annually every year since, with 2018 being the 69th state championship.
Two interesting ‘family’ facts about the 2018 Illinois Open were mentioned at the tournament’s media day gathering. There will be three father / son combos competing in this year’s state championship: Danny Mulhern, head PGA professional at Glen Oak CC, and son Zach Mulhern; David Paeglow, head PGA professional at Kishwaukee CC, and son Jack Paeglow; and, Doug Bauman, head PGA professional at Biltmore CC competes along with son Greg Bauman. In the early years of the British Open Old Tom Morris, Sr. competed along with Young Tom Morris, Jr.
‘Brothers’ are another family combo playing in the 69th Illinois Open. Illinois PGA top brass Carrie Williams and Palmer Moody pointed out that there will be ten sibling pairs competing in 2018. Recall that the most recent brother pair in the British Open was the Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco, from Italy, who scored well in 2014 at Royal Liverpool, with Francesco winning this year at Carnoustie.The purse at the 2018 British is among the largest in professional golf. Tournament organizers, the Royal and Ancient, announced that the prize fund for this year’s Open has increased to a total of £7.9 million ($10.27 million); the “champion golfer of the year” at Carnoustie received £1.42million ($1.846 million). While far less than the British Open purse, the 2018 Illinois Open purse is not merely pocket change, with this year’s total purse looking to equal or surpass the 2017 total purse of $100,000.
While the competition level at the British Open draws the top golfers in the world, the size of the British Open is 154 competitors. We might want to believe that the competition is ‘greater’ for the Illinois Open, as the size of the state championship field is 264 players.From a spectator-point-of-view, the Illinois Open betters the British Open when it comes to ticket prices. Contingent upon date of purchase, a single day gate admission for any championship round at this year’s British Open would cost spectators £70-£80-£90 ($91-$104-$117). Admission to the Illinois Open at either site, on any day is free; parking is also free.
One final factoid which could be found in the ‘Does size really matter?’ category: the Illinois Open trophy is bigger than the Claret Jug. Dimensions for the Illinois Open Trophy are 32 inches high by 8 inches wide with an approximate weight of 8 pounds while the Claret Jug is 20.75 inches tall including the base, which is 7.25 inches in diameter at its widest. The jug itself is 13.50 inches in height and 5.5 inches in diameter at its widest; it weighs just 5.4 pounds. Three tiers of base add just over 7 inches to the jug’s height, totaling 20.75 inches.
Given its first opportunity as a host site for the Illinois Open, Ravinia Green’s head PGA professional, Danny Behr, superintendent, John Otis, and general manager Tony Rizzo, are eager to showcase their fine facility.
Look for defending champion, Patrick Flavin, plus Jim Billiter, Carlos Sainz Jr., Travis Johns, Mike Small, Vince India, Jim Sobb, or host pro Ethan Roush to be at the top of the leaderboard nearing the 54th hole on Wednesday. (photo credits: IPGA)