Lake of the Woods Golf Course boasts recent upgrades

By July 8, 2010, 7:05 pm


Lake of the Woods Golf Course
The green at the 534-yard 15th hole is the most receptive of all the par 5s at Lake of the Woods Golf Course in Mahomet.

MAHOMET, Ill. – As the PGA Tour John Deere Classic makes its stop at TPC Deere Run, golf in Illinois becomes the topic of conversation. Lake of the Woods Golf Course is a rarity in east-central Illinois golf, in that it features lots of mature trees and a surprising number of elevation changes for this basically flat part of the state.

As part of the Forest Preserves of Champaign County, this municipal track, a Robert Bruce Harris design, can still be played for well less than $30 plus cart, even on peak-season weekends. But don't let the low rates and relatively benign length of 6,578 yards deceive you –  the course is not only an excellent challenge, it's also emerged from a set of major renovations that have improved the facilities tremendously.

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Making play better at Lake of the Woods
Beginning in 2007, the course began rebuilding all the tee boxes, the driving range, and the bag-drop and practice green areas. This meant a somewhat painful year of playing from temporary tees and no practice range for the course's loyal members, but by all accounts, it was worth it.

'Everyone I've talked to has been very positive about the changes,' said Dave Huber, golf pro at Lake of the Woods for the past 20-plus years. 'Although it took a few of them a little while to get used to the new traffic flow.'

The driveway to the parking lot now circles around the practice green, making for better and safer cart and foot traffic flow to and from the pro shop and the first tee. And the back end of the driving range, which used to slide downhill out of view, has been raised so that all but the longest shots can be seen as they land. The teeing area on the range has also been elevated, graded and resodded.

Most dramatic, though, are the rebuilt tee boxes. Where once golfers were often greeted with scarred earth and uneven lies, now they'll find level footing and soil that doesn't break tees as they are being pushed in.

The one upgrade that seems to still be missing is a set of steps up the side of the steeply elevated tee box at the 343-yard fifth hole. As one regular player put it, 'If I were a personal injury lawyer, I'd just set up a table right at the bottom of that tee box and wait for old guys to slip.'

This one shortcoming aside, the improvements have made a good course even better. Despite the relative shortness of the layout, Huber is eager to point out a perplexing fact. 'In the 20-plus years I've been here, the tournament record is still only 67,' he stated.

Huber cannot quite explain the relatively high score, which, as he notes, is made all the more curious given that, 'a lot of these high school kids who play out here are so long that they can drive many of the par 4s, and can reach all the par 5s in two. Guys have told me that they've shot or seen lower, and I tell them to bring in the scorecards. I've never seen any lower scores, though, at least not in competition play.'

'It must be the greens,' Huber speculates with a wry grin. 'There are a bunch of putts out here I still can't figure out.' Indeed, the last time I hosted a group of golfers here, one of them commented that they were the trickiest greens he'd played all year.

Needless to say, there's no plan to renovate the greens.

-- by Kiel Christianson

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.