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Joe Jemsek Pioneer of Public Golf Dies at 89

Joe Jemsek, the son of immigrant parents who began a career in golf as a caddie and later became owner of Cog Hill Golf and Country Club, died Tuesday after a long illness, club officials announced. He was 89.

Jemsek, called the ``Patriarch of Public Golf,'' is credited with originating the movement to have public golf courses mirror the conditions and amenities of private country clubs.

Jemsek began his career in golf at the age of six, when he'd hop freight trains passing near his Argo, Ill., home for golf courses in Chicago's suburbs to caddie.

He was 12 years old when he hitchhiked to Lemont, Ill., where the three Coghill brothers had built a new course. Marty Coghill took him on as his caddie.

Jemsek graduated from caddie to parking lot attendant to cook to caddie master to assistant pro to golf pro. He briefly joined the pro tour at age 17 and competed against Walter Hagen, Tommy Armour, Ky Laffoon, Lighthorse Harry Cooper, Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead.

'I told those guys 'You go ahead and live in your cars and play in tournaments. I'll own the golf courses,''' Jemsek recalled several years ago.

He left the tour and returned to Cog Hill, where he continued to learn the golf business. He bought the course in 1951.

Jemsek began the nationally televised series ``All-Star Golf,'' a lineup of 146 golf matches featuring famous touring professionals and still seen in reruns on The Golf Channel.

Jemsek is survived by a son and daughter, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
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