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Pin High: Niemiec to compete at Illinois Open

Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 5:32 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sandy Bressner - sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Brett Hassels of Geneva smiles after sinking a birdie on the 13th hole during the second round of the IJGA-CDGA Junior Amateur tournament at Mill Creek Golf Course in Geneva Thursday morning.

St. Charles East product Chris Niemiec typically grabs an 8- or 9-iron when he’s about to address a shot 150 yards from the pin.

His math and muscle changed during last week’s trip to the Wyoming Open, where a sand wedge did the trick from that distance.

“With the altitude, it took awhile to adjust to that two-, three-, four-club difference, especially when the pins are tucked in difficult places,” Niemiec said. “I obviously enjoy playing out there, but you definitely need to be prepared for a different kind of golf.”

Niemiec welcomed elevation when he played recreationally as a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He hopes to see more of it as an aspiring professional.

Until then, he’s out to make a bigger name for himself closer to home, beginning with next week’s Illinois Open at The Glen Club in Glenview.

Niemiec, Milo French (Sugar Grove) and Matthew Triplett (St. Charles) earned berths into the Open at last month’s qualifier at Royal Hawk Country Club in St. Charles. Royal Hawk associate golf professional Brian Carroll and Royal Hawk/Royal Fox director of golf and player development Brian Groszek received exemptions into the three-day, stroke-play event that begins Monday.

Outside of an Illinois PGA event at Ravinia Green in Riverwoods earlier this month, Carroll admits “I haven’t been playing much” because of his job description.

“As a golf pro, you don’t get to practice and play much,” Carroll said. “You’re doing a lot of running the club, teaching lessons. Running the golf operation is the major part of my day.”

Carroll doesn’t fret considering his past open experience. He tied for 14th in last year’s tournament, shooting 2-under par at The Glen Club, a frequent recent host.

“It’s a longer, more open, kind of newer links-style course, but it’s always in good shape,” Carroll said. “It used to host a Web.com Tour event, so it’s a really good course.”

Niemiec noticed the same years ago, when he caddied for his father, Ed, in opens at The Glen Club.

These days, the roles are reversed, and Niemiec will happily have his father on his bag and at his side.

“The course is pretty favorable to me, and I’m looking forward to it,” said Niemiec, who tied for 25th at the Wyoming Open.

That tournament was held at Airport Golf Club in Cheyenne, a long way from home, and from sea level.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

CHIP-INS
What heat?
This week’s heat wave has not deterred players from heading to Bliss Creek Golf Club in Sugar Grove.

“I have not seen it,” pro shop chief Ralph Drendel said. “It’ll be interesting to see what happens. Saturday it’s supped to break, so it could be OK.”

Drendel said sales of July rounds are slightly ahead of those in July 2012 as the month reaches its final week-plus.

In addition, he said players in the course’s many afternoon leagues have rolled with the weather, as well.

“Those guys and gals get off work and drive down, play golf and have a cocktail or something,” he said, “so it’s also social.”

Hello, ladies
Dallas-based Eagle Golf has announced that 26 of its 31 public, private and municipal golf courses have extended a 2-for-1 women’s promotion through the rest of the season. Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva is among the list that allows two women’s players to play for the cost of one round.

“Our company has a responsibility to help grow the game of golf, and we see this program as an important part of our efforts moving forward,” Eagle Golf CEO Joe Munsch said in a statement.

Yorkville’s Whitetail Ridge Golf Course and Fresh Meadow Golf Club in Hillside are the other participating Illinois courses. The deal initially encompassed the first two months of the season.

Eagle Golf also offers a Kids Play Free promotion in which children 15-and-younger can play alongside an adult at certain times.

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