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Pin High: St. Charles Men’s Tournament format could change

Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 5:32 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Shaw Media file photo)
The St. Charles Men’s Tournament brings golfers to Pottawatomie Golf Course over three weekends from late July to mid-August, but organizers are evaluating the long-term viability of the format.

Barring inspiration from yours truly or Buzz Bissinger, “3 Weekends In July and August” isn’t likely to join the annals of golf literature anytime soon.

It’s not that the St. Charles Men’s Tournament isn’t fit to have a book thrown at it, but with the event’s longstanding layout under initial review, another working title works better.

The 2013 men’s tournament at Pottawatomie Golf Course begins with qualifying rounds Saturday and Sunday. After that, the field will be flighted before match play tournaments determine the city’s various champions over the next two weekends.

No doubt that’s a grueling but fair test to award such accolades. The matter on Pottawatomie pro Ron Skubisz’s mind is whether it’s a viable one.

“Everything is questioned not because you wonder if it’s right or wrong, but whether it’s relevant to today,” Skubisz said. “That’s certainly not just relegated to the golf course. Every business and every place and every home and everybody. The only thing we know for sure is that there’s change.”

Skubisz, in his third year since taking over for retired longtime Pottawatomie pro Jim Wheeler, isn’t out to assail the old guard. The city’s golfing clientele simply isn’t entering the tournament the way it has in past summers, a frustration that’s also seeped into the course’s similar events for women and juniors.

A field of 76 men will play 18-hole qualifying rounds this weekend, down from 88 in 2012 and the tournament’s full capacity of 112.

“The weekends of having to give that up, it’s hard for us economically, but it’s hard for people to justify that anymore,” Skubisz said. “If you have kids and you’re at the golf course Saturday-Sunday, Saturday-Sunday, Saturday-Sunday in the middle of the summer, it’s getting hard for people to be able to make that commitment, too.”

Assistant pro Bill Ogiego coordinates each tournament, from collecting entry fees to masterfully writing players’ names on the leaderboard on the Pottawatomie patio.

He certainly sees something of a trickle-up effect from children to parents when it comes to modern family time dynamics. Ogiego knows the score when it comes to the city’s juniors and adult players alike.

“I remember growing up, I played baseball in the summer and I had 16 games,” Ogiego said. “I have a kid in my junior golf league who had swimming at 6 a.m., 6 to 8. Had tennis from 9 to 11, played his nine holes down here in the league and then had a baseball game in the evening. How parents have enough time to do what they have to do, you know, three weekends, is a tough thing.”

Still, it’s not just the family men. Past summers have produced a handful of cases in which newly married or single competitors weighed entering the tournament against vacationing with their wives or girlfriends.

Even the recent high school graduates or young collegians in the field might face conflicts from orientation or early returns to campus.

Nothing has been established yet, but the tournament appears to be scrambling to work on its short game. Aurora crowns a city champ with a 72-hole flighted tournament, but that’s just one alternative.

“It’ll still be here,” Ogiego said, “but how will it be, we don’t know.”

Sounds like ideal tee box chatter. Beginning Saturday, the best of the best will have three weekends to talk.

• 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

Mello Milo

Milo French missed the cut in his two Illinois Open appearances before this week.

He was recently removed from his Kaneland graduation then, which, as French tells it, says a mouthful about how he fared.

Refocused and re-energized by his young son and family, French cited maturity as the chief reason behind his ninth-place tie at the 2013 Open, which concluded Wednesday at The Glen Club in Glenview.

“Definitely came away with a very positive experience. Definitely learned a lot about the importance of minimizing mistakes in a tournament like that,” French said. “Definitely a step in the right direction that will make me a better player in the long run.”

French carded two double bogeys and one triple en route to a three-day, 2-under-par score of 214. In the past, he said, such blow-up holes would send him sputtering.

Not anymore.

Behind his newfound perspective and the guidance of caddy Greg Takata of North Aurora, French has harnessed his mental game more than ever. Perhaps he can lend encouragement to any fellow golfers at his 10-year Kaneland reunion next summer.

“Everybody can handle playing well and hitting good shots just fine. That’s never going to be a problem for anybody,” French said. “The biggest problem a player can face on a golf course is your misses. Recovering from that and not letting that affect you the rest of the round is something I did very well all week.”

(Hot) dogleg hole

National Hot Dog Day might have been Tuesday, but early patrons of Batavia’s Settler’s Hill Golf Course relished a miniature reprisal Thursday.

Among its listing of online specials, Settler’s Hill offered a free hot dog to any player paying for a round before 2 p.m.

The promotion was billed as “Dog Day Afternoon.” The pleasant weather suggested it was anything but.

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

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