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Pin High: Lots to chew on at St. Charles CC

Published: Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 10:38 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 10:42 p.m. CST

Thirty-seven goats plus 30 ecstatic blind veterans plus about $100,000 in funds raised equals a pretty eventful recent stretch at St. Charles Country Club.

First, let's ruminate on the ruminants.

Acting on the idea of golf course superintendent Chuck Barber, the country club again rented goats this summer to help eliminate overgrowth on the property's quarry course, adjacent to the main course.

With some vegetation on the six-hole, undulating course especially thick and difficult to manage, the goats chomped away for four weeks, leaving earlier this week.

"That's what they do; they eat," club manager Ken Vranek said. "And they eat everything. And it's awesome."

And it's fine by club officials. And several spectating members and their children.

The practice did not involve herbicides and kept the goats roaming about a wide area with a movable fence. The club initially rented the goats for two weeks, but extended their stay for two more.

"No goats were injured in any way in this undertaking," Vranek said.

On Wednesday, the club continued a longer-standing custom by welcoming a group of blind veterans from around the region for a golf experience. Golf pro Jim Sutherland coordinated the event.

Members met veterans at the club entrance and soon were spending their mornings trading stories for assistance on the course. Groups typically played three to six holes, pending on the veterans' preference.

Vranek said one of the most seasoned military men among the group reflected on the 1960s and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

"Our members get a tremendous amount of goodwill out of it in their hearts," Vranek said. "They come back and go, 'That was awesome.' "

A similar theme emerged from Monday's annual Charity Golf Classic. This year's event benefited Tri-City Health Partnership and Lazarus House, and included a full day of golf, a silent auction and dinner.

Vranek said the country club will donate $45,000 to $50,000 to both the health partnership and Lazarus House.

The country club donated approximately $1 million to local charities in the 12 years before 2014.

CMN benefit excites hosts: St. Charles Country Club, Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles and Geneva's Mill Creek Golf Club were among six regional courses set to host The Ace Hardware Foundation's 23rd annual vendor golf outing Thursday.

The daylong effort seeked to raise $1 million to benefit hospitals in the Children's Miracle Network.

"It's one of our favorite events just because we get to see all the efforts the people of the charity put in," Pheasant Run pro Jamie Nieto said. "Some of the kids actually come out from the Miracle Network, and golfers really enjoy that, to see what their donation is going to help.

"And then from us, it's a busy morning, but once we get them out there, it's just wait until they get back in. So it's a good day for us."

• 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

Gaffney's Drive ends at subregionals

St. Charles East sophomore Kacie Gaffney did not advance from Wednesday's Drive, Chip & Putt subregional at Cog Hill in Lemont.

Competing in the Girls 14-15 division, Gaffney finished eighth in the 12-player field. Only the top two finishers advanced to regionals at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, in September. There, players will vie for a trip to nationals at Augusta National in Georgia in April 2015.

Gaffney, a sectional qualifier in her freshman season at East, secured a berth at Cog Hill by placing third in her age bracket at her local qualifier at Cantigny in Wheaton June 26.

Biddle takes aim at Amateur

St. Charles resident and Wheaton Academy product Blake Biddle will tee off at 9:10 a.m. Eastern Monday as he begins play in the U.S. Amateur at the Atlanta Athletic Club's Highlands and Riverside courses.

The tournament marks Biddle's third Amateur in four years.

Biddle, who will be a graduate assistant at Arkansas in the fall, will play alongside Alex Ellis of Austin, Texas and Matthew Naumec of Wilbraham, Mass. for separate 18-hole rounds on Monday and Tuesday.

After that, the beginning field of 312 will be cut to the low 64 players, who will begin a six-round, match-play tournament Wednesday. The Amateur concludes with a 36-hole championship match Aug. 17.

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

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