Seven Chicago-Area Clubs to Join Western Amateur Rota

Seven Chicago-area golf clubs will take turns hosting the prestigious Western Amateur from 2009 through 2015, the Western Golf Association has announced. The clubs include: 2009 - Conway Farms Golf Club, Lake Forest; 2010 - Skokie Country Club, Glencoe; 2011 - North Shore Country Club, Glenview; 2012 - Exmoor Country Club, Highland Park; 2013 - Olympia Fields Country Club (South Course), Olympia Fields; 2014 - Beverly Country Club, Chicago; 2015 - Rich Harvest Farms, Sugar Grove.

WGA chairman John Fix said the association is appreciative of the support shown by the clubs in stepping forward and welcoming the Western Amateur back to the Chicago area. "We found this select group of clubs very receptive to the idea," Fix said. "We're happy to be able to announce a lineup through 2015 that includes such prominent clubs.

"This is a very positive development for both the championship as well as our Evans Scholarships," Fix added. "It gives the Western Golf Association the opportunity to present, at the highest level, the best of amateur golf to the people of Chicago. At the same time, all of these clubs have been very strong supporters of the Evans Scholars Program and have had numerous Evans Scholars from their clubs, so this is a perfect fit for us."

In February, the Western Golf Association announced that following the 2008 Western Amateur, Point O'Woods Golf & Country Club's 38-year tradition of annually hosting the Western Amateur was coming to an end. WGA officials decided to explore the possibility of rotating the Western Amateur among a handful of Chicago-area clubs.

"Our goal was to move it around to a select group of clubs that support the Western Golf Association and the Evans Scholarship Program and that also feature quality, championship venues capable of challenging the world's top amateur golfers," said John Kaczkowski, WGA vice president of tournaments. "We're looking forward to bringing the Western Amateur championship to the Chicago area for the first time since 1952, when the tournament was hosted by Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park

Point O'Woods in Benton Harbor, Mich., initially hosted the Western Amateur in 1963. The championship returned there in 1965 and then was anchored at the club starting in 1971. The Western Amateur - first held in 1899 at the Glen View Club in Golf, Illinois - has from its inception been regarded as one of the major amateur golf events in the world. The list of the champions is headed by Tiger Woods, who won in 1994, and Phil Mickelson, who won in 1991. Woods' victory was his first major win in amateur competition, coming just three weeks before he claimed the 1994 U.S. Amateur title. Having played in four Western Amateurs, Woods dubbed the tournament "the Masters of amateur golf."

Other past winners include such notables as Justin Leonard (1992-93), Chris DiMarco (1988), Scott Verplank (1985), Hal Sutton (1979-80), Curtis Strange (1974), Ben Crenshaw (1973), Andy North (1971) and Tom Weiskopf (1963). Qualifying for the Western Amateur's "Sweet 16" match-play competition is one of the treasured accomplishments each year among the world's top-ranked amateurs. The Western Amateur has been played by amateurs from 24 states as well as Canada, Australia and South Africa.