Cog Hill’s Dubsdread course gets a chance at redemption this week. Unfortunately, it may be too late for the venue of this week’s BMW Championship — or what amounts to be the FedEx Cup Playoffs’ semifinal.
Ever since 2008, when noted architect Rees Jones finished a renovation of the Cog Hill course, which hosted the Western Open from 1991 to 2006, player reviews had been lukewarm. Last year, players were a bit more vocal in their criticism after the already quirky greens became putting challenges due to the unfavorable weather and the design just did not sit well.
Jones’ work is regularly applauded, but Dubsdread may be one of the rare exceptions. “I’m excited to go back there,” said Steve Stricker, who won the 1996 Western Open. “But I’m disappointed about what transpired there. The redo is not conducive to our tournament there. It was a little severe. It’s playable, but a little tricked up and goofy in spots. I feel real bad for the Jemsek family (which owns of the course). They stuck a lot of money into the renovation, and they’re great people. I liked it before, but the players just don’t like it. The redo isn’t good. It’s sad for the Jemsek family.”
As a result, the players’ dislike of the course may cost Cog Hill a spot on the PGA Tour calendar in future years. Cog Hill will have hosted the 2007, 2009, 2010 and this year’s BMW Championship. Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., and Cherry Hills Country Club in Colorado, are scheduled to host the 2012 and 2014 championships, respectively.
For all the recent negativity toward Cog Hill, it received a bit of positive reinforcement from world No. 1 Luke Donald, who played collegiately at nearby Northwestern University. Donald tweeted that “players will enjoy the much better conditions.”
Should Donald’s peers be in agreement, part of the credit will go to golf course superintendent Scott Pavalko. The damage, though, appears to have already been done and irreparable.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.