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                                       This month’s article features what was a “so-so” year for region weather, an excellent year for many local 
                                   events, and an exciting year for all of the world’s golf tours.
Mother Nature
   While we made it through the winter months with some ease, (and were able to play a few rounds here & there), March through May were a disappointment “weather-wise.” The cool temperatures and record setting rainfall gave way to a dry summer – testing all of our talented region superintendent’s skills. As usual, they did a great job (&) we were able to get in most all of our “outings” and league play. And, even with our poor fall “shoulder-season” weather, we managed to post over (500,000!) rounds at our local courses!
The Season
   April’s Masters never disappoints – and this year’s was no different. Adam Scott won in a play-off with Angel Cabrera – a win that propelled Mr. Scott to his best year ever -and- most recently saw him just miss Australia’s “triple-crown”: Winning the Australian PGA, Australian Masters, and barely getting nudged out (by Rory McIlroy) at the Australian Open! And…he “threw in” a victory (with partner Jason Day) in the World Cup! Incredible! And, also, this year’s Masters will long be remembered in China – as that country’s (14) year old golfer – Guan Tialang – not only competed in the tournament (but) actually made the cut!
   The US Open was won by Justin Rose – his first “major” -but- watch for him to contend for many years to come in all of the majors! South Korea’s Inbee Park (by June) had won all (3!) of the majors played to that point on the LPGA Tour – and finished her year with (6) total victories & the “Player of the Year” title. Great year!
   Phil Mickelson traveled to Great Britain and came back with the Scottish Open & British Open titles in consecutive weeks (a rare double). And (19 year old) Jordan Speith (with his victory at the John Deere Classic) became the youngest to win on the PGA Tour in (82) years! The Champions Tour returned to the Chicago Area with the Emcompass Championship – Kenny Perry won his 1st (&) 2nd “majors!” by June (and) continued his great year by wining the year-long Charles Schwab Cup. And locally, the victories started to stream in: John Ehrgott won the Will County Amateur, The Gary Amateur title went to John Flanagan, (and) Taylor Noel won the Lake-Porter Championship.
Moving Forward
   Jason Dufner won the PGA Championship – making it (19) different “major” champions in the last (21) major competitions! The European Women’s team narrowly defeated the US team for the Solheim Cup. The PGA Tour held the BMW Championship in nearby Lake Forest, IL – with Jim Furyk firing a smooth (59!) in the third round. The US Men’s team beat the “World” team in the exciting Presidents Cup; the Porter Amateur Championship was won by Jeff Gilbertsen, the Will County Senior Championship title went to Tim Bell, local high school star (&) Valparaiso’s own Harley Dubsky started her senior year by shooting a (65!) in an early match (&) finished her season by winning the Girl’s HS Championship Individual State title! Henrik Stenson won (both) the Fed-Ex Cup & the “Race to Dubai” Tournament (&) money titles! Tim Burke won the Long Drive Championship this year with an incredible (427 yard) poke! AND, our region’s finest tournament “series” (The Pepsi-Illiana Challenge) – involving (19) events & a “Jackpot” series finale -and- which includes many of the area’s best players, concluded – with the team of: Ryan Kramer – Brian Ettling – Mark Watson – Chuck Blasgen (&) Natalie Achten bringing home the “jackpot.”
Even More
   Over (100!) holes-in-one were sent in to the paper – Congratulations to all! Gleason Park GC held the 1st “Reunion Day” event – with everyone is looking forward to a return engagement next year! Wicker Park GC repeated the popular Night Golf Tourney; the “1st Tee of Hammond Classic” was a lot of fun for all who participated; and even though it was not “golf-related”, our area did a great job hosting the “Cal Ripken World Series” at the Hammond Optimist Youth Sports Complex – Congrats to the Crown Point Bulldogs on capturing this title!
   And we at the paper had FUN covering the events, participating in the outings, and writing articles – such as our publisher’s (Jon Chontos) fine work on the historic (1973) Hobart Brickies Golf team’s path to the state finals (as well as) the Lew Wallace Hornets team’s fine seasons of 1970 & ‘71.
   And feature articles covering Glenwoodie GC, J&M Golf, Wicker Park GC, Duck Creek GC, Chicago Heights GC, The Course at Aberdeen, River Pointe CC, and Lansing CC -and- our new series – entitled “Region Golf Stand-Out” which included Chuck Hegan, Marv Hanson & Harold Koenig this year – provided the feedback & suggestions that will guarantee we will be bringing you more surprises in (2014)!
Golf Shots
   Many of our local courses will be open year round – call your favorite & check it out – but remember, even if the course is closed – a lot of the time the restaurant/bar areas are still open (and) are a great place to re-play those “rounds” of summer with others. And don’t forget golf gifts (&) certificates are always appreciated by all!
   Special thanks this year: To all our readers & advertisers who make Golf Plus Newspaper and possible – we really do consider it a privilege to bring you the local golf “goings-on.” And to the golf professionals & their staff(s), and the course owners & superintendents of our area – a “tip of the hat” for a job well done! Thank you to WJOB – especially to Larry The “K” & “Big George” for allowing me to appear on their show this year -and- to all the callers who won prizes (thanks for calling in) & to my friend Michael Modrzejewski for all his help (&) last (but not least) to my wonderful wife Mary who supports my “golfing habit!”
   Lastly: Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all – try to stay in “golfing shape” during the cold months (&) stay in touch – our website is up all winter (and changes), and our phone line (219)947-4314 & e-mail address are always ready for any feedback/ideas/or comments.
   *March 1st is less than (90) days away! See you then - PM.
2013 – A Brief “Recap” Of The Year In Golf
by Pete Mandich
GPO Correspondent