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BMW CHAMPIONSHIP MEDIA DAY
May 12, 2009
JOHN KACZKOWSKI: Good morning. I'd like to welcome everyone to the Midwest Golf House and the media day for the 2009 BMW Championship. My name is John Kaczkowski. I'm the vice president of tournaments for the Western Golf Association, and I am personally taking responsibility for the weather today. No one else can claim that.
We've got a great day for you, a really intriguing group of speakers lined up this morning, and then of course what you're all here for, as well, is to play the renovated Cog Hill, which is fantastic. Without further ado, I'd like to call up our first speaker. He's the chairman of the board of the Western Golf Association, the Evans Scholars Foundation, John Fix.
JOHN N. FIX: Thanks, John. What a group. We've got stars, we have golfers, we have everything. Glad to have you here in Lemont.
The WGA and the BMW Championship are really very, very happy to have it back in Chicago. We had a wonderful time in St. Louis, but we're really happy to be at Cog Hill. We are in our third year with BMW. Our partnership has been a wonderful partnership, and more importantly, I think our event, because it's with BMW, has lifted this event to a level of excellence which is just unbelievable.
We've also had a lot stronger tie with the PGA TOUR. Being a part of the FedExCup has been a big bonus for us, and we think that that has provided us the opportunity to have major, major players from around the world that have an opportunity to see the wonderful courses that we have here in Chicago.
The newly designed Dubsdread by Rees Jones, I think you'll have a chance to play that today, and I think you will find that the Jemsek family has put a tremendous amount of money into this course and through Rees Jones has created a situation in which this is not only a world-class golf course but one in which the Jemsek family can be very proud of.
You'll be hearing from Camilo later on in the program, but I'd like to introduce two of our favorite stars that are Hall of Famers. First of all, Stan Mikita from the Chicago Blackhawks. He's really happy today. And Ernie Banks from the Chicago Cubs.
Most importantly I'd like to comment on what the BMW Championship has done for the Evans Scholars Foundation and the Western Golf Association. Last year we were not only named the PGA TOUR Event of the Year, but we also raised in excess of $3 million. If you added up all the dollars that we collect through the Par Club, which has 38,000 members, and the people that contribute to our endowment, I think you would find that we probably are, in terms of total contributions, the No. 1 charity in golf.
The most important thing here is that the total amount of money from this championship goes to the Evans Scholarship Foundation. It supports 865 kids that go through four years of college. They're housed, go to 19 universities around the country, and so we're very, very proud of that.
Before I leave the podium, I would like to acknowledge one person here who's given 21 years of his life to this organization, Don Johnson. He is retiring at the end of the year. I hope you'll give a round of applause for Don wherever he is.
It's my pleasure to introduce a very, very good friend of mine and a very strong partner of the Western Golf Association, Jim O'Donnell, who's the president of BMW of North America. Jim?
JIM O'DONNELL: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I'm trying to be quick because I know you're much more interested in going out and testing the wonderful new golf course that Rees Jones has designed than listening to me. But my PR people are here and I've got to cover a few points so I'll do that.
I'd like to thank John for his kind remarks. We have enjoyed partnership with the WGA. We are proud to be sponsors of this tournament. We don't believe in the nonsense that talked about sponsors and wastes of money in these difficult times. We think that golf gives back in terms of charitable contributions and is very important. And I think it would be much better if some of these politicians engaged their brains before opening their mouths.
Anyway, just talking about politicians, we do have Brian Reaves here, who is the mayor of Lemont. Thank you for attending. Thank you in particular to Camilo Villegas, who has come all the way from Florida today to be with us. It was a great exciting win last year. You've given us some exciting performances since then. We hope you keep it up, and it was ideal to have such a prominent golfer winning the trophy on my left here.
As I said, BMW is proud to be in its third year of its sponsorship. We think that what it allows us to do is to support the Evans Scholars. An education is the dearest gift that anyone to give to their children, and we are proud to help to contribute to that. We take the advantage of being at a nice facility like Cog Hill to offer what we hope to be the best facilities that our customers can enjoy. We offer our customers some special privileges, but we also try and introduce new prospects of the brand.
BMW has 25 years or so of experience in dealing with golf tournaments, but we here in North America want to make sure that within the BMW world that this is the best golf tournament that we stage.
I think John mentioned that currently there are 845 caddies who are enjoying the benefits of a college education thanks to the Evans Scholarship. Three years ago when BMW decided that we would get into bed with the Western Golf Association and PGA, we decided that we'd work hard, and one of our goals was to increase the amount of money that we raise for the sponsorship. I'm glad to say we've done that. In the first year we raised $2.4 million, and last year down in St. Louis, we raised another $3.3.
It's very difficult to predict what the car market is, and I know much more about the car market than charitable giving, but I'd be disappointed if we can't raise another $3 million-plus in 2009.
Another sort of slight innovation that we've introduced this year is that you see in many golf tournaments a hole-in-one, and the guy who gets the hole-in-one or the girl walks away with a nice car. We've put a slightly different twist on it this year, and if there is a hole-in-one scored at the BMW Championship by any of the professionals, what we will do is we will award a scholarship in the name of that professional to another candidate. So I think that's a good innovation, and I think it's something that's supported by the players and by the Western Golf Association and the PGA TOUR.
Today we are lucky that we have with us two students who are benefiting from the Evans Scholarship. I'd like to introduce Joe Forum. Joe is a junior at the Northwestern University. And also Marie Bobak. Marie is a senior at the University of Illinois. Both of these kids worked with us during the summer break at our Chicago regional office.
Golf and BMW, I think, go well together; they're both dynamic sports, they both rely on technology and innovation to continually tweak and improve performance, and we are pleased that so many of our owners are actually interested in golf, as well. I would have thought before I started in this business, that motorsport would have been the key sport activity for BMW customers, but in fact, it's golf, and that's why we spend so much and enjoy spending so much on this wonderful game of golf.
We don't forget the players, either. When the players are here we'll give them a choice of cars to drive. Players, generally speaking, of some of our best customers. I was fortunate last year in the pro-am to play with Padraig Harrington, and I asked Padraig, "How many cars have you got these days?" He says, "Four, Jim. I bought four after I won the British Open Championship." Four BMWs, so not only do they drive our cars, they're fleet operators (laughter).
But all that remains for me to say is that we were delighted last year that in 2008 we won the Best in Class as judged by the PGA for the tournament held during the course of the year. That was the goal, and I'm relying on my partners from the Western Golf Association, the PGA TOUR, to make sure that we again win that trophy in 2009.
Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for your attention. Enjoy the golf this afternoon, or this morning, and you can give your comments to Rees Jones immediately afterwards (laughter).
I'd now like to introduce you to John again.
JOHN KACZKOWSKI: A little housekeeping here. We've got two Evans Scholars on each side of the room. They're wearing caddie bibs, and if you want to ask a question of Camilo or Rees, raise your hand and they'll bring the mike over.
Right now we'd like to bring up one of our featured guests. He's kind of an old 27. He's been a professional now for five years, and he's got a great history with Western Golf in that he was a Medalist at our Western Amateur Championship, had a real breakthrough year last year as a professional, and we're really proud to say he notched his first win as a professional at the BMW Championship in St. Louis last year and then followed it up the very next week with a win at the TOUR Championship, which ended up putting him in second place in the FedExCup standings. He's a wonderful guy, and we're really happy to have him here. Please welcome Camilo Villegas.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Hi, guys. I'm glad to be here. Just looking at those trophies makes me feel pretty excited. Like John was saying, I go back with the Western Golf Association all the way back to the Western Amateur, being a Medalist. Trying to win that trophy was awesome, and they put on a great show. It was one of the best amateur tournaments we played.
I had a chance to go to school, college, Florida, go Gators. And when I decided to turn pro and make golf my life, the Western Golf Association and then the tournament gave me my first invite to a professional event. You don't forget those things.
Then the next year they gave me another invite, and then to make the BMW Championship my first win on the PGA TOUR is very special. Again, I will never forget those things. To BMW, thanks for supporting our game, for supporting this great tournament, part of the playoffs. Trust me, all the players really look forward to coming to the playoffs and giving yourself a chance to win that FedExCup.
It's tough times right now, and for BMW to be here behind us, behind the players, behind the PGA TOUR, behind all the charitable work they do, behind the Evans Scholars Foundation, which is awesome, is great for the game. It's great for us. So again, thanks a lot, and I guess we'll just open it up for questions.
Q. You mentioned tough times these days in golf. How is it tough for the players? How have you noticed differences with the economy?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, to be very honest, we've been lucky as players. The PGA TOUR has done a great job, Commissioner Finchem has worked with us, the players, in terms of providing good service in terms of being very strong in believing in all the charity work the PGA TOUR does and having a very focused plan, which we have. Again, we've been very lucky. We will feel the hard times in the economy, I'm sure, but so far we're just trying to focus on just providing good service and keep doing all the charity work we're doing and providing a good show for the customers and the fans out there. Hopefully we can continue to do that.
Q. Following up on that, have they asked you -- has the TOUR asked you to do more in terms of help dealing with the sponsors, be a little more available? What have you done on that front?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yes, they do. They constantly keep reminding us how important the sponsors are, how important the fans are, and the tough times that the economy is in. Again, like I said, both the players and the TOUR, we're trying to work in conjunction to provide good service, to make it exciting, and just to -- at the end of the day, they can look back at us, the players and the PGA TOUR and say, you know what, we want to invest with them, we want to be with them because they represent the good stuff; they represent something positive for the community, and not only for the community but for all the businesses and all the sponsors that are behind us.
Q. No disrespect to St. Louis, but are you excited to have this back in Chicago?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I am. You know what, I've always enjoyed playing Cog Hill. It was fun to play St. Louis. Obviously I enjoyed playing that golf course. But I've always enjoyed playing Cog Hill, and I'm really looking forward to the changes that Rees made to the golf course. So far I've only heard great things. I'm sure he made it even a little tougher for us. So we'll see. It's always a challenge. The new SubAir system is going to be great. It's going to make the greens a lot more consistent, and not only coming from me but from a lot of players, we all look forward to coming back and seeing the golf course how it is and challenging ourselves.
Q. Being the defending champion at a different course, following up on that, what do you think about the rotating system here? Would you prefer to see the tournament stay in one place every year, one week, and you know what course it's going to be? Do you like the rotating system more like a major style? How do you prefer it?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Again, I enjoy Cog Hill. I enjoy Chicago. The fans out here are great, and I have nothing but good things to say about St. Louis, too. I'm excited to be here for the next three years. Again, I'm excited to see the new golf course, see how it plays. I'm sure it'll keep maturing and getting better year after year. And again, Chicago, the fans, everybody around here makes this tournament one of the biggest tournaments we play all year, and it makes it special for us.
Q. The owners of all the golf courses on TOUR have been working to lengthen the courses, make them tougher for you, including this course, which has gone through a little bit of a lengthening. Do you have the feeling now that maybe we're running up against sort of the outer limits, that maybe somewhere between 7,250 and 7,500 is about as far as we can go? Or how do you feel about the lengthening of these courses in general?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Well, one thing is lengthening and another thing is how the PGA TOUR will go ahead and set up the golf course. You can get both ends. If you have the length there and they want to use it, they can use it. And if they don't, they don't need to. It gives you more options in terms of how you play a golf course.
But to be honest, do I really look at the scorecard and see how long a golf course is? Never. I mean, sometimes I don't even know what the par is (laughter). Seriously, is it 71 or 72? I have to even think about it. I just look at every shot, look at every target and just try to put good swings, because at the end of the day you've got to add your scores, and if you shoot one less than the rest, then you'll take a trophy home.
Q. If I can sneak in a question about the Western Amateur, it's being moved up to Chicago this year and a lot of people don't know about this event. Can you talk about what it meant to you as an amateur to play in that tournament, and going forward it seems like not just yourself but a lot of players have this relationship with the Western Golf Association that started with that event.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, actually in the car I was talking with John about the Western Amateur and the fact that it's moving to a different golf course. Trust me, between all the players in amateur golf, the Western Amateur was one you would never want to miss. It's a great format, 72 holes of stroke play. It's definitely going to give you a chance to have some of the top 16 guys to go and play match play and just get on head-to-head.
Going back to my amateur days, I think I played the Western Amateur three or four times, was a Medalist once, and we had a great time. A great time, a great golf course. They set up good, they treat us so nice, and again, it was one tournament you would never want to miss.
Q. Regarding the golf course, guys have played here -- Tiger and Vijay have played this course and you've played it several times so they knew every putt and which way it broke. Now this year how is it going to -- will it even the playing field because it's relatively new, especially the greens are going to be relatively new?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It'll be different. Practice rounds will be a little more hectic. We've got to do a little more work, and like you said, there's some guys that played this tournament, I don't know, many years. You start kind of knowing where the pins are going to be, you start learning how the putts break, and now you have new greens and you have to do more homework.
Talking from my point of view, I think I do a good job of just checking out the golf courses, making sure I have all the details, so I'll be here as soon as I can and trying to figure it out.
Q. Will using the Spiderman routine help us today reading the greens, and if so, can you have a little clinic for us?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: I don't think so (laughter).
Q. Will you be looking a lot at the course today and the greens? Will you be doing some of that homework today?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Unfortunately I'm not going to play today. I've got to fly back to Florida. I have some other commitments. But we'll be back checking it out. Like I said, I've only heard good things about the job Rees did in redoing all the greens and lengthening the golf course and putting in some extra bunkers and just making it more of a challenge. Not only that, but I heard from a viewer standpoint, it looks unbelievable, just a lot more defined, the shots, and it's nice.
Q. You've been playing Bermuda greens recently. Do you prepare differently for bentgrass? Do you prefer bentgrass over Bermuda? How do you feel about the grass?
CAMILO VILLEGAS: It's just different. We have a chance to play I would say different kinds of grass throughout the year. You go to the West Coast, you play a lot of poa annua, then you go to Florida and play Bermuda, and then you've got the bentgrass greens. It's just different. Do I prefer one or the other? Not really. At the end of the day, you've just got to enjoy the golf course you're playing every week, the hole you're playing every time, and just -- again, just get a good target, put a good swing, get a good read, try to get it in the hole and keep going. It sounds simple but it's not (laughter).
Q. How do you feel about playing public courses versus private courses? Any preference? Do you like the idea of playing more public courses? Like the U.S. Open this year is on a public course.
CAMILO VILLEGAS: Yeah, to be honest, it's fun. Knowing that anybody out there can go and play the golf course where we're competing on a great championship, it's awesome. It gives them a chance to experience what we experience to test themselves and to have fun with it.
Thanks again, guys, for coming.
JOHN KACZKOWSKI: Thank you very much. Next we'd like to hear from the PGA TOUR, and with us today is an executive vice president from the PGA TOUR, and he's the chief of operations, Rick George. Rick?
RICK GEORGE: There's really not a lot I can say after we've had everybody else come up here, so I'll try to be brief. Mr. Mayor, for those of you that don't know, he's been on the job less than 24 hours getting sworn in last night. Congratulations. We're glad you're here.
Also, John and his team do a great job, John Kaczkowski and his team do a great job of running this event. Despite the weather and the rain issues we had last year, they did a terrific job, so I want to make sure I acknowledge John.
Also I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Jim O'Donnell and BMW. They've really elevated this championship. Their involvement, their partnership with the PGA TOUR and the Western Golf Association, we appreciate what you all do for golf but what you also do in allowing us to raise money for charity. So Jim, we appreciate what you and BMW do very much.
Also, I want to acknowledge and thank John Fix, the chairman of the Western Golf Association. Their partnership with the PGA TOUR spans well over 50 years. They've done a great job raising money for the Evans Scholars and for charities, and they're a great partner to be with. So thank you.
As we mentioned earlier, everything I say you've already heard, so I'm going to try to repeat it and repeat it quickly. Don Johnson has provided a tremendous service and dedication to the Western Golf Association for a number of years, and you heard John announce that he's retiring, so Don, I don't know where you are, but thank you for everything you've done. You've been great and you've been a great partner.
And Camilo, we have a lot in common. Our physiques are pretty much the same (laughter). I don't know that I can be as flexible as him reading putts, nor will I be as good. And we also have a commonality in the orange and blue, but mine is Illinois, so go Illini.
I have seen a few Illinois people here, so it's great to be back home. As soon as I walk in I see Dan Roan, who I kind of grew up with in Champaign years ago, and Ed Sherman, who was the writer for the Daily Illini when I played football, so it's nice to see some familiar faces.
I can tell you that our players and the PGA TOUR, we're excited to be back in Chicago. Chicago is one of the great sports towns in the world. You've got legends and icons like Stan and Ernie Banks. What a privilege it is to sit in the room with two icons in sports, and Chicago is such a great sports town, and it's a great golf city. It's been the longtime home of the Western Golf Association, and we're proud and we're excited to be back here.
I can tell you, I talk to our players daily, week in and week out, and I can tell you that they're excited to come back and play Rees Jones' redesign of the Dubsdread course. In fact, Mark Wilson, who lives in Chicago, I think in Hinsdale, has played the golf course recently and has given rave reviews to the players, and he's talked very highly of the changes that you've made, Rees, so I'm looking forward to playing today and hacking it around. We know it's going to be a great test for our players. We think it's going to provide a great stage and great theater for the 2009 BMW Championship.
The PGA TOUR has enjoyed a great partnership with BMW and the Western Golf Association. As was touched on earlier, the primary charity of the championship is the Evans Scholars. The Western Golf Association has raised a lot of money and it's done good work, and you see two of their prized pupils here in front of us. But they've done a lot for the PGA TOUR and for charity in general. They've been a big part of the PGA TOUR's overall effort in raising charitable funds in the cities that we play in. They were a big part last year, $3.3 million as Jim had said, of raising money for charity. The PGA TOUR hit a record of $124 million that it donated back to charities in the cities that we played in last year, and that doesn't take into account what our players do week to week in their individual charities.
Last week the commissioner announced a new initiative that the PGA TOUR is going to undertake. It's called, "Together, anything is possible." We're going to put a renewed commitment and emphasis on the charitable work that we do and we're going to get our players engaged more with their foundations to tell their stories. We're going to tell the Evans Scholars story a little better as we move forward. We're going to launch this in 2010, but it's important to the TOUR that we really elevate the charitable initiative, particularly in these difficult economic times. We think it's important that people understand that the PGA TOUR is a valuable to a community and the economic impact that it has but also in the charitable impact that it has for the communities we serve.
We've had a great tournament the first two years of the BMW Championship. Tiger Woods winning at Cog Hill in 2007 great the tournament a great lift, and then last year in St. Louis, despite the hurricane that came through, and it started in Florida and followed me up to St. Louis where I'm from and stayed there for a while, and the tournament did a magnificent job and Camilo getting his first win really provided great theater for the FedExCup and for the BMW Championship. Just a marvelous tournament.
As has been mentioned, our staff and our rules officials, we all evaluate each tournament, and it was voted the Best in Class amongst all of our tournaments on the PGA TOUR, so it's something that the Western Golf Association, BMW and John and his team should be very proud of.
For this year it's real important for us, and as Jim had challenged John and John and Don and the rest of the group on is to raise money for charity. It's important, and we're asking the community to support it, both the corporations and the fans to come out. We know what a great sports city this is.
The BMW Championship is going to play a very crucial role in the FedExCup. We went through some alterations to our points system this year. As you can recall, last year after the BMW Championship it was pretty much a lock that Vijay had already sewed up the FedExCup. Well, this year it's going to be real important because the way we've restructured our FedExCup points so that we don't reset before the playoffs like we did last year. We reset after the BMW Championship, and it's real important to this championship because it does two things: One, with this new structure, it makes the whole season important because it rewards that player that's played through the season.
The second thing that's important, and the reason this championship is going to get so much visibility is because if you finish in the Top 5 of the FedExCup after the BMW Championship and you go to the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola, if you win there, like Camilo did last year, he guarantees himself a win. So our top players are going to work extremely hard to be in the Top 5 of the FedExCup, and there's going to be a huge emphasis on the tournament here for our players to be in the Top 5 so they can guarantee themselves with a win that they win the FedExCup in Atlanta. So it's going to be great theater and it's going to be a great tournament, and we're looking forward to it.
In closing, on behalf of the PGA TOUR and our players, I want to thank all of you in the room for being here today. Your coverage of golf and your coverage of the BMW Championship is invaluable to us. We appreciate the stories that you tell and the work that you do, and we know it's difficult for you, as well, to pick and choose which sporting events and which news events that you cover, so we appreciate very much you all being here.
I just want to close by saying, Jim, none of us would be here without your support and your commitment to the PGA TOUR, to the Evans Scholars and the Western Golf Association. So thank you very much. Thank all of you for being here. I'll answer any questions, but they don't want me to do it now so I'll do it afterwards if anybody has any questions about the PGA TOUR. Thank you.
JOHN KACZKOWSKI: Rick, thank you very much. Very happy to have you here. Thanks for coming up from Florida today.
Now, literally, this is his first day on the job, so I'd like to welcome the mayor of Lemont, Brian Reaves. Come on up.
BRIAN REAVES: From community television to network television, quite a difference one to another. I've learned quite a bit today. First of all, I don't have to look at my scorecard anymore when I start at a course. I can just go out there and tee off from the No. 1 green and not have to worry about it.
Thanks, everybody, for coming to Lemont. First I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Frank Jemsek and his family for their commitment to excellence in providing the upgrade to Dubsdread and making them the premier golf course in the Chicagoland area. Thanks very much for that. We are proud to be the hometown of Cog Hill and very excited to have the BMW Championship back in Chicago after being gone in 2008.
I look forward to having a great day today, had a great day in September, and again, thank you, everybody, for coming out.
JOHN KACZKOWSKI: Thank you, Brian. Now I'd like to bring up a good friend of not only the Western Golf Association and the Evans Scholars Foundation, but he's a great fan of golf here in Chicago. He made a huge commitment to really redo his golf courses, his pride and joy, and set it up for long-term, for the next 20, 30 years, and he really has made a commitment to hosting tournament golf here in Chicago at the highest level. I'd like to bring up the newest member of the Illinois golf Hall of Fame, the chairman of Jemsek Golf and Cog Hill, Frank Jemsek.
FRANK JEMSEK: I appreciate you all coming. Thank you very much. It's nice to see so many friends and people have been kind to us for a lot of years. Players like Camilo showed us that they were bypassing a lot of our hazards on the golf course, and as I looked around the country and looked at the work people had done, I was most impressed with Rees Jones' work.
The original golf course architect, Joe Lee, who did a great job of, as Rees said, cutting the cloth, so that you could put a good golf course on the property in doing the routing, his favorite architect in the world was Rees Jones. He's mine, also. We tried for a while to convince Rees to come here. We finally succeeded, and he exceeded our expectations. We're happier now than when you said yes, you were going to come and help us. Thank you.
JOHN KACZKOWSKI: I'd like to do the same thing we did with Camilo is we've got microphones on each side of the room. I'd like to call up the architect that did the fantastic job here at Dubsdread, Mr. Rees Jones. Rees?
REES JONES: First of all, I would like to thank Frank and the whole Jemsek family for bringing me in to work on an already great golf course. This job is like a job of yesteryear. The golf course is in a setting that's a classic setting. Dick Wilson and Joe Lee and Frank's father picked this site because the holes fit the grounds so perfectly.
I think that working on this classic golf course and really bringing it into the 21st century has been one of the highlights of my career, especially since it's really for golf. It's for the Chicagoland golfers, it's for the PGA TOUR, it's hopefully to have a U.S. Open someday. But the Jemsek family did this really for the golfers of the land, and that isn't always the case anymore. Many times it's all money-driven.
I'm also very happy to be associated with the BMW Championship. BMW has a wonderful product, and I think it's a real credit to them that last year at Bellerive, a course that I completely redesigned, also, they were awarded the best tournament of the year. It's a reflection on BMW and the BMW brand.
Being associated with the Western Golf Association, I've spoken here in past years. I admire them so much for what they do for young people, for people that start in the game as caddies, as my dad did, caddying for Walter Hagen and George Eastman of Eastman Kodak. I probably wouldn't be here if my father hadn't been a caddie. So I think it's a great start in a working life for a young person, and it's a great thing for the Western Golf Association to help them get their education.
Camilo, I was so happy that you won last year at Bellerive. You won on new greens last year, new contours, and also you won on new greens at East Lake that we completely did the same year, so I think you've got to be the favorite for Cog Hill.
I think the one thing that he said about the length factor, what we're really doing in adding length is we're giving the TOUR officials a better opportunity to be flexible in the setup. It used to be they would mark the tees if they had a 7,000-yard golf course and they'd play from the same tee every day. Now when the weather changes, when the rains like Bellerive come in, they have much more flexibility because we can go from 7,400 to 7,100. We can make some holes shorter on certain days, longer on certain days. I think it's a better test for the best golfers in the world, and that's really why we added the length. We don't expect them to play the total yardage.
What Frank has done here is he's built a golf course that I believe will stand the test of time. We have all the major characteristics of the best construction. Wadsworth Construction Company, who's a local Chicago organization, did the work, and we just were a great team. All of us just working for the Jemsek family, we'd go around every time, we'd have dinner every time, it was just a lot of fun and rewarding for all of us, especially Wadsworth and myself.
We added some length. You'll see some changes. We pushed some of the fairway bunkers out farther because they weren't in play anymore. We eliminated a lot of shorter bunkers that affect the average golfer. We added some bunkers farther out that also gives the TOUR a little chance to move the tee up and have a hazard in play.
We basically have a par-71 golf course. I hope to convince the PGA TOUR to convert 15 to a par-4 because everybody worries so much about the red numbers. So many of the TOUR events are now played at par-70, and I think 15 should be a par-4, and we designed it to be both. But it's a real easy par-5 and it would be a real strong par-4.
Camilo said something I think is very important. It doesn't matter what the par is. When the first hole was converted from a par-5 to a par-4, my father, Robert Trent Jones, did it, and he converted the 18th hole at Oakland Hills. Ben Hogan jumped all over him. He said, how can you do that, that's the hardest par-4, and my father said, I made the hole easier for you, it's shorter, and all that matters is the final score has got to be lower than everybody else. So don't worry about par. I think that's probably some good advice.
Another question you had with Camilo was about the different grasses. These guys are so good, they can putt on poa where it bumps around, but the greens at Cog Hill are going to be absolutely perfect because it's a new strain of grass just like it was at Bellerive, and then he went and won at Bellerive and then goes down to play at East Lake, which is Bermudagrass. So they're good and they're cut tight, and just the improvements of the game have made it so much better for everybody.
I'll be glad to answer some questions. Again, I want to thank the Jemsek family for letting me be part of your family for a while.
Q. The short par-4 seems to be all the rage in golf course architecture, and there's not a short par-4, 300 or under, on here. But in terms of setup, is there a hole out here at the new Dubsdread that could be set up, say No. 7, at 270 or 280 as a par-4 to put a lot of risk-reward options out there?
REES JONES: Well, I redid Bethpage and I also redid Torrey Pines, where we had the opportunity on the 14th hole to make a drivable par-4. You have to have a hazard really near the green like we did at Royal Montreal where we redid that hole, too, where Woody Austin fell in the water. You can't have a short drivable par-4 that doesn't really have any threats. Cog Hill, I suppose you to move the tee to the right and go around the trees on 10, but it doesn't really have a the makings of a drivable par-4.
All the short par-4s or drivable par-4s are converted holes like Torrey Pines was last year, 435, and then made it drivable. It scared Tiger more than it did Rocco because I think Tiger hit it into the canyon a couple times during the practice rounds, and I think he was thinking about that when he laid up on the final round.
Q. So much of the focus is on how the pros are going to play it, and last time I looked there's only one pro in the room, maybe Ernie and Stan count as pros, but the rest of us are going to just ham-and-egg it around. Talk about how you've improved the course and how it's going to impact the guys that come out here and play every day, 15-handicappers like myself?
REES JONES: Well, I don't know if anybody got the printout of the changes we made, but a lot of it is forward tees. We moved a lot of the tees up, especially the most forward tees, and we really did stressed that to make it more playable, more fun. I think the PGA of America is going to have a week this year where they're going to have everybody play off the forward tees, mow all the rough down and put the pins in the center of the green and just let people shoot their record scores.
We took the bunkers farther out so it really helps the average golfer if he doesn't have to contend with all the bunkers that were there from years past that they were now hitting toward or into. The turf on the fairways and the greens is much better. They're going to be able to read them, I think. In essence there's more flexibility, and I think the Jemsek has a lot of flexibility of setting up on any given day.
To the opposite of that, what's so great about Cog Hill is the Dick Wilson and Joe Lee design, like Retreat, we did Royal Montreal over, and he had these little tongues in the greens. You could set it up for the championship and sort of put the pin on the side, and the tongue comes into play, or put it right in the center. Then the average golfer on these greens has a chance to go for the center. You don't always have to for the pin. When I was a kid I went for the pin every time, but now I know better, especially now that I don't hit it as straight.
We have to remember these greens are ample in size and I think have a lot of shot options, so it'll be a lot of fun for the average golfer.
Q. So are you saying it should no longer be called Dubsdread?
REES JONES: That's not up to me.
Q. Did you change the footprint of the greens, or are the greens -- I know there's new greens, but are the greens larger or smaller?
REES JONES: Some are smaller and others we might have added another tongue, which is a little tiny section. We moved the 9th green back a little bit, and I'd say the 15th green has been moved to the right. But for the most part, we really stayed true to the Dick Wilson routing. One of the people said, the original architect cut the cloth like a tailor cuts the cloth very well, and we were able to do the adjustments to make it a golf course of the 21st century. Don't forget, this has been one of the world's great golf courses before I came here, and we just wanted it to stay that way, so that's what our intent was.
Q. What was the thought process behind reinstating the ravine on 13?
REES JONES: Well, I think when you have natural hazards, you really have a chance that we don't have always, because quite often now, we have to stay away from these natural hazards on new designs. So it was just a perfect opportunity, and it's a long ish par-4, and we were able to bring the green toward the hazard a little bit more, much like we did at Bethpage on No. 8. We're going to have the front hole location that goes over water on the course, so it's a real challenge. The front hole location will probably be harder now that we've reinstated the ravine as well as brought the green to it. So it gives more flexibility, more challenge. On any given day, the golf course could be different.
Q. Given your track record and your relationship with the USGA at previous venues, how confident are you that they may award a future U.S. Open to Cog Hill?
REES JONES: Well, Camilo hesitates on a few questions, so I'm going to hesitate on that one because it's really not my choice. We are a U.S. Open venue in my mind. We are capable in every aspect, airports, parking, golf course, fans. We have all the necessities to be a U.S. Open candidate. There's only one a year, and I think eventually the USGA would come here, because they are thinking more in terms of public venues, so I think that puts Cog Hill up on the list.
Q. Following up on that, what is the process? You've already had Mike Davis come in here. And how much lobbying are you doing? I know that you have their ear. I know you're talking about this. What is the process going forward from here to get more USGA people to see this course?
REES JONES: Well, the lobbying, they know how I think. Before I open my mouth they know what I'm going to say.
Frank has sent them a letter. We've gotten the support of the community and sent that to the USGA. So I think they know that the Jemsek family is serious. I know that they -- it really helps the USGA to see BMW put on such a good show here and see the fan support. I mean, generating $3.3 million, that's quite an accomplishment. And then $2.7, I guess, the year before.
I think especially in these economic times, I would think that the PGA of America and the USGA would want to go to places like Chicago that have a fan base that have been longing for a major championship and they can make more revenue at a place like Cog Hill.
Q. How important is scoring? How closely will they be watching the tournament, and will that have any impact, how the PGA TOUR sets up the course compared to the USGA?
REES JONES: That's a good question. I'm not sure. When we redid Torrey Pines they were vying for the U.S. Open there, someone shot 62. He said, "That's the end of the U.S. Open." But they do set it up differently. Torrey Pines set up as a par-72; it was a par-71 for the Open. I think they'll be watching. Mike Davis has been here twice. I think they're very aware of the quality of this golf course. It's a matter of how the TOUR sets it up. That's why I hope that they have No. 15 as a par-4 and make it shorter and easier.
Q. As Cog sets up to make this run at a U.S. Open, how similar or different is it now compared to some of the other courses you've renovated in recent years that have landed Opens?
REES JONES: Well, I think it's very similar to Torrey Pines, which we redid before we landed the Open, and we got the people to come out and see it. I think just the great opportunity is the BMW Championship. I'm not saying that we ever abandon the BMW. They would move out, like they're going to go to Crooked Stick, I guess, in three years, and that's because Medinah is going to have the Ryder Cup that year.
But I think that Chicago should have a major championship every 15 or so years. I think it's like Torrey Pines, like Congressional that we completely rebuilt, Atlanta Athletic Club that we completely rebuilt for the PGA. They come and see it, and they say, oh, my goodness, this is championship quality, and they have done that here. Mike Davis has actually said that to Frank.
Q. On most of the holes did you absolutely length-wise stretch the back tees as far back as they could, or did you actually leave some distance on the table that you could have otherwise added?
REES JONES: We left some distance on the table. I think what Camilo also said, which was very interesting to me, is that total yardage is meaningless. We've got two par-5s that are over 600 yards, and actually they're still reachable for a lot of the PGA pros. But we've got some real finesse holes. You have to have an ebb and flow. You've really got to give the pros a chance to catch up, to make a run, just like last year at Torrey Pines. We decided to make that a par-5 instead of a converted par-4, and that gave a lot of opportunity for the players to still have a chance. Westwood had a chance, Mediate made par and then Tiger made his putt.
I think you really have to have a lot of ebb and flow. That's what you'll see at Bethpage, that's what you're going to see at Hazeltine, and that's what Cog Hill has, so the players know, okay, if I get through this hole, I've got birdie opportunities here, here and here, so total length is not that important, and they don't use it, as Camilo said.
Thank you very much.
JOHN KACZKOWSKI: Rees, thank you very much. Now I'd like to touch a little bit on the golf for today and give you a little bit of the rest of the schedule for the day. But first I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the Chicago District Golf Association and Robert Markionni for letting us use this great facility, the Midwest Golf House, for this press conference. It certainly is a great facility.
I'd also like to recognize a man who probably signed up for more than he realized, but he's the new tournament chairman of the WGA and the BMW Championship. I'd like to introduce Frank Morley. Frank, thanks for joining us.
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