The PGA TOUR will visit a new venue for the third event of the FedExCup Playoffs. Conway Farms in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, Ill., has hosted the NCAA Championship and multiple U.S. Golf Association events, but this week's BMW Championship will be the course's first PGA TOUR event.
The top 70 in the FedExCup advanced to the BMW Championship, which begins Thursday. Some in the field may have seen the course at the 1997 NCAA Championship, the 1998 U.S. Junior Amateur, the 2009 Western Amateur or one of the other prestigious amateur events the course has hosted, but many will be seeing Conway Farms for the first time this week.
Conway Farms opened in August 1991, and was built on farmland that straddled Conway Road. The course is dedicated to the protection and preservation of the game, encouraging walking, fast play and support of amateur golf.
“It’s got a lot of variety in the holes,” said Mark Wilson, who lives in Elmhurst, Ill. “There’s some holes (with) not many trees, just some fescue grasses, and then all of a sudden you have a few holes that are through the trees, so it has a good variety.”
Tom Fazio, the course’s architect, left some holes exposed to Conway Farms’ near-constant wind. “Whenever I play there, the wind’s blowing and it makes it pretty tough,” Wilson said. Several holes are virtually treeless and are lined by fescue grass, an homage to Scottish links golf. Other holes have a more classic parkland feel, playing through thick strands of trees.
There’s also variety in the length of Conway Farms’ holes, especially its par-4s. Two par-4s – Nos. 7 and 15 – can be made drivable, but players who go for the green will encounter plenty of risk. Five par-4s are 450 holes or longer. "Fifteen will be fun," said Luke Donald, who calls Conway Farms his home course. "It has a couple pot bunkers around the greens and it's just a fun hole."
Conway Farms’ par-5s can be reached in two for players who want to take chances. The 600-yard eighth hole curls left around a lake. Players trying to reach the green in two shots will have to avoid several deep pot bunkers that guard the putting surface. A creek twice crosses the fairway of the par-5 18th, which also can be reached in two shots.
Three of the par-3s are longer than 195 yards, while the 11th hole is just 162 yards but requires players to hit a precise tee shot to a small green protected by water
“It’s got some long holes, some short holes,” Wilson said. “I think any kind of player could do well there.”
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