The Illinois Valley Women’s Golf Invitational marks its 60th anniversary this year. For the first time, it comes to Wyaton Hills Golf Course in Princeton.
Wyaton Hills will welcome golfers from nine courses around the Illinois Valley, including locals Spring Creek, Edgewood Park, Green River, Mendota GC and Wyaton Hills.
Longtime Wyaton Hills owner Max Halberg is excited to bring the event to his home course.
“It’s the first time ever for being here and on top of that, it’s the 60th. That’s kind of cool,” Halberg said.
“It’s like full circle for me, because Mary Dagraedt, one of the original starters of it, she’s the one who taught me to play golf back when I was a little shaver out here when she first started coming up in this area. So that’s kind of cool.
“She was my mentor. I’ve always admired her. She’s a great gal.”
Wyaton Hills has been in the rotation to host the tournament, but never had enough interest from their women to field a full team before.
“Now we have group of ladies that are interested in playing in it. Before we’d have 1-2 that would play and represent us in the tournament,” Halberg said. “Last year, I said, ‘Girls if you’re interested, it was our turn, I need volunteers, we’d be glad to host it. They said they would, and we decided to go ahead and jump in.”
Halberg said they’ve been busy getting the course spiffed up for the tournament, adding, “hopefully the weather will hold out.”
There were 35 golfers signed up to play as of Monday afternoon, Halberg said, but he was expecting those numbers to grow to as many as 45 with the addition of Spring Creek’s team and at-large players.
“A lot of the ladies have been out to practice the last couple of weeks, so it’s been fun to watch them,” said Halberg, noting those golfers have quickly discovered why they call it Wyaton “Hills.”
As an 18-hole stroke play tournament, golfers will play two rounds on the 9-hole Wyaton course with a second set of tees for the “back” 9. First golfers will go off at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Cathy Verhulst of Prophet Hills (Prophetstown) is the defending champion. Prophet Hills, which joined the tournament in 2016, is the two-time defending team champion.
Any Illinois Valley area golf club within a 50-mile radius of South Bluff Country Club (Peru) may be invited to participate. Other participating clubs are Deer Park, Morris CC and Senica’s Oak Ridge.
Tee times will be announced later this week.
Chip shots: Baley Lehr of Ottawa won the Illinois Valley Men’s Golf Championship Sunday at Deer Park Golf Club in Oglesby.