Update: Due to a low amount of sign-ups in the team league, I’m now playing in the individual league instead.
Last year was my first experience playing in the Windy City Golf League. I generally enjoyed playing in the league, though, like most other leagues and league formats, there were some pros and cons (which you can read about in my 2011 Spring season wrap-up post), which I’ll touch on later. This year, while browsing around the Chicago Golf Show with Markus, we stopped by the booth for the Windy City Golf League, and I got to have a nice conversation with the founder, Jason Rotter, about my previous season and the outlook on this year’s league.
If you haven’t read my original post about the Windy City Golf League, let me give you a quick summary about the format (most of this is pulled from the post, and updated accordingly). The Windy City Golf League format revolves around the flexibility of league matches. Instead of playing all of your matches at one course on one day during the week, the league allows you to choose to play your matches at any course, on any day, and any time. You can play anyone in your league flight, as many times as you want, and you can play as many matches throughout the season as you want.
There are two types of formats for the league: the individual head-to-head league and the 2-person team scramble. For the individual league, you are grouped into flights based on your handicap and availability, so you will most likely play people who are around your skill level. Your matches are standard 9- or 18-hole stroke play matches, and you receive points based on how many strokes you win or lose by. For the team league, since the league is relatively new, it is assumed that everyone is scratch golfers, and all teams are placed in the same flight (this will change once the league gets enough teams to create multiple flights). Matches are played in scramble format, and recorded in stroke-play format.
The 12-week league concludes with one final tournament where points can be earned: the Arghe Isle Cup Tournament. To qualify for the tournament, you need to be the points leader in your group, have the highest player rating, or have the lowest adjusted scoring average, though last year, all league members (and even some outside players) were invited to play in the tournament. The overall winner of each flight wins the tournament trophy.
The cost for the league is $60 per person ($120 per team) per season. There are two seasons: the Spring season, which runs from April to July, and the Summer season, which runs from July to October. During the past year, Jason has been working on creating more partnerships and deals with golf courses in the areas. League members get special offers and discounts at some of the popular courses in the area.
I personally love this format, because it allows me to play in a golf league without needing to travel to some course in the suburbs after work on a Wednesday evening to play 9 holes (which, as far as I can tell, seems to be common scenario for standard golf leagues). Though as I mentioned before, much like other golf league formats, there are pros and cons. First, your matches are controlled by other people’s schedules. If your schedule doesn’t match up with someone else’s schedule, you won’t be able to play matches. It’s as simple as that. While you can usually count on somebody being at the course on a preselected day in a standard golf league, that’s just not the case with this league format. Last year, the majority of matches in my flight were played during the weekdays, and that’s just something I couldn’t do. Second, a lot of people who signed up for the league didn’t play a single round throughout the season, which limited the number of people who would actually play rounds. This, of course, is something that you can’t really control or prevent, and it still happens in standard golf leagues. It’s just the nature of a league; people will sign up, but never participate. Lastly, sometimes people just don’t communicate, or people are not available. There were a couple times last year where people were playing matches without asking if anyone else wanted to join, while other weekends, I was free to play matches, but no one else way. Once again, this is not something you can control, and you just have to deal with it.
I wanted to trying something a bit different this season. Markus and I have been playing a lot of rounds together recently (I’m his ride out the golf course), and we also know some people who might be interested in playing in a team golf league. So we decided to join forces (his overall golfing skill level and my good looks) and join the Spring 2-person team league. Our hope is that we can get a good number of matches in on the weekends, which, for scheduling 2-person teams, might either prove easier or more difficult then the individual league.
During my conversations with Jason, he did mention that the Windy City Golf League is gaining more exposure and more partnerships, so the number of players and teams should be rising. Since we still don’t know the total amount of players and teams that have signed up, the idea will still remain that all 2-person teams will be placed in the same flight and everyone is considered a scratch golfer. This might prove difficult to a team like Markus and I, where Markus carries a single digit handicap, and I carry over a dozen golf balls in my bag, so I have enough to last me throughout the round. Maybe Markus and I will be able to keep up with the rest of the teams. He has a long drive and accurate iron shots, and I feel I’m decent at putting.
Since the team league is in scramble format, I’m not going to be able to accurately track my game as I normally do. I’m not a huge fan of this, but at least I can reflect a bit on how I generally played during the match. Playing in this league might also give me a chance to play a couple courses again, which is something I try not to do, but I’m not 100% against it. Sometimes it’s fun to revisit courses, either to see if/how they have changed, or if my game has changed in ways where I take different shots in different situations.