Local Knowledge: 2013 BMW Championship

Luke Donald
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While Conway Farms may be a mystery to most players in this week's BMW Championship, that won't be the case for Luke Donald. He's a member at the course.
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: Local Knowledge

Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013 | 7:59 a.m.

The BMW Championship -- the third leg of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup -- takes place this week just outside Chicago at Conway Farms.

This will be a new challenge for most of the players teeing it up, as they'll be seeing a course that's never before hosted a PGA Tour event. That won't be the case, however, for Luke Donald.


Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Ill. is the venue for this week's BMW Championship. Have you played there? If so, click on the course names to write a review of your experience. Also, be sure to check out our PGA.com Course Guide to review all the courses you've played and to find the perfect course for your next round.

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Donald went to school at Northwestern, makes his home in Chicago and is a member at Conway Farms, which could prove to be a huge advantage.

Before the start of the tournament, we had a chance to chat with Conway Farms PGA Head Professional Harlan Chemers to learn a little more about the course.

PGA.com: Thanks for joining us, Harlan. This will be our first good look at Conway Farms, a magnificent Tom Fazio design that reminds us of something we'd likely see on the other side of the Atlantic. Can you tell us a little about the course and what makes it so unique?

Chemers: Glad to be here. I've been at Conway 20 years, and I can honestly say it is one of the most enjoyable golf courses I've had the opportunity to play. Each hole is distinguishable from the others. Being a links style golf course, it offers great vistas throughout the course without interaction from adjacent holes. You feel as if you are alone on the golf course. Most importantly, the course lends itself to enjoyment and challenge for players at any skill level. At the club level, the experience at Conway is second to none. We are an all-walking club with an outstanding caddie program, which makes the round special for the members and their guests. You will never tire of the golf course or each day's experience.

PGA.com: What do you think the scoring will be like for the BMW Championship? Is there a certain stretch of holes where players will need to make their birdies? Or, is this a place where par is your friend?

Chemers: The players are so skilled and the golf course is in such great shape that only weather, specifically wind, will limit their birdieing ability. The holes that are difficult for the members will offer the most challenge to the pros also. These are holes 4, 5, and 6, and the finishing stretch of 16, 17 and 18. Scoring is projected at 13 to 17 under depending on the wind strength and its direction.

PGA.com: PGA Professionals wear many hats. For you, I'm sure it's been very hectic with all the planning for the BMW Championship. Can you tell us a little about the tasks you've had outside of the norm in preparing to host the BMW?

Chemers: The Western Golf Association (WGA) headed by John Kaczkowski, President (a fellow Badger) and Vince Pellegrino, Vice President, Tournaments are leading the tournament. Being the FedExCup, and BMW the sponsor, everything must be perfect. The way the WGA goes about all aspects of the tournament preparation is impressive. I've learned so much about taking a large task and breaking it down into all the smaller parts. It is delegating and communicating that becomes most important. I have found avenues through social media, specifically Twitter (@hmangolf67), to help with the process and documenting day to day operations.

PGA.com: What's your favorite hole at Conway Farms and why?

Chemers: That's a difficult question. No. 5 is our No. 1 handicap hole and lives up to its ranking, but personally No. 16 is probably my favorite. It's an uphill par 4, 466 yards dog leg left. The green is uphill and blind so it is hard to get a good feeling of where the pin is located. If it's into the wind, it's a monster! A huge drive and you can still be left with a long iron or hybrid. Fazio's team came in a couple years ago to add runoff areas throughout the course for the U.S. Mid-Am (2012) and this year's BMW Championship. If you miss the green left, you will be faced with a shot uphill off of a tight lie. I don't have that shot!

PGA.com: Last thing for you, Harlan. What are you most looking forward to as you host the PGA Tour this week?

Chemers: Seeing Conway Farms on TV, and getting the notoriety it deserves as a great golf course and club is most important. Interacting with the best players in the world and watching them play will be amazing. Luke Donald is a member and I've known him since he came to Northwestern for college, and nothing would be more exciting than seeing him win!

Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.