This year’s BMW Championship site, Conway Farms, is the newest of the bunch. The Tom Fazio design was built in 1991 in Lake Forest, Illinois, just northwest of Chicago near the Wisconsin border. Conway Farms lacks the tradition of some of the other courses in the BMW rota, but its elbowed its way into hosting bigger and bigger events as its matured.
Conway Farms welcomed the men’s NCAA Division I Championship, in the 1990s, the Western Amateur in the 2000s and most recently snagged the 2013, 2015 and 2017 BMW Championship.
The 7,198-yard, par-71 track is distinctive for its heather, fescue and small greens. Though it plays more like a traditional parkland style course, the course’s aesthetic hearkens some to Scottish links golf as designed by Fazio and company. The club’s ban on motorized carts adds to the old school feel.
Zach Johnson reached 16-under to win here in 2013 and Jason Day tied the then tournament record (since broken by Dustin Johnson in 2016 at 23-under) at 22-under in 2015. Jim Furyk also shot 59 in the second round at Conway Farms in 2013.
Scoring is expected to be low again this year, but that’s just fine with tournament director Vince Pellegrino.
“It’s not going to be the most difficult course they play, but they won’t tear it up — and it’s not bad for TV and for the people on the grounds to see birdies and eagles,” Pellegrino told the Daily Herald in 2013. “We encourage that. That’s OK, but it’ll be a good challenge for the best players in the world.”
If it’s close down the stretch, fans can look forward to the reachable par-5 595-yard closing hole guarded by a creek running in front of the green.
Good scoring and tapping into the Chicago market that’s without a regular Tour stop (RIP the Western Open) are a couple things that are easy to get behind. I wouldn’t advocate for Conway Farms to be the sole host site, or even alternate years as it’s been for a stretch, but it’s worthy of a spot in the rota.