LAKE FOREST — A field of 156 amateurs, many from the North Shore, joined 52 of the world’s best professional golfers for a round at Conway Farms Golf Club the day before the BMW Championships began.
The amateurs joined professionals such as Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in the annual Pro-Am preceding the opening of the BMW tournament on September 13 at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, netting more than $1 million for the Evans Scholars Foundation.
The groups ranged from business colleagues, longtime friends and family members sharing a round with professionals who are the world’s 70 highest ranked.
One of those groups included brothers Bill Terlato and John Terlato of Lake Forest and Tony Terlato, Bill Terlato’s son, who grew up in Lake Forest but now lives in Chicago. All three are part of the Terlato Wine Group, a family owned company based in Lake Bluff that owns vineyards and wineries worldwide and imports, exports and markets wine. They said all of the wine sold and served at the tournament is a Terlato brand.
Both Bill Terlato and John Terlato have played in several pro am tournaments. “All this helps the Evans Scholars,” said Bill Terlato. “We’ve been doing this a long time and we want to help in any way we can.”
The Terlatos played with Russell Henley, the world’s 23rd ranked golfer according to the Fed Ex Cup standings.
Tony Terlato, who joined the company in January, was playing in his first pro-am.
“I was a little nervous at first,” Tony Terlato said of playing with Henley. “He was really great to play with. He encouraged us and told us when we hit good shots.”
While BMW is the tournament’s corporate sponsor, the tournament is run by the Western Golf Association Evans Scholars Foundation based in Golf, near Glenview. The foundation is funding the college education of more than 900 students.
Entry to the tournament required a minimum donation of $11,000 from an individual or $31,500 for a group of three. Some of the amateurs contributed more.
Amateurs who chose to go the pairing party held early in tournament week got to pick their pro through a lottery, according to John Terlato. They took Henley when it was their turn. Those who are not in attendance are assigned a professional partner by the WGA when their ping pong ball is drawn
Ted Koenig of Highland Park played with Keegan Bradley, the world’s 48th ranked player. Koenig said he is a customer of The Private Bank and played as the company’s guest. He too was a little nervous and was wowed by the way Bradley hit the ball.
“When their ball comes off the club you hear it sizzle,” said Koenig. “I just focused on my game and had fun.”
Koenig said he gave no tips to Bradley, and the pro did not try to alter the games of the amateurs.
Ron Bliwas of Highland Park entered the tournament as a guest of Craig Duchossois. The two have played in several pro-am tournaments together over the years. They played with Justin Rose, the world’s 17th ranked player. They did offer tips to each other.
“He gave us a few tips, said Bliwas. “I told him some restaurants to try,” he added when asked what advice he offered Rose.
Rodrick Cappiello of Wilmette, who played with 39th ranked Tony Finau, was living a dream, according to his wife, Gretchen Capiello. She said he got the opportunity to play through his company, CDW. Gretchen Capiello made it a family affair.
“I took the kids out of school so they could see their dad play,” said Gretchen Capiello. “We saw Sergio (Garcia) and he signed my son’s ball,” she added pointing to an oversized golf ball the boy carried to collect autographs.
BMW also added to the donations for the Evans foundation. The company contributed $50,000, according to an email from the WGA.
The professionals continue competing through September 17.