By Jeff Holt
Published April 1, 2021 in The Burg
MACOMB - A die-hard golfer will travel the extra mile to play a certain course. Galesburg native Don "Gillie" Gillenwater would, occasionally, travel to Aledo to play what was Hawthorne Ridge. You would also hear other people traveling to Burlington, Iowa to play Spirit Hollow Golf Course.
You might want to add one more to your list: The Harry Mussatto Golf Course, located just north of the Macomb campus at Western Illinois University and it is open to the public.
"Harry Mussatto is a unique course that has what I think of as two very distinctly different nines," said Lia Biehl Lukkarinen, an LPGA and PGA Class A Golf Professional with over 20 years of teaching and coaching experience. "You get to experience terrain changes, water, native grasses and undulating greens - a true challenge. You have to hit all the shots here, there aren't many easy holes."
One of the most popular holes of the Harry Mussatto Course is No. 2, especially for ones who went to school at Western. You can actually see the campus when you tee off.
"Hole No. 2 is definitely a feature hole on the course," said Biehl Lukkarinen. "A beautiful Par five with water on the right, OB and trees on the left and a narrow green. Being able to see the WIU campus in the background really ties it all together. We are lucky to have a championship golf course and practice facility on our campus."
Biehl Lukkarinen, in her 15th year of coaching at WIU, is currently coaching both the Leatherneck women's and men's golf teams.
And she's made the most of it with the pandemic.
"It's been a difficult situation, not being able to compete or travel as usual," said Biehl Lukkarinen. "Both teams were playing well in 2020 when we got grounded for nearly a year. However we are back in action now and looking forward to the rest of our season."
Biehl Lukkarinen said that
she has always admired Annika Sorenstam's technique and very strong mental game. Sorenstam won 90 international tournaments as a professional, making her the female golfer with the most wins to her name.
On her radar to play ... Biehl Lukkarinen was asked - if she could play any course in the world - what would it be?
"I was fortunate to have traveled quite a bit on the tour, but I would like to make it to Scotland and play St. Andrews," she said.
To the WIU alums: Not to be overlooked is a new state-of-the-art clubhouse that has been a huge hit so far. They do have the best WIU golf apparel in the clubhouse and Ping Club Fitting.
And Biehl Lukkarinen, who also wears the hat of Director of Golf at Western, would love to see more WIU alums make the drive down to the Leatherneck golf course in Macomb.
"We offer a fantastic experience at a great price," she said. "Come enjoy the course, clubhouse and have a beverage on the patio!"
"I'd like every golfer to 'find their game' to maximize their enjoyment on the golf course," she said, on their website, under the category of Lessons.
But then recently, Biehl Lukkarinen did go on to say, "I would recommend getting quality instruction from a PGA or LPGA professional as a start. Then have fun with it! Golf is a lifelong sport."
Reminder ... be sure to see the ad below (on this page) of WIU's Harry Mussatto Golf Course.