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Local Sports

The insider: Rolfing got LPGA to look at Rich Harvest Farms

DeKALB - History wasn't on the side of Rich Harvest Farms.

With the potential location of the Solheim Cup narrowed down to three courses, NBC Sports golf analyst Mark Rolfing planted a seed to then LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw.

Rolfing, a DeKalb native, had been playing Rich Harvest Farms for seven years. In 2004 he started to make two trips a year from his home in Hawaii to the Sugar Grove course and got to know owner Jerry Rich very well.

He knew Rich wanted to bring a huge event to his course and had a commitment and passion to grow the game of golf. So Rolfing, who thought a US Open would be a bit too much for Rich Harvest Farms, began to tell Votaw about Rich's course.

"I knew Jerry could rally the troops in this area if he got something," Rolfing said. "The Midwest area has become fertile ground for major events and to get a US Open they would be going head to head with Wisconsin with Whistling Straits and Erin Hills. That would be a tough go."

Making things even more challenging for Rich Harvest Farms, a course ranked No. 45 on Golf Digest's Top 100 American Golf Courses, was the lobbying being done on the behalf of the other two Solheim Cup finalists.

Juli Inkster owns seven major titles and was lobbying Pasatiempo Golf Club in California designed by legendary architect Alister MacKenzie who also designed Augusta National and Cypress Point.

Dottie Pepper owns two major titles and is Rolfing's colleague at NBC. She lobbied for Oak Hill in Rochester, NY which has a rich tradition of hosting PGA Championships and US Opens.

"Rich Harvest Farms was a dark horse," Rolfing said. "Very quickly however, Mr. Rich convinced the LPGA that the course could pull of this event."

The Solheim Cup takes place in what Rolfing said is "the perfect window." Sandwiched a week after the PGA Championship and a week before the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, it arrives before football season and will be the biggest event on the sports calendar this weekend.

"First of all you need a guy like Jerry Rich who is going to do whatever it takes to pull it off," Rolfing said. "I was there a month ago and he was worried about bad weather. So all the remote parking lots got paved. Originally they would just have a gravel entrance to a field but he didn't want to take any chances.

"I knew whatever it was that had to happen - and no one knew until they got in and rolled up their sleeves what was going to happen - that he would do it. Once the thing exploded from a ticket sales standpoint they had to deliver and they did."

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