Curtis Malm used to dominate this event… and now he’s taking a swing at planning it.
Curtis Malm’s journey through golf has brought him here – on the verge of hosting the Illinois Open at White Eagle Golf Club
Curtis Malm and his Golf Journey
Growing up, playing at Springbrook, Malm’s golf journey began as a kid learning the game with his family before flourishing in high school.
Once at Naperville Central, he took off.
“My freshman year, I got moved up to varsity at the end of the year and ended up winning the conference championship as a freshman. So I knew then that I had something I could do.”
Malm subsequently won the conference championship each year in high school – leading him to the University of Colorado in 1996.
“My first college tournament I actually qualified to play as the top, number one seed in Colorado and got paired up with Rory Sabbatini down in Arizona. So that was kind of an eye opener right away that he came out and whooped me up a little bit. Knew I had a long ways still to go.”
By the time he was a junior, he nearly felt ready to turn pro. Then came the Illinois Open in 1999.
Illinois Cup in 1999
“Ended up winning the Illinois Open that summer [before senior year]. So I thought I was set. I already played with all these guys in college, my game was right there with them, come back and win the Illinois tournament, which is a huge tournament… thought I was going places.”
Taking time away from school, Malm played in the mini-tours that winter and had a little success. But cash became an issue… at least, until a few years later, when two sponsors stepped in to give him a true shot at his Tour Card.
Trying to Turn Pro
“Went to Q school and made it through the first stage, which was awesome. Then made it through the second stage. And then all of a sudden you’re in third stage of Q school. Top 35 guys get their tour card and then next 50 get Nationwide Tour Cards.”
One stroke away, Malm finished 37th. The Nationwide tour was the next and eventual final stop in his playing career.
“Being on the road for 42 weeks, it wears you out. I went back to try it again the next year, didn’t make it. And that was it.”
Curtis Malm Since Nationwide Tour
Malm would go on to win Illinois Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013 playing in Illinois PGA events, as well as getting inducted into the Naperville Central Hall of Fame.
But now it’s his turn to administer the test in the form of a renovated White Eagle Golf Course
“It’s going to play really tough and it’s going to be one of the best Illinois Opens that the state has put on. Even through the crazy pandemic and interesting 2020 that we’ve had.
The event will run from August 3rd through 5th.
Reporting for Sports Story Sunday, I’m Kevin Jackman