(CBS Pittsburgh/cbs local)- Muirfield Village Golf Club welcomes the PGA Tour in Dublin, Ohio this week as the Memorial Tournament, presented by Nationwide, returns to its normal place on the calendar in 2020 after being moved to July due to COVID-19 cancellations.
Since the tournament’s inception in 1976 – and since the course’s opening two years ago – it has earned a stellar reputation. And the PGA Tour field attracts Dublin, Ohio every year that reflects.
But the Muirfield Village Golf Club and Memorial Tournament has its origins in 1966, when, just before the start of that year’s Masters tournament, legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus told a good friend, Ivor Young, that he wanted to start an event. In Columbus that would be exceptional as the Masters. A few months later, Young found a densely wooded, rolling tract in what was then rural Dublin, which Nicklaus identified as an area where he once hunted and hunted with his father.
After several years of acquiring the property, construction began on July 28, 1972. And although Nicklaus got some assistance from Ohio’s partner, renowned architect Pete Dye, and land planner Desmond Muirhead, the end product was the work of Jack. Their refinement over the years has cemented Muirfield’s reputation as one of the world’s finest strategic designs.
“It’s a beautiful site. When I saw it, I loved the way it flowed through the valleys, and I knew I wanted to build a gallery golf course. The valleys were there to accommodate that goal. were quite wide,” said Nikos, whose design philosophy came from several sources, but notably, from the Scioto Country Club, his home course in Columbus, designed by Donald Ross. “I can’t say I was a golf course designer because I didn’t have much experience. I just liked the property. When it came to designing the curriculum, it was all about finding the best areas. Two creeks used to come together at one end of the property, which is where the creeks come down at 11 and 15 today. We had another creek that came down where the second hole is now, coming down from the fifth hole. That creek exits through a third hole, providing drainage for the property. I just worked myself back through those valleys. “
The design was not only strategically sound, but in a sense unprecedented. Nicklaus combined the layout with a feature he called “amphitheatering”, or mounds on the perimeter of the playing areas, which offered unobstructed views to patrons. The Players Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass, designed by Dye, is often credited with introducing the concept of stadium golf, but Muirfield Village predates TPC Sawgrass by two years.
“I was there in the beginning, but it’s incredible what he’s done, how he’s modified it, made it stronger with the kind of shots you have to hit,” Dye said. “They’ve made it one of the best golf courses you’ll find anywhere.”
Indeed, as the years passed, Nicklaus succeeded in developing the golf course. Some changes have been significant, such as the redesign of the 17th hole in 2002 and the 16th hole in 2011 in preparation for the 2013 President’s Cup. The layout of the Par-72 was just 6,969 yards when it opened on Memorial Day in 1974, but today it is 7,392 yards.
golf digest The course is ranked in the top 20 in America and, of course, is supported by players, not to mention golf’s governing bodies. Muirfield Village Golf Club is the only venue in history to host the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and President’s Cup. The US Golf Association has also found its way to many of its national championships, including the 1992 US Amateur.
Nicklaus hasn’t tinkered with Muirfield Village much since the President’s Cup. But he always keeps a critical eye on how it plays out every year, as professional golfers get bigger and stronger and push the golf ball further.
“Over the years I’ve made a lot of changes, some for the sake of the members, some to improve the spectator experience, and some to make the golf course a better and stronger test,” said Nicklaus, who founded his own event. Won twice, in 1977 and ’84, victories he cherishes as much as his 18 major professional titles. “I’ve spent a ton of time here, but I haven’t changed the course fundamentally. Like any designer, I want the course to look good, and be able to hold up against the best players in the game, so I shot Have tried to find ways to preserve the values. Muirfield Village, basically the same course that opened in 1974. It’s still a course where keeping the ball in the proper areas is more important than power. I think That’s what makes golf more exciting.”
Nicklaus still focuses on what is, how the course is likely to play out when the game’s best players land in Central Ohio.
“Obviously, Muirfield Village is something that means a lot to me,” he said a few years ago. “What it represents is my total vision as it pertains to a golf course, a club and a tournament. We have come a long way with this, and to have a dream and fulfill it is a good thing.”
Columbus, Ohio journalist and author David Shedlowski has been covering golf since 1986, first as a daily newspaper reporter and later as a freelance writer for various magazines and Internet outlets. Winner of 23 National Writing Awards, including 20 for golf coverage, Shedlowski is currently a contributing writer for Golf World and GolfDigest.com and serves as editorial director of The Memorial, the official magazine of the Memorial tournament in Dublin, Ohio. He is the author of three books and has contributed to three others, including the second edition of “Golf for Dummies” with Gary McCord. He is a fan of all Cleveland professional sports teams, poor fellow.
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