2006: Medinah could yield scoring ambush
By Bradley S. Klein
For those who think narrow, tree-lined fairways are the paradigm of good course design, Medinah Country Club’s No. 3 course is an icon. For others who are keen on strategic variety and a nuanced aesthetic of vistas and playing textures, there is no more boring example of architecture in America than this long parkland layout in suburban Chicago.
For the PGA Championship, Aug. 17-20, Medinah certainly will be in better shape than it was during the 1999 PGA, when searing heat and humidity baked the greens to a crisp. Superintendent Tom Lively, CGCS, who came on board in 2001, has overseen a drastic clearing out of hundreds of trees that shaded greens. Working with architect Rees Jones, Medinah also has rebuilt (and partially repositioned) bunkers, seven greens and regrassed all putting surfaces with A1/A4 bentgrass. The club also has added some new back tees, bringing the total to 7,561 yards for this par 72.
Jones’ most significant and successful renovation has been to move the par-3 17th hole from up the hill back down to the water’s edge. He also tightened the bunker pattern of fairway and greenside hazards. On three holes – the first, third and eighth – he eliminated (partially) blind shots by cutting down cross slopes, in the process creating straight horizon lines out of place on such modestly rolling land.
Medinah has length. What it doesn’t have is a lot of trouble around (or on) the greens. The modestly sloped greens don’t unduly punish approaches that are short-sided. With the par 5s vulnerable and little trouble elsewhere, expect lots of low rounds and a tight bunching of the field.