A cannon blast marked “the beginning of a new era” at the 90-year-old club following a 21-month, $6.5 million project that addressed persistent flooding issues.
Medinah (Ill.) Country Club’s Course One was officially reopened on June 13, following a 21-month, $6.5 million renovation at the renowned property outside of Chicago.
The renovation, by course architect Tom Doak, began only 13 hours after the conclusion of the Ryder Cup competition on the club’s championship No. 3 course in October 2012.
Initiated as a way to address persistent flooding issues, Doak’s Course One renovation plan required a tripling of the size of a pond on the course’s 15th hole, removal of 770 trees to open up the middle of the golf course, and changing the sequence of several holes in the process.
“We had to start going diagonally between some of the old hole corridors and knock down a [significant number of] trees in the middle,” Doak said. “Now, when you get out in the middle of the course, it’s very open as opposed to very narrow and tree-lined.”
While Medinah No. 3 always has been the club’s championship course, Course One has been a favorite of members and their guests, especially those seeking an alternative to the difficult challenge of No. 3.
“With the renovation of Course One, members are going to have three distinctly different golf courses that they and their guests can play,” said the club’s Greens Committee Chairman, Bruce D’Angelo. “They will be able to choose from a traditional tree-lined, parkland-style Rees Jones-renovated championship course in No. 3; Tom Bendelow’s No. 2 course, which never has been renovated since it came on line in the late 1920s, and the new Course One.”
Medinah’s Golf Course Superintendent, Curtis Tyrrell, said the Course One renovation not only solved the infrastructure issues, but also provided a new course that looks and feels different from the club’s other courses and from the one it replaced.
Though 12 of the 18 holes are located in the original routing footprint, the character of all 18 holes is new. “The 12 existing holes stayed in the same footprint,” said Tyrrell, “but they’re brand new holes.”
A new generation of “007” creeping bentgrass has been planted across all tees, greens and fairways, while the rough areas are now a mixture of bluegrass (in sunny areas) and fescue (in the shade). ”The different type of grasses in the rough areas will give Course One a more mottled look and a very natural feel,” Tyrrell said.
The reopening of Course One was marked by a ceremonial tee shot by Doak, followed by a celebratory cannon blast. “Tom Doak’s innovative renovation of Course One and this evening’s ceremonial re-opening signals the beginning of a new era in the history of Medinah Country Club,” said Matt Lydon, Medinah’s current President. “Medinah’s stature as the host of the world’s most prestigious championships now is elevated by the addition of a new and different style Course One.
“Together, along with our wonderful No. 2 course, Medinah offers its members a variety of golf experiences unparalleled in the Chicago area,” Lydon added. “Moreover, in addition to great golf, Medinah continues to create an atmosphere where the connections of family and friends can be nurtured and appreciated.”
Founded in the 1920s by a group of Shriners, Medinah three golf courses were all originally designed by Tom Bendelow.
Medinah’s Course No. 3 has hosted three U.S. Opens (1949, ’75, and ’90), two PGA Championships (1999, 2006), three Western Opens (1946, ’62, and ’66), and other prestigious events in the pre-PGA Tour era. Champions at tournaments held at Medinah include such historic figures as “Lighthorse” Harry Cooper, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Gary Player, Hale Irwin, and Tiger Woods.