One of the Chicago area’s top private golf courses recently celebrated the completion of a 21-month $6.5 million renovation with a celebratory cannon blast and traditional ribbon cutting ceremony. Course One at Medinah Country Club was reopened with the help of famed golf course architect Tom Doak, who struck the first ceremonial tee shot.
Doak began renovations on the course on October 1, 2012, immediately after the conclusion of the 2012 Ryder Cup. Although the outcome of the event in 2012 was disappointing for fans of the American team, most feel as thought Doak’s efforts on Course One will be received favorably.
Medinah officials hope the renovation will help eliminate the flooding issues that have plagued the course. Doak’s renovation plan required tripling the size of a pond on the course’s 15th hole, removing 770 trees to open up of the middle of the golf course, and changing the sequence of several holes in the process.
“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 Medinah club president Matt Lydon. “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. Moreover, in addition to great golf, Medinah continues to create an atmosphere where the connections of family and friends can be nurtured and appreciated.”
Medinah golf course superintendent Curtis Tyrrell is already happy with the renovation of Course One, which he believes have solved the infrastructure issues, and provided a new course that looks and feels different from the club’s other courses. Though 12 of the 18 holes still are located in the original routing footprint, the character of all 18 holes is new.
“Ultimately… it’s not just a change in the sequence of the holes, but the fact that we had to start going diagonally between some of the old hole corridors and knock down a [significant number of] trees in the middle, that’s the biggest change on the golf course,” Doak said. “Now, when you get out in the middle of the course, it’s very open as opposed to very narrow and north and south and tree lined. That’s the biggest change, and that was just sort of a byproduct of having to change that one [15th] hole.”
Though 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 its world-class No. 3 sibling.
“With the renovation of Course One, members are going to have three distinctly different golf courses members and their guests can play,” said Medinah greens committee chairman Bruce D’Angelo, who oversaw the project. “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, renovated by Tom Doak, currently one of the world’s most highly regarded golf course architects.”
Medinah Country Club is the Chicago area’s best known and most frequent major championship venue. 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. Medinah’s champions include such historic figures as “Lighthorse” Harry Cooper, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Gary Player, Hale Irwin, and Tiger Woods.
Founded in the 1920s by a group of Shriners, Medinah features three golf courses, all designed by the legendary golf course architect Tom Bendelow. In addition Medinah, one of Tom Bendelow’s most popular designs was the Atlanta Athletic Club’s 18-hole course at East Lake Golf Club, which is the permanent home of the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.