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Medinah (No.3)

Medinah, Illinois
Medinah, Illinois

Medinah Country Club played host to the 2012 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Europe. Team Captains were Davis Love III (US) and José María Olazábal (Europe). Dubbed the “Miracle of Medinah” by commentators, the 39th Ryder Cup equalled the biggest singles comeback in Ryder Cup history. Team USA required only 4½ singles points to win, but dressed in the colours of the late Seve Ballesteros, the European team found spirit to dramatically win the first five singles games. Europe then added two further points to lead by one with three matches remaining. Remarkably it was Martin Kaymer (left out all day on Saturday) who secured the point Europe required to smash the away team comeback record. Europe 14 ½ - USA 13 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at Celtic Manor in 2010 and will be played at Gleneagles in 2014.

The Shriners, or the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, are an association not unlike the Freemasons and we have to thank the local Order – who came from the Chicago Medinah Temple – for realising their dream country retreat, which is now known all over the world as the Medinah Country Club.

Medinah was first founded in the Roaring Twenties and the objective was to create the finest country club in America. 54 holes were planned, and the first course, simply called No.1, was ready for play in 1925. The second course, unsurprisingly called No.2, followed behind a year later. We’ll give you one guess as to what the third course was named, but most people won’t know that it was originally laid out for the Medinah ladies. No.3 course was ready for play in 1928 and much has changed since then.

Tom Bendelow, a Scotsman, laid out all three Medinah courses but his No.3 design did not last long. The original layout was considered too easy after Harry Cooper shot a 63 in the 1930 Medinah Open, and so the course was refashioned and toughened up in the 1930s by Harry Collis. Further changes were made by Roger Packard and Roger Rulewich ahead of the 1988 US Senior Open, which Gary Player won. In 2002 by Rees Jones made further fortifications and he also spearheaded renovations to the No.3 course as part of the club’s 2012 Ryder Cup preparations. The work included greens renovation and a dramatic redesign of the 15th hole, which is now a driveable par four sporting a new lake. We're also led to believe that George Fazio made changes to the layout somewhere along the line.

Lake Kadijah is a pretty backdrop to a number of holes but it also doubles up as an intimidating water hazard at three par threes, the 2nd, the 13th and the 17th, all of which require a forced carry across the water – the 17th is perhaps the best hole on the course. Vicious doglegs feature on a number of par fours (most notably the 9th and the 11th) where an accurate tee shot will reap more benefit than sheer length.

Three US Opens have been held on the No.3 course and Tiger Woods acquired his fifth major here in the 1999 PGA Championship. The 88th PGA returned to Medinah in 2006. Tiger claimed his 12th career Major title after destroying the rest of the field on Sunday with a 4-under 68 which propelled him to a massive five-shot victory.

The 39th Ryder Cup proved to be perhaps the most incredible series of matches in Ryder Cup history. Team USA dominated the foursomes and fourball matches, taking a 10-6 lead into the Sunday singles games. USA required only 4½ points to win the Ryder Cup, but Europe smashed the away team comeback record, completing Mission Impossible, winning 8½ singles points from the 12 available to clinch an historic 14½-13½ victory at Medinah Country Club.

At the end of 2020, Medinah appointed Australian design firm OCM Golf to develop a master plan for its No. 3 course. Mike Cocking, one of the three OCM Golf partners, was quoted as saying old aerial photographs from the 1930s had been unearthed, which validated his thoughts for restoring bunker arrangements and mowing lines to those in use during the golfing Golden Age. Another key factor in the OCM plans will be the introduction of tightly mown green surrounds to strengthen recovery options around the putting surfaces.

Medinah No.3 is scheduled to host the 16th edition of the Presidents Cup in 2026.

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Course Architect

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Rees Jones

Rees Jones considers himself a multi-themed architect, which means he is constantly seeking variety, trying to give the player a new experience on every hole, not just on every course.

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