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 drivable par four sporting a new lake. We're also led to beleive 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 USPGA 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.
Watching the Ryder-Cup at Medinah has been interesting. Tee-shots especially, when missing fairways have been bouncing and rolling quite some distance off line, but because the grass off the fairways is shortish the ball can be found fairly easily (okay I know the spectators/TV helps, but I'm sure you get the general idea). In addition, playing shots from shorter grass off the fairway, often with a tree canopy overhead and with tree limbs on the direct line of play, doesn't need semi-Charles Atlas like strength. No, recovery shots from this type of spot can be played by any level of player with skill, indeed even delicacy, witness mid-iron punches, draws and cuts, even chips with hybrid/rescue clubs. What's needed is skill, not just brute strength, and it's pretty much only brute strength that's needed to hack it out of 2-5 inch manicured rough. So maybe DL III by asking for Medinah to be set up with lower manicured rough has hit on something at parkland/meadowland courses, as in aiming to do something tactical or strategic in Ryder Cup terms, he and his R-Cup colleagues may have accidentally shown a revised style of parkland/meadowland course set-up better suited to all levels of player, whether they be Pro's, fit & strong fitness junkies, male or female, or juniors or seniors.
Furthermore, although I'm sure some would would argue the point, I for one would need quite some convincing that any more green-keeping resources would be needed, after all the mowers regularly cut the manicured rough anyway, so the mowers might as well have the blades set a bit lower and cut the rough a wee bit shorter each time they drive over it. I've just re-read Alistair MacKenzie's famous 13 principles of course design and can't help but wonder if this wasn't what he was aiming at nearly 100 years ago, ie more interest and enjoyment with less rough. Just a thought. Will the floodgates now open and drown me? In closing I'd just like to say that this is a splendid website full of excellent course reviews and comments. Well done to those who set the website up, administer it and contribute to it. I hope that those who are members at or love Medinah do not feel that I have criticised your course. This is not at all my intention, but what DL III has had done for the R-Cup at your wonderful looking venue is most interesting and thought provoking if considered in the wider golfing context.