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Medinah Reopens Course One Following Doak Remodel


Golf course architect Tom Doak on Friday struck the first ceremonial tee shot at Medinah Country Club's Course One, officially reopening the layout following his 21-month $6.5 million renovation at the Chicago-area club.

Moments later, a group of members looked on and listened as Doak lit the fuse on a celebratory cannon blast that pierced the summer evening air and marked the beginning of a new era at the iconic 90-year-old country club.

The actions occurred after a traditional ribbon-cutting ritual on the first tee of the 1924-built course, which Doak started renovating on October 1, 2012, only 13 hours after the conclusion of the Ryder Cup, which took place on the club's championship No. 3 course.

"Tom Doak's innovative renovation of Course One and this evening's ceremonial reopening signals the beginning of a new era in the history of Medinah Country Club," said 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."

Initiated as a way to address persistent flooding issues, Doak's renovation plan required him to triple the size of a pond on the course's 15th hole, remove of 770 trees to open up of the middle of the course, and change the sequence of several holes in the process.

"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," the Michigan-based architect 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 has always been the club's championship course, Course One has been a favorite of members and guests, especially those seeking an alternative to the difficulty of No. 3.

"With the renovation of Course One, members are going to have three distinctly different golf courses members and their guests can play," added 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 golf course superintendent Curtis Tyrrell, who oversees grounds activities at all three courses, said the Course One renovation solved the infrastructure issues, and 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 still are located in their original 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."

Tyrrell said a new generation of "007" creeping bentgrass has been planted across all tees, greens and fairways. Meanwhile, the rough areas are 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 noted.

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 events in the pre-PGA Tour era. Players who've won at Medinah include such luminaries 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 boasts three golf courses, all originally designed by Bendelow. The massive 120,000-square foot clubhouse designed by Richard Schmid is a unique architectural blend with Byzantine, Oriental and Louis XIV influences.