Golf’s Legendary Medinah Country Club Running on All Three Cylinders

All three of Medinah Country Club's three golf courses are open for business this summer as echoes of Ryder Cups and Major Championships roll over the hills.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

There are very few golf clubs in the United States that can claim a history as rich as Medinah. Now, this hallowed ground for golfers is flourishing again with all three of its championship courses up and running into the autumn.

Through its 93 year existence, the Medinah Country Club hosted the U.S. Open in 1949, 1975 and 1990, along with the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2006. It capped off that history with a Ryder Cup in 2012. And, while its Course #3 is Medinah’s all purpose track for these major events, Course #2 is a major draw for private members who come to this Chicago-area classic to tread the same ground as past champions Gary Player, Tiger Woods and Hale Irwin.

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The powers that be at Medinah CC decided Course #2 needed modernization to bring evolve it from its 1920s origin to the rigors of the modern game. During a recent media event to unveil the changes, this wannabe champion had the opportunity to walk Course #2 with designer Rees Jones to explore its new identity.

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Using maps and photos of #2’s original design circa the 1920s, the new course’s look doesn’t alter the hole layout or gradients in any significant way. But, Jones and company upped the spread of the fairways by more than 50%, allowing greens and tee boxes to align akin to older courses traced all the way back to Royal St. Andrews.

Beyond those fairway extensions, the new design updates #2’s greens to USGA specifications and Greens, tees, and fairways were replanted with bentgrass. The entire effort is clearly aimed at bringing the course into the modern era of greens-keeping without sacrificing its historic look and feel.

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Course #1 and the legendary #3 underwent their own renovations in 2012 and 2014, consecutively. With #2’s completion, Medinah is back to full capacity and stands ready to welcome golf’s best back to Illinois.

Of course, the tricky bit for an amateur is finding a way onto any of Medinah’s runs as it remains a private, elite country club. You have to be a member or a guest to enjoy access. Fortunately, I might know some people…