Medinah Country Club is no stranger to big-time golf. It hosted the PGA Championship won by Tiger Woods in 1999 in a final-round duel with Sergio Garcia, and it was the site for U.S. Opens in 1949 (won by Cary Middlecoff), 1975 (Lou Graham) and 1990 (Hale Irwin).
Michael J. Scully, PGA Director of Golf, takes us on a hole by hole tour of Medinah, site of the 2012 Ryder Cup matches. For more on the Cup, visit rydercup.com.
433 yards, Par 4
In 2012, the first change the players of the 39th Ryder Cup Matches will notice on Course No. 3 at Medinah Country Club will be on the first tee. The addition of a new back tee has lengthened the hole, and hitting a hybrid or 3-wood off the tee will mean a flatter lie in the landing area. The attempt to hit a driver may result in a hanging lie in the fairway. It might be wiser the leave the "big dog" in the bag. The green has a slight pitch, from back-to-front, with a Rees Jones collection area, back-left that needs to be avoided. The toughest hole placement is back-right, with only 18 feet of green behind the front-right bunker. It's an easy opening hole, compared to the rest of the course, and can give a player a false sense of security.
192 yards, Par 3
Many players say that the difficulty of Course No. 3 begins on the second tee box. This very challenging par-3 has a forced carry, with no bailout on the left side. A missed shot left leads to a walk of shame to the drop area. The traditional winds from the southwest will blow in and across the face of the players and makes this hole a difficult par-3.
412 yards, Par 4
From the tee, the players will see the Rees Jones bunkers down the right side that should be the target to work the ball right-to-left. They will have to try to stay to the right side to avoid the overhanging Medinah trees. Leveling of the fairway took away what used to be a blind second shot, and made this a viable birdie hole. The green slopes from back-to-front and is guarded by bunkers on both sides.
463 yards, Par 4
Favor the right side of this pitched fairway, as any balls hit down the left side will likely find the rough. Approach shots to the green always play a club longer because of the severe elevation change from fairway-to-green. The green is slightly sloped from back-to-front, but has a way of disguising one of the fastest putts at Medinah. The key here is to keep the ball below the hole.
536 yards, Par 5
The shortest par-5 on the course makes this is the perfect risk/reward par-5. The premium location with a driver is right-center, leaving most players with a 3- or 4-iron to an elevated green. The green isn't easy to hit in two, because it is elevated. However, the hole makes most players want to gamble. We may see a hybrid/hybrid club combination as the two-shot plan, with a putt at eagle that could swing a match!
509 yards, Par 4
One of Medinah's truly great par-4's! With the addition of a new back tee, the length requires a driver shaping from left-to-right off the three fairway bunkers. Do not make the mistake of missing the fairway to the right, or you are staring bogey right in the face. Left side of the fairway will still leave most a mid- to long-iron into a sloped and well-bunkered green. This is a hole where the tee shot will definitely dictate the score.
617 yards, Par 5
Another Medinah Classic, the seventh is the longest par-5 on the course, as well as the member's No. 1 handicap hole. Rees Jones added another tee box that calls for the ideal tee shot down the left side, which will set up a lay-up shot focused on being 120 yards out. Anything closer brings a left side fairway bunker into play. Do not miss the green or fall into the steep greenside bunkers. The green is elevated and has a several subtle breaks that make it difficult to read and putt.
201 yards, Par 3
A couple of major championships ago, this was a blind tee shot. However, the leveling of the fairway has given the players a great view of a heavily guarded green that breaks hard from left to right. The key here is to locate the halfway house, as most putts will break to the building.
432 yards, Par 4
A great dogleg left that presents somewhat of a blind shot off the tee, and in today's game will require a 3-wood, or hybrid. Hugging the right side here will leave you an uphill look at a well-bunkered green that breaks fast from right-to-left. Take your par here, and run to the 10th tee.
578 yards, Par 5
A thinking man's par-5 that can be reached in two, but demands that both be great shots! The drive should be played toward the right bunkers, shaping from right-to-left. Club choice might include 3-wood to take the bunkers out of play, and then hitting a hybrid or long iron to a conservative lay-up will make the third shot a little easier. The tenth green has the greatest slope from back-to-front as any on the golf course. The dilemma here is whether to be aggressive or conservative.
440 yards, Par 4
The eleventh hole has the smallest green on the golf course, and the addition of the Rees Jones fairway bunker has put a premium on driving accuracy and club choice. The play is 3-wood or hybrid that will leave the player with short iron into a small, newly undulated green. The hole looks easy, but it could swing the momentum in a match!
476 yards, Par 4
This gem just may be the best par-4 on the property. A generous driving area benefits the player staying to the right side for a better angle to approach the green. A big oak guards the green on the left side that the membership has hit 95,345 times over the years. The second shot should be mid-iron into a green that slopes hard from left-to-right, but doesn't look as severe because of the sharp drop-off on the right side of the green to the pond. Four will go a long way here in any match!
245 yards, Par 3
Known over the years as Medinah's signature hole, the green on thirteen is now guarded by three bunkers, and slopes from right-to-left. The club choice will be the challenge as players contend with the winds off Lake Kadijah. Being the longest par-3 on the course, and with the challenge of the wind, this may be where the matches turn on Sunday.
609 yards, Par 5
The longer players have the advantage here if they can get the ball to the top of the hill. From there they will have a long iron or fairway metal into a green that is well guarded by bunkers and slopes significantly from back-to-front. It is hard to get the ball close on the third shot because of the slope in the green. The challenge here will be to contend with the overhanging Medinah trees.
391 yards, Par 4
This was the most significant change that Rees Jones made during his last update to Course #3. What was the easiest par-4 on the course has been turned into a short and potentially exciting par-4 with water adjoining the landing area and green. This hole could lead to more fireworks during the 39th Ryder Cup. If the tees are moved forward, then for many players, it will be it will be driver, 3-wood or hybrid for the long hitters! The green complex is where the challenge will begin as it is well bunkered in the front and has the Rees Jones collection area back-right. This small shallow green should produce a lot of memorable shots in Ryder Cup history!
482 yards, Par 4
The sixteenth hole is where all the fireworks began in '99, with Sergio Garcia's miraculous shot from behind an oak tree on the right side of the fairway. The new Rees Jones tee box has brought driver back in to the hands of many players to leave approximately 200 yards into an elevated green that may require an extra club. Once greenside, there is no bargain dealing with a sloped green from right-to-left that is heavily guarded with bunkers. Par may be the premium here during the matches.
193 yards, Par 3
The key here will be the wind off Lake Kadijah, and the nerves of trying to win a match to win the 39th Ryder Cup. Hitting this relatively flat green will be the key with being long or left, making up and down quite difficult.
449 yards, Par 4
This finishing hole was no easy bargain during the 2006 PGA Championship. Off the tee, Rees Jones added a group of bunkers to work the ball from right-to-left. On the approach, the green has been raised in the air almost one story high, and is flanked by some steep bunkers. The green, itself, is pitched from back-to-front, with a collection area in the back-right, with up and down to a back-right hole location almost impossible. The 18th could produce a dramatic finish to another storied event at Medinah.