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Medinah’s magic over 80 years in the making

September 21, 2012
LOS ANGELES: While it may not have the storied history of The Old Course at St. Andrews or the prestige of Pebble Beach, Chicago’s Medinah Country Club remains rich in tradition and golfing lore.

For over eighty years, Medinah has hosted prestigious events including five major golf championships, numerous PGA Tour events and countless other national and regional golf events.

“Medinah has such a great history of golf,” said Davis Love, who will skipper the USA team when Medinah hosts the 2012 Ryder Cup September 28-30.

World renowned golf course architect Tom Bendelow from Scotland was chosen in the 1920s to design three eighteen hole courses. He was hired by Chicago’s Medinah Shriners, a form of Freemasonry, with the idea of building the best country club in North America.

The first ball was struck on the No. 1 course in 1925. Course two was completed a year later and course three, originally designed as a women’s course, was finished in 1928.

Membership eventually grew to 1,500 but the great depression of the 1930s brought hardship to the region and membership among the Shriners tumbled.

Eventually non-Shriners were allowed to join but then World World II saw another dip in membership. Course two was closed until after the war when the economy began to pick up again.

The 54-hole private country club is now best known for its No. 3 course which stretches 7,657 yards.

It played host to the 1949, 1975 and 1990 US Opens and the PGA Championships in 1999 and 2006.

The list of golf legends who have played Medinah include, Harry Cooper, Tommy Armour, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Babe Didricksen, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Tom Watson, Gary Player, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

Harry “Lighthouse” Cooper holds the record for the lowest score on the No. 3 course, shooting a 63 en route to capturing the 1930 Medinah Open.

The prestige of playing Medinah has also attracted dignitaries from the around the world, including US presidents and Hollywood film stars like Bob Hope, who played a round in 1949 and shot a 78.

Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and comedian Jerry Lewis have also tested their golfing skills on Medinah.

Woods was crowned a golf champion twice at Medinah, winning the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2006.

Woods’ first win foreshadowed his “Tiger Slam” in 2000. In the final round of the 1999 tournament, Sergio Garcia hit a superb shot on No. 16 that appeared to set up a playoff with Woods. But Woods wasn’t going to be denied and held on to win by one stroke.

In 2006, Woods won by five strokes, becoming the first to win the season’s final major championship twice on the same course. In an uprecedented move, the membership honoured Woods by making him a lifetime member.

Woods will return to the scene of some of his greatest individual victories as a member of the USA team at the Ryder Cup. It will be the first time the Ryder Cup has been contested in the state of Illinois and the first US venue outside of eastern time zone since 1971.



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