A Comprehensive Guide to Muirfield Village Golf Club
Jack Nicklaus has designed more than 400 golf courses in 45 countries. He’s got an additional 50+ under construction, planned to be open in the near future. If you ask him which is the nearest and dearest to his heart, he won’t even hesitate to give his response.
He will tell you unequivocally that Muirfield Village Golf Club, the absolute gem he created in the backyard of his alma mater, is his favorite. It sticks out for so many reasons, and we are here today to break them all down.
This is an all-inclusive guide to Muirfield Village GC, the home of the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament. We are going to bring you up to speed on why and when Jack opted to build a course in his hometown. We’ll then tell you all about the golf course, citing the signature holes and the revealing the nuances of the property.
This page on Muirfield Village Golf Club wouldn’t be complete without diving head-first into the Memorial Tournament, so don’t worry for a second.
We cover the event that takes place every May in the town Jack grew up in, as well as some other major golf tournaments that have been hosted at Muirfield Village over the years.
We’ll close by handing out some tips and advice for those of you who plan on heading to the Memorial to catch the world’s best players in full flight. Those of you who live around the Columbus, Ohio, area already know the ins and outs, but it’s our job to paint the full picture for those who may be “out of the loop.”
Take a quick peek at some basic facts about the exquisite venue. Then get nice and comfortable as we take you on a ride through the course that represents Jack’s legacy “to a tee.”
Muirfield Village Golf Club – Key Facts
Muirfield Village Golf Club – Key Facts
The Memorial Tournament (1976-Current), 1987 Ryder Cup, 1992 U.S. Amateur, 2013 Presidents Cup
“It’s almost hard to put into words the amount of affection, respect, and just pure joy of the association he has with Columbus, Ohio.”
Jack was an absolute standout for the men’s golf team at Ohio State University and a fixture while on campus. Nicklaus was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and has felt indebted to the people there his entire life. In the words of his wife, Barbara, Columbus had been so good to Jack that the least he felt like he could do was give something back to the community.
Jack’s vision was to create a championship golf course with a community feel and to bring the PGA Tour to Columbus annually, but it sure didn’t happen overnight. He wanted to make sure everything was perfect, meaning even the smallest of decisions had to go through the Golden Bear himself.
Nicklaus actually purchased the parcel of land used for Muirfield Village in 1966, although construction didn’t even break ground until 1972. Jack found the vegetation-filled land because it was actually an old hunting spot for him and his father during his childhood.
What makes Jack’s dedication to this project even more impressive is that he concentrated his efforts on building his dream golf course in his birthplace in the midst of absolutely dominating the world of golf.
The number-one player in the world won a mind-boggling 8 Major Championships during the 8-year span from the time he bought the land until the course was completed.
What you need to understand about Muirfield Village Golf Club is that it is much, much more than just an 18-hole course that avid golfers come to in order to escape for a few hours.
Jack’s intention the entire time was to develop an entire community, one that would be centered around “the village he created.” At the time, the city of Dublin had about 680 residents and one stoplight. Columbus had about a quarter-million people in all.
Fast forward to the official 2016 numbers, and you’ll see Dublin has more than 45,000 inhabitants, and more than 860,000 people call Columbus their home. The biggest factor for this steady uptick in growth has been what Jack has created.
A second course (Muirfield Village Country Club) was added, not to mention a fitness and aquatic center, plus tennis courts. There’s even a childcare facility on site so that members can feel safe leaving the young ones under responsible supervision while they enjoy an afternoon taking advantage of all the possibilities that await the members.
Jack wanted to leave a lasting legacy by giving back the best way he knew how. It’s clear that his mission was accomplished and continues to be every day. It’s as family-orientated of an environment as you’ll ever see on a PGA Tour-quality golf course.
Speaking of how top-notch the golf is at Muirfield Village Golf Club, now is a perfect time to transition into the very topic.
Visualizing Jack’s Creation
We have spent a bit of time trying to interpret how much designing a stunning golf course in the area meant to Jack Nicklaus. This is evidenced by the amount of money and time that was put into fulfilling this project. Jack knew he wanted to build a golf course for “his people,” and he wanted to host a PGA Tournament annually.
The final result came to fruition in 1974 when the course was formally opened, eight years after the land was acquired. Two years later, the Memorial Golf Tournament was established.
The great thing about Muirfield Village Golf Club is that Jack isn’t afraid to make changes as time passes and the technology improves. Every year before the Memorial Tournament, Nicklaus will make tweaks and adjustments to certain aspects of the holes.
Sometimes that means moving a tee back, and other times he may take out a tree or add a new bunker. Rather than fall behind the curve, Jack’s willingness to adapt to the modern game is one of the reasons no PGA Tour pro ever turns down an invitation to play in the Memorial.
“You’re talking about a Monet. And we hadn’t seen many Monets back then. It was great then, and all he’s done in the last 40-something years is make it greater, which isn’t an easy thing to do.”
When Jack first started designing the golf course, he took a long, hard look at the terrain he was dealing with. There were two obvious features that he knew he needed to take advantage of. There were large, mature trees that dominated the landscape, perfect to use as a guideline to help shape golf holes.
Secondly, there were a couple of creeks that ran through the grounds that Jack immediately knew he wanted to center the design around. Other than that, it was entirely left up to Jack’s imagination. So let’s start unveiling the no. 15 course in the US according to Golf Digest’s 2017/2018 list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.
The Golf Course – The Particulars
It’s time to start focusing on the specifics at Muirfield Village GC. The ones that stand out year after year, no matter what minor alterations the Golden Bear decides to make.
This golf course isn’t famous for having “one iconic hole,” and that isn’t a knock saying there isn’t a signature hole out there. It just means that Jack paid so much attention to detail of every nook and cranny on the property and used them to create 18 magnificent golf holes.
The demanding test of golf starts right out of the gates when players stare down the 470-yard opening hole. The par 4 bends slightly to the right, but three big bunkers guard the right side of the fairway, forcing most right-handed players to aim left and play a fade.
The green is also protected by sand traps – four, to be exact – that completely surround the perimeter of the putting surface. All this trouble, and it’s just the 11-handicap hole? This tells players right off the bat that they’ll need to be clicking on all cylinders to go around this track unblemished.
The traditional par-72 golf course has two par-36 nines, with two par 3s and two par 5s on each side. The par 5s typically play as the easiest holes for the tour players, as they are on most courses.
The 11th at Muirfield Village is one that the players can reach in two and make eagle if the conditions are right, but it can also jump up and bite them in their rears.
At 567 yards, the 11th doglegs to the left, favoring a right-to-left curving tee shot if players want an opportunity to “give this green a lick in two.” The creek that meanders up the entire left side before interjecting across the fairway deters players from trying to cut off too much of the corner.
The brilliant design of what we consider the best hole out there is that when the creek cuts across the fairway, it then borders the right side of the hole, before again jutting back in front of the green and to the left.
In the aerial shot, it looks as if there are columns of trees with a narrow creek twisting its way through and around the long strip of grass in between. When you actually step foot on the premises, you realize it’s one of the best par 5s you’ll ever play.
If you want to know about the most memorable par 4, look no further than the short, 363-yard 14th. Remember back in 1999 when Tiger Woods went berserk after holing this chip shot for par after he flubbed the first one?
This hole may be short, but the angle at which the putting surface sits makes this as daunting of an approach shot as the players will face the entire round. If you miss this green in regulation, you are going to be making bogey or worse a high percentage of the time. Unless, of course, your name is Tiger Woods.
We told you about the par 5 and par 4 that most fans remember the most. As for the par 3 that the spectators eagerly anticipate the leaders getting to each and every final round at the Memorial, that would be the stingingly-gorgeous 16th.
Just a shade over 200 yards on the scorecard only tells half the story, as the real challenge comes with the gigantic lake that swallows any balls pulled left.
The deep bunkers that guard the right portion of the green command players to be decisive with the type of shot they want to hit. It’s then up to the golfers if they can commit.
Not to overplay Tiger Woods and his magic at the Jack Nicklaus design, but this dramatic hole-out for birdie during the 2012 final round is arguably the most unforgettable shot ever hit at Muirfield Village. Tiger would go on to win the Memorial that year for the fifth time in his illustrious career.
The finishing hole at Muirfield Village GC is a brute of a final chapter as this book comes to a close. Players have to face 484 yards of par 4, and it’s anything but a straightaway hole. Try uphill and right-to-left curving, not to mention the green is perched and shielded by 4 deep bunkers.
Oh yeah, and if you are contending for the lead in the tournament, you will have the tournament host himself, Jack Nicklaus, sitting in a chair behind the green watching your every move. Good luck calming your nerves at the 18th. It’s no easy task.
The Memorial Tournament
As we have alluded to multiple times throughout this article, the Memorial Tournament is the flagship event at Muirfield Village Golf Club.
In fact, one of the chief reasons the Golden Bear decided to build a golf course in Dublin was for the sole purpose of bringing the PGA Tour to “his turf” every single year to showcase the town he grew up in.
Being that it has been going on since 1976 and hasn’t missed a year, there are simply way too many details and impressive performances to cover for us to try and jam everything onto this single page.
Instead, we took it upon ourselves to develop an in-depth guide to the Memorial Tournament. One that provides all the facts and all the theater you are looking for. Don’t skip out on clicking the tab below, or you might miss seeing something special.
While the Memorial Tournament is without a doubt the marquee event at Muirfield Village, it isn’t the only time the world’s best players have gathered on the confines of the Jack Nicklaus masterpiece to play a distinguished golf tournament. Take a glance at the segments underneath this passage.
1987 Ryder Cup
Entering the 1987 Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village Golf Club, the European squad was coming off their first victory in a Ryder Cup in 28 years. Their 1985 victory over the Americans marked the first time that the United States’ team didn’t retain the Cup since 1957.
Captain Tony Jacklin returned in ’87 with a loaded roster, ready to compete. Led by European Ryder Cup stalwarts Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, and Bernhard Langer (just to name a few of the big guns), the Euros defeated the men from the United States 15-13 in an epic battle that saw the Americans almost chase down their counterparts during Sunday’s final session of singles.
The consistent play from other European members like Jose Maria Olazábal and Ian Woosnam proved to be too much firepower for Captain Nicklaus and his 12 men. For the first time in history, this marked the second consecutive win for the European side.
Although the Ryder Cup hasn’t returned to the Ohio course since, another humongous team event has. Keep reading along, and you’ll find out what we are referring to.
1992 U.S. Amateur
Justin Leonard entered the 1992 U.S. Amateur as an incoming junior at the University of Texas. The former Longhorn golfer was certainly a force to be reckoned with at the start of the week, but what he did by week’s end is perhaps what propelled him into being the top player in the country by his senior year.
Leonard almost never had the chance after he was 4 down through 9 holes in his quarterfinal match against David White.
However, 5 birdies over his next 8 holes were enough to win the match 2&1 and move on to the semi-finals.
Another 2&1 victory set up the final match, one that witnessed the 20-year-old Texan obliterate his contender 8&7.
The medalist from the stroke-play portion and earning the number-one overall seed for match play was a guy from Ponte Vedra Beach that you may have heard of: David Duval.
2013 Presidents Cup
In a previous section about the 1987 Ryder Cup, we told you that the team format for the men’s competition would return to Muirfield Village, and it happened in the form of the 2013 Presidents Cup. This tournament was won by the Freddy Couples-led American squad, featuring veterans like Tiger and Phil.
The United States’ team got off to a quick start, winning Thursday’s opening fourball session 3 1/2 – 2 ½. By the time the captains were filling out the pairing’s sheet for Sunday’s singles’ matches, the Americans led 14-8, and who was going to win this Cup was already a foregone conclusion.
The final tally was 18 ½ – 15 ½ in favor of the US team, signaling the 5th straight win for the team from the United States. The good news for the International side is that the 2019 Presidents Cup is returning to the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, site of the 1998 Presidents Cup.
If you follow history, the 1998 edition has been the only time to date that the International team has proclaimed victory.
Planning a Trip to Dublin, Ohio
So there you have it! Don’t bother looking at the PGA Tour schedule trying to find out when the Memorial Tournament is going to be played at Jack’s course in Dublin. Tournament week always starts on Memorial Day, with the first round’s action getting underway three days later, starting on a Thursday.
If you need advice on traveling to the area, we are here to help you out. Clearly, if you are located in the Midwest and are close enough to the vicinity, you may just hop in a car and head to 5750 Memorial Dr. in Dublin. There are plenty of hotels nearby and more than enough to see on your way into town.
If you will be purchasing airfare, you’ll want to find a flight that lands at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, just under 25 miles southeast of the club.
If you are lucky enough to find a flight that will take you to Mitchell Airport in Plain City, that’s even closer to Muirfield Village at only about 5 miles away. It is a smaller airport and won’t field nearly as many flights. However, there are some mainstream airlines that will fly you directly to the landing strip at Mitchell.
Once you arrive at the golf course and see the pristine conditions, you will forget about how long it took you to travel. After a full day on the links, the city of Columbus has a plethora of attractions you’ll want to check out.
Most already are aware that “THE” Ohio State University’s campus is right in the heart of Columbus, making it only about 15 miles from Jack’s place. Ohio Stadium, commonly known as the Horseshoe, is one of the most famous and well-known football stadiums in the country. Seating over 100,000, it’s easy to be overwhelmed when walking into the house of the “Scarlet and Grey.”
If you aren’t a fan of adolescent men crashing into one another on a regular basis, perhaps you and your family will want to opt for something a bit calmer and more scenic like the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Just make sure you plan out enough time because you can spend an entire afternoon perusing around the home of more than 7,000 animals from over 800 different species.
We must also tell you about the Zoombezi Bay, attached to the Zoo and Aquarium. If you or anyone in your party appreciates water parks and fun rides, don’t miss out on visiting this outdoor amusement center.
Especially after a hot day in early June following the golfers, there isn’t a better place to cool down and recharge for another 4 ½-hour walk on the course the next day!
Making it all the way down to the conclusion means you probably feel like a veteran of Muirfield Village Golf Club by now. We introduced the course by trying to portray just how special and meaningful this creation was and is to the Golden Bear.
Jack poured every ounce of his energy into making this a one-of-a-kind experience for not just the members of the club and tournament participants, but Jack also wants every single patron that comes to the Memorial golf tournament to leave the property elated that they made the decision to come to the event.
We illustrated how and why Jack designed the course the way he did and how the trees and creeks define the outline of the golf course.
We made sure to enlighten you that the Memorial hasn’t been the only time the top golfers in the world have congregated at the golf club at Muirfield Village to play a prestigious tournament.
The golf course and surrounding area are such a treat that it would almost be a shame if you never got to experience attending a Memorial Tournament in person. You will see some incredible golf, and you will have loads to see and do after the rounds.
In other words, the last thing you will be is disappointed.