Jack Nicklaus' Muirfield Village Golf Club, host of the PGA Tour's annual Memorial Tournament, will undergo a two-renovation after the 2020 edition of the tournament.
The first phase of the project begins this fall at the Ohio club, during which Nicklaus will add new back teeing grounds for the par-3 eighth, par-5 11th and par-5 15th, as well as new rough area for the par-5 fifth. The length of No. 8 is increasing by 25 yards, No. 11 by 15 yards and No. 15 by 30 yards. The changes will increase the total maximum course yardage to 7,462 yards.
The July 6, 2020 starting date for the second phase would be approximately one month after the 2020 Memorial finishes on June 7, giving the club ample time to deconstruct the tournament infrastructure before digging earth for the work, which will include a resurfacing of all 18 greens after installing the latest in drainage, irrigation and temperature-control systems.
In Phase II, many bunkers will be re-built, teeing grounds leveled, and the fairways will be regrassed at similar widths.
Also, the fifth hole will be redesigned and converted into a par 4 during the Memorial Tournament so the course will play to a par of 71. Nicklaus is hoping the easiest hole on the course will become more challenging and inviting as a long par 4.
"I just want to create more landing area on the tee shot, so that quite often they will play driver off the tee, and then play 5- or 6-iron into the green as a true par 4," he said.
Mr. Nicklaus is leading the work as he has multiple times over the years.
“This will probably be my last bite at the apple,” Nicklaus said in a release. “I’ve done little tweaks on the golf course throughout the years, and some significant changes, like the par-3 16th. This time, we are going through the golf course, A to Z, and making sure we do everything at one time.”
The last significant change to Muirfield Village came in 2011, when Nicklaus removed the old par-3 16th and replaced it in full ahead of hosting the 2013 Presidents Cup. A fronting water hazard was adding, as were spectator mounds to surround the new green, which was initially too firm for the players as the putting surface settled.
Prior to that change, Nicklaus redesigned the par-4 17th hole in 2002. Nicklaus made the driving zone more slender off the tee, adding bunkering to challenge the player. The elevated greenside complex was stiffened as well, and the hole was lengthened to 478 yards.
The clubhouse has been completely redone, and the practice facilities have been dramatically improved.
Since it opened in 1974, the course had been lengthened from 6,969 yards to 7,392 yards.
“Through the years, I have made a lot of changes, some for the sake of the members, some to improve the spectator experience, and some simply to make the golf course a better and stronger test," Nicklaus said in May 2019, as reported by PGATour.com. "Like any designer, I want the course to show well, and be able to hold up against the game’s best players, so I have tried to find ways to preserve shot values."
Nicklaus has seen Muirfield Village similarly to Augusta National, in that the course is a living, changing animal.
“I think all golf courses are in continual evolution. I do,” he said. “Muirfield Village has been that way. You see something that can make it better and you go do it. But Muirfield Village is intrinsically the same golf course. You could go through the golf course and compare what it was when it opened and where it is today and you’d think the difference was night and day. But done over time you don’t notice it.”
The changes come as nearby Scioto Country Club has announced their plans to restore their Donald Ross-designed golf course back to its original features following a turn hosting the US Senior Open. The renovation, done by en vogue architect Andrew Green, will begin in June 2021 and last a year. Nicklaus grew up learning the game at Scioto.