Appeared in 2011 Nicklaus Premier Clubs
Jack Nicklaus’ place in golf history is secure, as both player and designer. His record of 18 major championships remains the golden standard, and his design firm’s 350-plus courses have hosted scores of championships and PGA Tour events.
But only one of these creations stands alone as an integral pillar of Nicklaus’ legacy, a club that not only honors his many accomplishments and contributions to the game, but also will offer generations of future golfers a chance to prove themselves against a timeless test of golf.
That place is Muirfield Village Golf Club, Nicklaus’ masterwork in Dublin, Ohio. Since holding the first Memorial Tournament in 1976, two years after its opening, Muirfield Village has hosted the Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and U.S. Amateur. At the 2013 Presidents Cup, it will be the only club to host all three pro team events.
But Muirfield Village is far more than just a great course. At its core, it is simply Jack’s place, the realization of his idea of what a first-rate golf club should represent.“I’ve poured most of my life for the last 40-plus years into what’s happened with this golf club, the tournament and the golf course, and it’s been a fairly emotional thing for me,” Nicklaus says. “Muirfield Village stands alone as something that means a great deal to me. What it represents is my total vision as it relates to a golf course, a club and a tournament. We’re very proud of it.”
Although the name honors the Scottish links where Nicklaus won the 1966 British Open, the club takes its cues from another famous club of impeccable quality: Augusta National Golf Club, built by another all-time great, Bobby Jones.
Like Augusta, the 7,366-yard Muirfield Village is a second-shot course. Nearly every hole plays downhill to generous fairways, but deep bunkers guard the slick, undulating greens, and water comes into play on 14 holes. Through the lengthening of the holes over the years, Nicklaus has focused on preserving its strategic qualities.
“Where I have kept most busy is with the evolution of the golf course,” says Nicklaus. “Like any designer, I want it to show well. I want it to be able to hold up against the world’s best players, but I’ve also made changes for the sake of the members and spectators. Overall, it’s just a better golf course, but it’s essentially the same course that opened in 1974.”With the Presidents Cup in mind, Nicklaus instituted more changes in 2010, to the 215-yard 16th hole, which will be a crucial hole in match play. He shifted the green right and installed a pond that guards the front-left portion of the putting surface.
“It’s a great golf hole that looks like it’s always been there,” says Paul Latshaw, the course superintendent who diligently keeps Muirfield Village among the most finely conditioned layouts in the United States.
Nicklaus is just as particular about the rest of the club’s facilities as the course. Every member and guest receives a first-class experience—warming up on the circular driving range, relaxing in the locker room, dining in the clubhouse or
enjoying an overnight stay at the 12-suite Lodge or one of the six four-bedroom villas.
Barbara Nicklaus decorated the 4,300-square-foot villas, which have comfortable bedrooms, screened-in decks, pool tables and HD televisions, giving Muirfield Village not just the feel of a great golf club, but a golf home that is the perfect way to fully appreciate Nicklaus’ finest design.
“Basically, we have a masterpiece that we just have to build around,” says Nicholas LaRocca, the club’s new general manager. “Our mission is to make sure that everything else matches up to the standards of a really special golf course.”
In his hometown, Jack Nicklaus created a masterful layout at the heart of a special golf club that has fulfilled his vision of offering a timeless golf experience for players of all abilities, including tour pros in the Memorial and 2013 Presidents Cup
By: Dave Shedloski