At Medinah this week, the best place to watch golf is the Tiny House on the 14th hole

August 17, 2019

Inside The Tiny House, beside the 14th tee, Course No. 3, Medinah, Ill. — Your correspondent has an unobstructed view of the back tee here, from a step leading to a sleeping loft, deep inside The Tiny House. Not that you can get too deep.

All of the working gents, 69 of them in total, are smashing driver. The 14th hole measures 609 yards. The Tiny House houseguests, sitting on Adirondack chairs and playing bean-bag toss between groups, are the picture of chill. They’re off the clock.

The Tiny House air-conditioning is outstanding and cool air is spilling out of its open windows into the muggy weekend summer air. The Tiny House is a tollhouse, of a kind.

Jose Olague, Tiny House bartender, just offered your correspondent a drink. He’s got Don Julio, Ketel 1, Crown Royal, Jello shots. (Note to Ed.: watch out for bad spelling.) Edward Reeder, the Tiny House cook, is working an Evo Grill, planted between the Tiny House and the 14th tee. A Medinah Burger and various other Chicagoland specialties are on the menu. Cameron Champ just yelled fore right. Now Jim Furyk, winner of the 2003 U.S. Open way down the street at Olympia Fields, received a hero’s welcome.

The viewing party spilled out onto the Tiny House's stairs.
The viewing party spilled out onto the Tiny House's stairs.
Michael Bamberger

Augusta National has its cabins. PGA National has its condos. Riviera has its mansions. Medinah has its Tiny House. You’d like to call it venerable because most everything about Medinah is, but the truth is The Tiny House was wheeled in right before the tournament. It’s made by Chicago-area company called Bantam Built. They make tiny houses. This one is about 314 sq. feet, with two sleeping lofts with queen beds, a galley kitchen, a good-sized head, running water and electricity — and a well-stocked bar.

Jason Kokrak just unleashed one. Somebody yelled fore left but the smattering of applause gave a more accurate report. What a relief. Kokrak is a hero to anybody who followed the Florida Swing this year. He played in all four events and made all four cuts. All that helped him get here, to FedEx II: The Playoffs! He didn’t sneak even a peak at The Tiny House. His mind is elsewhere.

There’s a giant tent beside the 18th green with a very large BMW in it. You could fit a Smart car in this Tiny House, but you wouldn’t want to. During a Saturday-afternoon rain-delay, The Tiny House possibly exceeded its legal capacity. Thankfully, the showers passed quickly.

Three Medinah members and buddies — Vaughn Moore, Brendan Downing and John Christopher — were approached by the young owner of Bantam Built with this most creative idea, to buy a Tiny House and plant it on the course for a week. The gents took the idea to the board and they earned the club’s seal of approval. And now, Medinah is thinking about buying some Tiny Houses for interns and visiting summer staff. Based on the number of people who have taken pictures of The Tiny House, this is a business about to take off.

Here are three frequent comments for first-time visitors:

1. “Ohmagosh.”
2. “Is it always here?”
3. “What kind of beer you got?”

Now, some commentary on the comments:

1. Chicagoans save “god” for important occasions.
2. No. This week only.
3. All your better domestics.

Michael Bamberger

Most of the action is on the lawn. Guests come in to chat-up Jose, use the facility, check out the quarters and cool off. The seating capacity is about three.

Two sisters came in, good-looking, in the mid-summer, Midwestern country-club tradition.

“Shhhh,” the one said to the other. Rickie Fowler was on tee. Rickie Fowler in the house! Well, near it.

“Charles Howell III came in right after he made his hole in one in the par 3 during the pro-am,” said Vaughn Moore, “and he loved it!” He excused himself to use “the tiny rest room.” Really, it’s not very tiny. Not compared to the on-course Port-A-Johns.

A tour group is coming through. “This is like a little tiny house,” the tour guide said. You’d like to offer a correction — it’s not like a tiny house — but that’s not really the Chicago way. A small group of large Chicago Bears came into The Tiny House. Jon Rahm smashed one off the 14th tee.

Early next week, the Medinah Tiny House will be off-course again, back whence it came, and on the market. It could be yours for 85K, but that does not include the view. There was no sleeping at The Tiny House this week, but that’s this week.

“My tiny house is your tiny house,” Jose told a Tiny House houseguest. Then he poured another Kentucky Mule.

Michael Bamberger may be reached at