This week the PGA Tour returns to Muirfield Village, in Dublin, Ohio, for the Memorial Tournament. The elevated status tournament — now in its 46th year — is one of the Tour’s premier events outside of the majors, and fans are quite familiar with the host site.
But this year, the course will have a new look.
The 2021 edition of the Memorial will be golf fans’ first look at Jack’s place since an extensive renovation that took place over the last year. New tees were installed, every green rebuilt, fairways reshaped, bunkers added and removed — all with the dual goal of making Muirfield Village both a better test for the pros and more enjoyable experience for members. (For a behind-the-scenes at the redesign process, watch the video above.)
To get more insight on the ins and outs of the project, we caught up with Chris Cochran, a senior design associate at Nicklaus Design. (Nicklaus Design and GOLF.com are affiliates of 8AM Golf.) Here are 6 takeaways from Cochran about the latest renovations to Muirfield Village.
1. Jack was deeply involved
You might assume that with the amount of day-to-day operations involved with a renovation of this scope that the Golden Bear might take a hands-off approach, but according to Cochran, it was quite the opposite.
“Jack was there all the time,” Cochran said. “We never had to wait on him for anything. When we needed him, he was there within days.”
2. The course is ‘better’ for all skill levels
Something Nicklaus stressed when going through the renovations at Muirfield Village was that his goal was not to make the course harder, but to make it better — and not just a better course for Tour-caliber players, but also for the membership of the club.
New back tees make the course play 150-plus yards longer, but new forward tees make it play 250 yards shorter. Fairways were tightened where the pros typically land their tee balls, but widened in the members’ typical landing zone.
“At the end of the day,” Cochran said, “Jack says he just made it better.”
3. Every green complex was rebuilt
Often, a renovation will only need to rebuild certain greens, but at Muirfield Village, it was a complete overhaul. In addition to rebuilding every green on the course, the Nicklaus team also pushed back seven greens.
4. Expect big changes to No. 15…
According to Cochran, the most noticeable change for fans will be on No. 15, where the back tee was lengthened by 37 yards and the first landing area was lowered by 15 feet. Also, the large mounding to the right of the green that kept the creek mostly out of play was removed, bringing the water much more in play.
“It has some dramatic changes,” Cochran said.
5. … and to No. 4, too
On the old green at No. 4, the pitch on the right side was far too severe to be pinnable. To fix this, Nicklaus designed a whole new contour for the putting surface. What was once the smallest green on the course is now the largest.
The back tee box was also lengthened to challenge even the longest hitters and the existing bluff short of the green was shifted to give the hole an even more dramatic look from the tee.
“No. 4, in my opinion, was the weakest looking hole on the golf course,” Cochran said. “Now, I think it’s a very good-looking hole. It has a much more dramatic look.”
6. The process was ‘crazy fast’
Fans might remember the scene last summer at the Memorial as the grounds crew began tearing up the course right as players were finished. As soon as eventual winner Jon Rahm made the turn, work began on the front nine. This was by design. The deadline was a tight one.
“How quickly we had to do it was the tough deal,” Cochran said. “The last sod on the last green went down 59 days after we started. That is crazy fast.”