Muirfield- There’s no place like home
Muirfield. An iconic word in the sport of golf. The Scottish course is one of a select group on which The Open Championship is played. In Dublin, Ohio it is the name of a classic course that shares its name with its epic Scottish counterpart as a result of designer Jack Nicklaus winning the Open Championship there in 1966.
Although the land for the course was acquired in the same year as that win, construction on the course did not begin until six years later and it was finally opened on US Memorial Day – May 27, 1974. Two years later it hosted the first Memorial Tournament and every year since then the course celebrates its birthday by attracting the greatest golfers on the planet to compete in what some refer to as the fifth major.
20 years after the Open Championship win that gave this course its name, a 46-year-old Nicklaus won his 18th major at the Masters despite trailing by six shots with ten holes to play, but two more recent comeback kings will take centre stage at this year’s Memorial. Rory McIlroy clawed back seven shots in the final round to win the BMW PGA Championship at the weekend while new World Number 1 Adam Scott bounced back from a first round 71 to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, overtaking 63 golfers over three rounds. The two biggest names in the sport at this moment in time will now meet on this stunning course that was voted number 17 in Golf Digest’s list of the 100 Best American Golf Courses. Five-times major winner and current British Open Champion Phil Mickelson is among other top names to attack the course this week, but five time winner Tiger Woods will not tee it up in search of his sixth victory due to his extended recovery from back surgery.
Murifield Village has achieved some notable accolades over its 40 year history but a true test of its recognition in its standing in the world of golf is that it is the only course in the world to host the Ryder Cup, the Solheim Cup and the President’s Cup. Quite a unique feat.
The Muirfield Village Golf Club is one of two courses within the Muirfield Village Community (the other is The Country Club at Muirfield). This upmarket golf-orientated community is home to a litany of local CEOs and celebrities including zookeeper Jack Hanna and American Football coach Urban Meyer. The houses were designed to merge seamlessly into the golfing environment and house sales started the same year as the course opened in 1974. Inevitably founder Jack Nicklaus and wife Barbara, the first lady of golf, have a home there and if it’s good enough for The Golden Bear it is easy to see why many of people find its environs extremely attractive. It was Nicklaus’ dream to bring a professional tournament to his home town but he not only managed that but made his home town a much more desirable place to live.
“Muirfield did cost me a little. It nearly cost me a lot. But I didn’t care. It’s what I wanted to do,” says Nicklaus. It’s worth remembering that back then the 26-year-old may well have been a three-time major winner but wasn’t the mega-rich superstar that he would become with the wealth that any modern golfer would automatically accrue with such success.
But Nicklaus had a dream and he made it a reality, attracting the world’s greatest golfers to play the course and the state’s movers and shakers to call it home. As the Memorial Tournament’s own magazine describes the area: “Muirfield Village is one of the most fortuitous meetings of imagination and real estate.”
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