Medinah Country Club near Chicago hosts this year’s Ryder Cup and the course has a perfect set up for matchplay golf. There are several intriguing risk-reward holes and that means players will have to give some thought to how they approach them in the context of the situation of the match.
Medinah is in Illinois and this is the first time the Ryder Cup has been played in that state. It is also the first venue outside the Eastern Time zone since 1971. The course has hosted five major championships in it’s history. The latest two were the PGA Championships of 1999 and 2006, both won by Tiger Woods. The 1990 US Open was also played at Medinah when Hale Irwin won after a play-off.
The course underwent several changes before the PGA Championship in 2006. At the time it was the longest course in major championship history. One of the most significant features of the layout with regards matchplay golf is the three par 3’s on which water comes significantly into play.
When Woods won the 2006 PGA Championship he became the first player to win the tournament twice on the same course. Clearly the former world number one has positive mental associations with Medinah. Woods’ Ryder Cup record is relatively modest in view of his dominance of the game for the last 15 years. If ever he was to make a significant contribution to the team’s cause it will be at Medinah.
The course has been lengthened to 7658 yards for the Ryder Cup and that is long even by modern standards. The big hitters will clearly have an advantage and length of the tee will be vitally important to set up manageable approach shots. Players will have a physiological advantage in out driving their opponents and the matchplay edge in playing second to the greens.
Medinah has the usual quota of four par 3s and four par 5s and an overall par of 72, 36 on each nine. The three early holes are relatively easy consisting of two short par 4s and a par 3 of under 200 yards. The run of holes from 4 to 7 could be key as it is on these holes that length from the tee will be most significant.
The back nine begins with a reachable par 5 and as the matches reach critical stages going for the green in two will be an important decision. Most of the holes that have the greatest reward but inherent risk feature on the second half of the course. Medinah will present some perfect scenarios for matchplay golf and as such is a great venue for this year’s Ryder Cup.