Medinah CC selects OCM to develop master plan

  • Medinah
    Photo by Evan Schiller
Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Medinah Country Club in Illinois has appointed Australian firm OCM Golf to develop a master plan for its #3 course, the longest of the three courses at Medinah and host of multiple championships including three US Opens, two PGA Championships, and the 2012 Ryder Cup. The course will host the Presidents Cup in 2026.

“The course is laid out over some terrific ground for golf,” said Mike Cocking, one of the partners at OCM Golf. “It’s a lovely sprawling landscape with some big-scale movement and many excellent green sites. Combined with stands of old oaks and the holes around Lake Kadijah, it is a beautiful canvas for us to work with. Many well-known architects have been involved over the years including the original designer Tom Bendelow.

“One of the most exciting aspects of our research has been the discovery of some old aerial images from the early 1930s, which showed quite different designs on a number of holes and some really bold examples of bunkering in a style consistent with some of best-known work built during the Golden Age. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect was on a number of holes where we felt the holes would benefit from an alternative arrangement of hazards or mowing lines, and then we looked across to the 1930s plan and there they were… exactly where we were hoping to place them.

“We want to defend the holes using angles rather than just through brute strength alone. Ensure the reward – and penalty – for being in and out of position is greater than it is at the moment. Perhaps just as importantly, we want the holes to be more interesting and more varied. We want more questions asked of the golfer during the round. Sometimes these questions will be obvious, but at other times they will be confusing with a lot of different clubs and options in the player’s hands. This is when golf is at its most interesting and when a different pin position, lie, or wind direction can totally change your approach to the hole.

“The best way to achieve this is with a combination of width, short grass, interesting bunker positions and of course brilliant green complexes that tilt or slope in a way which reinforces the strategy back down the fairway. Then, if the weather behaves, some firmness to the greens and surrounds will only enhance the strategies and further place more of a premium on position.”

A key aspect OCM’s plan will be short grass around greens, to challenge elite players.

“With short grass comes options and this is something tour pros aren’t necessarily accustomed to when it comes to playing recovery shots around a green... plus missed shots can run further away from the target,” said Cocking. “As for the average golfer, they are no longer trying to gouge a wedge out of long rough... they can even putt if they really want. So, for them, it makes recovery shots a little friendlier.”