Rees Jones discusses Medinah No.2 restoration project

  • Nemu2

    The eighth hole on the No.2 course at Medinah Country Club

  • Nemu2

    From left to right: Steve Weisser, Dane Wilson, Rees Jones, Mike Crance, Curtis Tyrrell, Rocco Palmi and Blue Kelly

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

A project to restore the No.2 Course at Medinah Country Club near Chicago, Illinois, is set to reach completion this summer.

The work at the course is being led by Rees Jones and associate Steve Weisser under the guidance of Medinah’s director of golf course operations Curtis Tyrrell. Jones has had a long affiliation with Medinah CC, having completely renovated Course No.3 prior to its hosting of the 2006 PGA Championship and the 2012 Ryder Cup matches.

All three courses at Medinah were originally designed by Tom Bendelow, and Jones’ work on No.2 stayed true to the original design.

“I think the term restoration is sometimes overused, but this project in my opinion is a true restoration of Tom Bendelow’s design,” Jones told GCA. “We have modernised it by adding or relocating a few bunkers and adding tee locations, but the green surfaces and the surrounding slopes are Bendelow’s original design. I would say this is a bona fide restoration with a few implementations of design ideas for 21st century play.”

Jones explains that the No.2 course is the club’s shorter course, popular with higher handicappers, ladies and juniors.

“No.2 hadn’t been touched for a very long time so the original design ideas were evident,” Jones explained. “The trees were overgrown, the greens had shrunk, and several bunkers had been eliminated. So, we were able to restore it back to how Tom Bendelow originally designed it. Tom Bendelow lived in Chicago and spent a lot of personal time designing this course, and so subtle nuances can be found because of that.”

Jones said that though the club’s three courses have differing design attributes, the greens on No.2 really stand out.

“Bendelow had some very interesting green surfaces which we were able to restore back to the old shapes and contours which are unique,” Jones said. “Most of the greens have open entrances so they are easy to access. The bunkers are scattered much like you would find from many courses from that era, when architects tried to build British links-style courses inland, and so many of the bunkers are located farther away from the surface of the greens.”

“The greens are challenging, and interesting. There are many low-mowed areas surrounding them which allow for a variety of recovery shot options. The greens and the green surrounds are the predominant feature of this golf course.”

One interesting part of the project is it addresses the future of the game with the addition of tees to each hole in what the club calls its ‘Golf For Life’ programme. “This type of program is being incorporated at a number of golf courses around the country to help the game grow and keep people in the game,” Jones said. “Medinah wanted to take a leadership role in introducing this programme. There are seven sets of tees. When a beginner takes up the game, they can play the forward tee and as they get better they keep moving back. Then as you get older and you can’t hit it as far, you start moving forward again. I think this is going to be a golf course that every calibre of player, from the entry level player to the young player to the older player, can play and enjoy if they play the proper tees.” 

Much of the work has now been completed, with a period of turf establishment underway ahead of the reopening this summer.

“Medinah is such a special place to me,” Jones added. “I have enjoyed working with Curtis and the club officials on this project. I look forward to the opening. I think the members will be very pleased. If Bendelow were here to see the course, I think he would be smiling too.”