Muirfield in Scotland is the course of “The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers”, the world’s oldest golf club. It’s an architectural masterpiece and a layout that Jack Nicklaus thoroughly admires. His admiration turned into a love affair when he won the 1966 British Open at Muirfield and he decided to realise his dream by designing and naming his hometown course after the historic British Open venue.
"I set out to build not only an outstanding golf course for every level of player, but a magnificent course for watching a tournament... I thought the Masters was a great thing for golf and that I'd like to do the same thing in Columbus." Commented Jack. Muirfield Village Golf Club officially opened for play on Memorial Day (27th May 1974) with an exhibition match between big Jack and Tom Weiskopf. Needless to say Jack won with an impressive six-under par 66, a course record that stood until 1979.
Muirfield Village played host to the 1987 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Europe. Team Captains were Jack Nicklaus (US) and Tony Jacklin (Europe). Having never yet lost on home soil, the US Team, under the stewardship of Jack Nicklaus playing at his home club, seemed unlikely to falter. However, the “Spanish Armada” pairing of Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal had other ideas. The European lead after two days was an impressive five points, which the US Team tried to claw back in the singles, but came up short, allowing Europe’s first ever Ryder Cup victory on American soil. Europe 15 - USA 13. The Ryder Cup was played at The Belfry in 1985 and again in 1989.
No expense was spared in the construction of Muirfield Village with bold bunkering, water hazards and narrow fairways that require pinpoint accurate tee shots. The plan was for Muirfield Village to become Ohio’s equivalent to Georgia’s Augusta National and, in some ways, that objective has been achieved. The design is at once thrilling and thoughtful and the conditioning is immaculate.
In 1976, Jack inaugurated the Memorial Tournament which he hoped would develop into a fifth major and the event would be held annually at Muirfield Village. The tournament has not yet developed into a major, but it’s certainly a tremendous event that celebrates human golfing contributions and achievements. Bobby Jones was the first person to be honoured and Betsy Rawls and Cary Middlecoff were awarded honours in 2005. Click here for more information about the Memorial Tournament.
As most of us know, events do not always go to plan. The Ryder Cup was held here at Muirfield Village in 1987 and big Jack was the captain of team USA. Surely it would be apt and fitting for Jack to hold the Ryder Cup aloft on home soil and at his home club? Unfortunately for big Jack, Tony Jacklin had other ideas and Jacklin successfully marshalled team Europe to a narrow 15 points to 13 victory.
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Average Reviewers Score:
I have played many Jack Nicklaus designs, but Muirfield Village is by far his best. It is fantastically manicured, hardly a ball mark or a divot, or an unattended blade of grass. Number 18 is a beautiful 390-yard par 4 dogleg right with black walnut trees lining the left side of the lush rolling fairway. I hit my tee shot into the right fairway bunker, directly below Jack Nicklaus’ house. “I hope he’s not watching me through his front window,” I thought as I bladed my sand shot into the lip of the bunker and watched it dribble out onto the fairway. Then I hit a crisp 8-iron to that elevated green about 15 feet from the flag. “I hope you’re looking out that front window now, Jack,” I whispered as I proudly strolled up the fairway, imagining thousands of cheering fans surrounding this green on the final day of the Memorial Tournament. Were they cheering me on to make the putt? Or were they cheering Vicki for surviving a round of golf with her mother? Larry Berle.
The above review is an edited extract from A Golfer’s Dream, which has been reproduced with the author’s kind permission. A Golfer’s Dream, by Larry Berle, tells the story of how a regular guy conquered America’s Top 100 Golf Courses (following Golf Digest’s 2001/2002 list). Larry has exclusively rated for us every course in the hundred, using our golf ball rating system. However, Larry did not rate the 100 courses against every golf course he has played, but instead he rated them in relation to each other within the hundred. Consequently, in some cases, his rating may seem rather low. A Golfer’s Dream is available in Kindle format and also on Kindle Unlimited via Amazon... click the link for more.
The best course I've ever played. The course is always in exceptional condition. Not to mention a world class tournament.
One of my friends who lives in Dublin is a member here and I’ve been lucky enough to play Muirfield Village twice, once just after the Memorial and the once later in the season. On both occasions I thought the course and facility was truly world class but, similar to Augusta, the layout seems bare without the stands and tournament hullabaloo. In my view this is a more exciting layout than Augusta with more risk and reward options on many holes. What it lacks, perhaps, as does Augusta, is a more open guest policy as it is so sad that more people cannot savour such a magnificent course.