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.
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.
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.
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.