As the calendar turns to June, the PGA Tour makes its way to the Midwest and Jack Nicklaus’ design at Muirfield Village, host site of this week’s Memorial Tournament.
This year, the stakes are ever higher at the Memorial, because it’s a designated event with a world-class field and $3.6 million going to the winner. And the a champion will be decided on a course that just a couple of years ago looked nothing like it does now.
Let’s rewind to 2019, which is when Nicklaus, whose Nicklaus Companies has built or renovated more than 400 courses worldwide, decided to put his final touches on the course he founded in 1974.
At first, Nicklaus told Chad Mark, the director of grounds operations at Muirfield, that he was thinking of redoing the greens. That led to a lengthy drive around the golf course — and lots more ideas.
“At the end of that trip he said, ‘You know what, I’m not getting any younger. I’d really like to do this,'” Mark said. “[He] started talking about fairway bunkers and greenside bunkers and regrassing the fairways and rebuilding tees, and how that relates to the Tour and how that relates to the members. … It’s going to be a chance for him to put his last touch on everything he wants to see here forever.”
Work started on the final day of the 2020 Memorial and was completed before the 2021 event returned.
“I don’t think when we are done with it it is going to be a tougher golf course, it’s just going to be a better golf course,” Nicklaus said during construction. “And that’s what I want, I want a better golf course for the membership.”
And how did it turn out?
“A different golf course,” Nicklaus said. “A totally different golf course. You’ll see it right away.”
GOLF.com embedded with Nicklaus and his design team throughout the lengthy renovation project. Check out the video at the top of this article — which is available only to InsideGOLF members — to go behind the scenes of what the process was like.