MEDINAH’S NEW COURSE #3 RENOVATION-HOW AND WHY

IN THE DOME or in the SIMULATOR. The golf season is now never ending in the Chicago area. So if you have some free time around the holidays, and want to test out your new clubs. Do you need to get ready for the winter trip down south. MISTWOOD Golf Dome with McWethy’s Sports Bar is the Chicago area’s premier golf dome located on Rt. 53 in Bolingbrook. Open daily until 10 PM, see Mistwoodgolfdome.com or call the dome at (630)-739-7600. The SCHAUMBURG Golf Club one of the first area clubs with three simulators & home to Chandlers Chophouse. Is located at 401 N. Roselle Road, minutes from Woodfield Mall. Learn more at Schaumburggolf.com or (847)-885-9000.

THE MEDINAH CLUB HOUSE recently rated by Golf Digest as one of the best clubhouses in America.

BY RORY SPEARS: Director of Content and Creation, for Golfers on Golf.

Follow Rory on Twitter @GogBlogGuy or connect with him on LinkedIn or Facebook.

THIS PAST SATURDAY the Medinah Country Club voted to renovate it’s famed Course #3. Course #3 has been a long time America’s Top 100 golf course, and major renovations aren’t always seen on courses of this nature.

The master plan for the Medinah Course #3 renovation, created by OCM golf of Australia.

So why is Medinah #3 under-going this renovation.

As the 2019 BMW Championship unfolded on Course #3, and 70 of the best players in the world were shooting low scores not always seen in major championships at Medinah. It did not take long before talk started.

Whether it was on social media, in the media tent or galleries on the golf course, comments were heard that Medinah members will be talking renovation within days of the championship ending. The need to toughen the course up before another championship comes to Medinah, would need to be done. Justin Thomas won the trophy, and took home the first place check with the winning score of 25 under par.

25 under par, on Medinah #3 ? really how. With the 2020 BMW Championship already scheduled for the Olympia Fields North Course, which is no push-over. Word was that some Olympia Fields members saw the Medinah scores and predicted scores would hit 30 under par at their club. But U.S. Open style deep rough at Olympia Fields last year, kept scores higher than expected.

Justin Thomas with the BMW Championship, won the 2019 BMW Championship with a 72-hole score of 25 under par.

But when you give the best players in the world near perfect weather and courses conditions, they are going to go low, and at Medinah they did just that.

Regardless of the low scores during BMW week, it didn’t take long for Medinah to review what happened.

Joe Gattone who was serving as the club president at the time, brought together the clubs board and committee chairman to discuss the future of the golf course. The discussion led to the decision, that is was time for Course # 3 to get better. But also tougher for the professionals, and more enjoyable for the members and their guests. With that, the search began for the right firm and right architects to handle the project.

To lead the search, a committee was formed to present the club with the right architects who could design a master plan to move course #3 forward. That committee became former Medinah past president Brian DeAngelo, who led the Course #1 and Course # 2 renovation committees. Michael Scimo, another past president of the club who led the club’s 2020 transformation project. Scimo will also serve at the clubs chairman for the 2026 President’s Cup. Gattone, who Scimo said was extremely helpful on the financial side of the planning for the project. Ryan Potts a former Division 1 college golfer at the University of Illinois, currently Potts is a board member and chairman of the greens committee.

AFTER THE VOTE PASSED it was Scimo, who first spoke with Golfers on Golf back on December 20th of 2020, to explain the series of events, that led the selection of Australian golf architecture firm OCM to handle the project. Scimo was kind enough to speak with us again after last weekends vote passed.

FIRST ON THE TEE, who is OCM, and why would a historic club like Medinah, bring in Australian firm like OCM with a limited background in the USA, to work on Course #3.

OCM-GOLF is former U.S. Open Champion Geoff Ogilvy, who won the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot when Phil Mickelson and a few others didn’t. Two other key members of the OCM team are Mike Cocking and Ashley Mead. What surprised the Medinah committee was the great initial presentation that OCM made, through video’s, emails and Zoom calls, since Covid-19 started just months into the search, and travel restrictions affected the OCM team from at first coming to Medinah.

In fact while Ogilvy played at Medinah during the 2006 PGA Championship, he hasn’t made it on property during the entire recent renovation process leading into last weekends vote. But Cocking and Mead have been to Medinah, only to have issues getting back home this fall when increased travel restrictions were added to Australia.

The OCM Golf logo.

BUT LATE In 2020, when OCM first emerged as the front runner in the renovation project, you can guess the reaction that some people and club members had.

Why an Australian firm ? Would Medinah #3 a classic parkland course, soon be cutting down all it’s trees and going to a linksy look with dunes and styles found on famed courses around the United Kingdom (UK).

There was plenty of thought that heavy architect hitters like Gil Hanse, Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw, Medinah Course #1 renovation architect Tom Doak, Keith Foster, Jack Nicklaus, or the new team of former USGA CEO Mike Davis and the Fazio Group would get the nod. But while Scimo wouldn’t say who the other finalists were, he did say that OCM Golf “beat out the other four finalists they were competing against.

THE VIDEO sent to the Medinah membership for review is now posted online at the OCMgolf.com website. It’s really worth a look if you want to see how Course #3 will look after it reopens for play in late spring of 2024. The OCM website also has the master plan approved by the club (pictured above). That plan includes a five-hole short course, and a large new putting green near the first tee of Course #3.

THE VOTE according to Scimo brought a record turnout to the club on a Saturday in December. Scimo explained Medinah’s voting procedure on a capital project. First up voting members must be present (there are no mail-in, email-in or zoom votes), and that junior members (basically under the age of 40) do not have voting privileges.

But that group was heard. A group that includes 2021 Illinois Open Champion T-K Kelly. Kelly’s mom Blue Kelly, a Medinah women’s club champion read a statement the group drafted. Reports are that Kelly aced her speech.

The par 4-18th hole sets up for the 2019 BMW Championship. 18 will now play as a par 5 for the members.

THE VOTE needed a 2/3 majority to pass. It received an over 80% approval.

Scimo could not give exact numbers on the vote total. But some reports have the totals at just over 300 yes votes, with the no count somewhere around 80. With that the vote passed.

A press release sent out yesterday, said the cost of this amazing new project, would be $23.5 million dollars.

But the cost is broken down in this manner. $10.5 million on the golf course, $8 million for infrastructure, and $5 million in lost revenue while the course is shut down.

With that Medinah #3 originally designed by Tom Bendelow, and past host of three U.S.  Opens (1949, 1975, 1990), U.S. Senior Open (1988), two PGA Championships (1999, 2006), the Ryder Cup (2012), the BMW Championship in 2019, and future site for the 2026 Presidents Cup will be changed. Course play in 2022 will be through the end of September, with the course closed in 2023.

“It is with great excitement that I can announce that the members voted with overwhelming approval of the Course #3 Master Plan,” said club president William Kuehn. “This renovation is especially timely as the club looks forward to hosting the 2026 Presidents Cup.”

“We feel incredibly humbled and honored that the Medinah Country Club membership voted in favor of our plan, it’s a huge sign of confidence that the members are as excited with our concept as we are, and we can’t wait to get planning started in 2022,” said Ogilvy.

Geoff Ogilvy of OCM Golf

So what issues are getting addressed in the renovation.

How did OCM Golf become a front runner in the clubs renovation process.

During the renovation three new holes will get constructed. Is it true that the main body of work will be on the back-nine.

But what changes could happen on the front nine. What about par, will it change. Is it true that the 18th hole will become a par 5. Will the three par 3’s that all play over water, be any different. How comfortable is the PGA Tour that runs the Presidents Cup, with this project. What will be the tree removal plan, and how much longer will the course play when the renovation is complete.

Golfers on Golf spoke with Michael Scimo, about the renovation project.

PART 1 of our interview with Medinah Course #3 committee member Michael Scimo. Running time 19 minutes.

THE SECOND PART of the interview with Scimo covers more of the proposed changes to Course #3, with what could happen down the road on the professional tournament side.

PART 2 of the interview with Michael Scimo, on the Medinah Course #3 renovations. Running time 13 minutes 36 seconds.

IT’S NOT just the cost that makes this renovation one of the most significant projects in golf architecture. But the future opportunities it could present for major golf championships in the Chicago area.

Because this renovation could bring a U.S. Open back to the Chicago in the window of years 2030-2032, which would be the first in 27-30 years. Might a Ryder Cup return around 2042, some 30 years after the first one at Medinah in 2012.  Might the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs return, and could that event be the Tour Championship.

WHAT WILL IT MEAN for OCM Golf, will it cement them as one of the major golf architecture firms in the world. Might OCM become a bigger player in course design on projects the United States.

FOR ADDITIONAL information and historical details on the Medinah’s Course #3. Visit Illinoisgolfer.net and see Tim Cronin’s story on the project. Cronin authored Medinah’s 100 year centennial book.

ILLINOIS GOLF HALL of FAME Class of 2019 inductee Len Ziehm, will co-host this weeks Ziehm & Spears 2021 Podcast Series. That will feature the Medinah #3 renovation.

Golfers on Golf will continue to follow this story as it develops. RS

This entry was posted in News by Rory Spears. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rory Spears

Rory spent over 8 years growing up working at Rob Roy Golf Club in Prospect Hts.IL, then two years at Chevy Chase in Wheeling. He has covered golf in Chicago since 1986. Rory was one of the initial members of WSCR all-sports radio Chicago and covered golf there for 5 seasons, before moving on to work for ESPN/Sportsticker and ESPN Radio. In addition to hosting Golfers on Golf Radio on WCPT AM820 Chicago, he writes for both the Chicago District (CDGA) Magazine, and formerly Chicagoland Golf. Rory has played over 525 courses in 39 states, and rates golf courses. He does golf course management and communications consulting, within the golf industry.