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Ryder Cup @ Medinah No. 3 – Harder than Hazeltine

Ryder Cup @ Medinah No. 3 – Harder than Hazeltine

Like many golfers, I’m looking forward to watching this weekend’s Ryder Cup matches at Medinah Country Club. While I’m interested in seeing if the United States can win the cup back, if Tiger can provide some heroics to make up for a year without a major and whether the Europeans are simply tougher than the Americans, I’m also very interested in watching the golf course.

What I see will again show just how different of a game these guys play than what the rest of us play. That’s pretty obvious every time you watch golf on TV, but I expect it to be crystal clear this week.

A little more than a year ago, I played Medinah No. 3 for the first time. Simply put, it is the hardest golf course I have ever played. I blogged about it then and it remains true today. To put it in perspective for my fellow Minnesotans, I think Medinah No. 3 is certainly more difficult than Hazeltine National for an average golfer.

tiger woods and steve stricker at medinah for 2012 ryder cupStricker and Woods, Tuesday at Medinah
I say that because while Hazeltine is certainly very difficult, it doesn’t have the same challenges off of the fairway.

medinah country club clubhouseMedinah Clubhouse
Here’s a paragraph I wrote about Medinah:

“You need to hit the ball straight, you need to move it out there a little bit and you — more than anything — have to keep your ball out of the trees. If you hit the ball in the trees, you can probably find it, but you probably aren’t going to like it. A lot of the trees are hundreds of years old. If you wanted to hug them, you couldn’t get your hands to touch on the other side. And going over them isn’t an option at all.”

I’m looking forward to watching these guys hit shots to places that I’m not familiar on this 7,658 monster. I also expect that these guys won’t hit it in the trees too frequently. But if they do, I think it will be difficult for players to get a half of a hole if they are in the trees. That will be something to consider.

medinah country clubsVisit for more stunning photos of Medinah CC

Some things to consider as you watch it at home:

    • Three of the four par 3s play over parts of Lake Kadijah, but don’t believe the hype that they are all the same hole. They play very different distances, the miss is in different places, the shot shape required is different as is the elevation change.


    • No. 15 – a short par 4 that can be driven if the tees are up a little bit – is going to be very interesting. The hole has been rebuilt since the 2006 PGA Championship was at Medinah. It can play as short as 290 and is only 390 from the very back. There is water along the right side of the fairway and short of the green. There are also some cool chipping areas right and long of the green. You’ll also see a small village of corporate tents and grandstands here. I think it will be a great hole for match play because a par might not be enough to get a half.


    • You’ve obviously seen the highlights from ’99 of Sergio hitting around the tree and skipping up the hill on 16. Well, that tree is no longer there. It died several years ago. But it is still a very solid par 4.


    • Course setup will be interesting. U.S. captain Davis Love III has spent a lot of time at Medinah this year and has worked with the grounds crew. Because this is a home game for the Americans, Love will have a role in determining where tees go and how the golf course plays. This Wall Street Journal story about Ryder Cup course setup indicates that Love may want the course to play somewhat easy so his team can make birdies and get the American fans fired up.


Whatever happens, it should be a great weekend of golf, one that hopefully will go down to the end on Sunday.

Read More from Jeff on his golf blog

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