Jack Nicklaus plans to Make Massive Changes to Muirfield Village

All PGA Tour courses fight the continuing onslaught of long hitters like Matthew Wolff, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. Gone are the days of old with Nicklaus, Palmer, and Player. Only a few tracks are able to adjust their courses by adding more length.

Some courses, like Augusta National, have been forced to purchase adjacent land and/or have worked out deals with neighbors for land use. Jack Nicklaus is fortunate that Muirfield Village GC has sufficient land to be able to make changes now, and he’s getting ready to do just that. On the Fred Couples PGA Tour Radio show this week, he detailed some of what he has in mind for alterations at one of his quintessential courses.

Nicklaus began by saying that they had already intended to redo the greens after the tournament this year and admitted that a 15- minute conversation about greens led him into quite an expansive and expensive renovation of most of the course.

In addition to redoing all 18 greens, they will resurface fairways and redo many bunkers. Several bunkers will be added strategically.

When talking with Couples, Nicklaus mentioned that he was adding 30 yards to the first hole, a lovely downhill par four. They are also moving the green to the left.

On the fourth hole, an additional 20 yards will be added. Currently, the hole is a stout, 200-yard, par 3.

On the 5th hole, a par five with a fairway split by a creek, the landing area will be enlarged. In addition, for the tournament, the hole will become a par 4, changing the overall par of the course to 71 instead of the current 72.

Golfers currently use a 3-wood or iron off the tee to avoid the creek. With the hole playing just 527, the second shot is a mid-iron. The way the hole plays has changed over the years. It is now, due to the equipment improvements, become a very short par five. However, the tilted green has long been one of its strengths. In the first year of the tournament, Tour players were sometimes hard-pressed to keep the ball on the putting surface.

On the 6th hole, another bunker will be added to Muirfield Village, Nicklaus told Couples.

The 9th green will be modified.

On the back nine, the 11th will be lengthened 20 yards, and the green will be moved.

The 15th will get 30 more yards, and the edges of the golf hole will be smoothed out so that the creek on the left comes into play more often.

The finishing holes will also get a few tweaks here and there.

All this and more will happen before the 2021 Memorial Tournament.

According to Nicholas LaRocca, the general manager of the club, sub-surface heating and cooling will be installed for the greens.

Long a proponent of restricting the length the golf ball flies, Nicklaus’ comments have gone unheeded by the regulating organizations of the game, much to his dismay. One result of that is PGA Tour courses have become obsolete for play by the best in the world who can take advantage of the marvels of club and ball technology. Drives that go more than 350 yards turn a par five of 550 into a medium length par four, as has happened with the 5th hole at Muirfield Village.

Nicklaus was the original co-designer at Muirfield Village GC along with Desmond Muirhead. The course was opened in 1974, and the first Memorial Tournament was played in 1976. Over time, Nicklaus’ expertise in course design grew and he made numerous subtle changes to the course on his own.

With this next set of changes, Nicklaus intends to take, as he said to Couples, one more swipe at providing a challenge for the best in the world. We will all see the result next spring.