50 Words or Less
The recently renovated Course Two at Medinah Country Club is tremendous fun for golfers of every ability level. Tees from 3000 yards to over 6400 yards make it accessible to all.
Medinah Country Club carries a lofty reputation in the world of golf and for good reason. Course Three has been host to a trio of Western Opens and US Opens, a pair of PGA Championships, a Ryder Cup, and an upcoming BMW Championship. What has me more excited, though, is their recently restored Course Two. Rees Jones has done a masterful job bringing back Tom Bendelow’s design, and with it, fun and playability for more golfers.
Medinah Country Club is, unsurprisingly, home to beautiful practice facilities. Directly behind the clubhouse, you’ll find a large putting surface that makes you appreciate just how pure a green can be. A short cart ride takes you to an enormous grass range and short game area.
Additionally, Medinah has recently completed a new teaching facility where members can practice year round.
At 6,400 yards from the tips, Course Two doesn’t require a ton of length but accuracy is important. Most of the fairways are defined by trees, but the tree lines are quite thin. Over 600 trees were removed in the restoration, so even if you miss a fairway, you’ll have a way to get back into the hole.
If you play from the right set of tees, you should have the opportunity to hit drives with a variety of clubs. There aren’t too many fairway bunkers, but there are enough to make you think twice about pulling driver on every hole.
The playability of Course 2 becomes even more evident on the approach shot. The fairways are largely flat, making approach shots easier if you drive it accurately. Even if you find a fairway bunker, they’re shallow enough to play from without trouble.
What makes the approach shots most inviting is that the ball can be run up to the green on almost every hole.
Though nearly every green is protected by bunkers, they’re left, right, or long of the green. This is ideal for the “short but straight” player and keeps the challenge in the game for the player with adequate length.
Greens & Surrounds
The greens at Course Two are the key to the design. Almost every green is sloped from back to front making them more receptive to the running shot. This also encourages players looking to score well to keep their approaches below the hole.
While the greens are banked to welcome low shots, they are not designed to yield piles of birdies. There’s plenty of break on these newly-enlarged putting surfaces, and it has a major impact on strategy. The more severe greens and pin placements will punish golfers who get out of position.
Around the green, you’ll find nothing but tightly mowed chipping areas. This brings every type of short game shot into play, including putting from some distance away.
Finally, like the fairway bunkers, the sand traps around the green are intentionally shallow. This makes them not only easier to play out of, but also easier to walk in and out of.
#18 – Par 5
Easily my favorite hole on Course Two. At 487 from the tips, length is not its main defense. However, if you don’t place your drive on the left side of the fairway, the dogleg blocks you from attacking the green in two. Even if you have the right angle, you need to think twice: there’s a very steep run off to the left and back that could put your ball in the water. In addition to being strategically fun, this is the prettiest hole on the course.
#9 – Par 4
The hole with the only forced-carry approach is a favorite of mine for the way it embodies some of the best things about the course. Take a look at the green and you can see how a steep run up to the shallow putting surface is paired with a steep backboard behind the green. That backboard won’t guarantee a birdie for the better player, but it will help the player who hits a low shot with a little too much power.
My single favorite thing about the hole is the placement of the forward tees: right in front of the water hazard. These tees allow the shorter player to successfully clear the hazard by putting their ball on a peg. A potential point of massive frustration is now an opportunity for a huge success. Why can’t every course be like this?
If you have the opportunity to play at Medinah Country Club, by all means, play Course Three. It’s the major venue, and you’ll get a thrill seeing the plates in the ground that commemorate some of the best shots hit there. But after you recover, head out for a round on Course Two to see what the future of golf looks like. And don’t be surprised if it ends up being the loop you enjoy more.