Jack once said he would pass time between shots by imagining how to redesign the hole he was playing. Muirfield Village, host of the Memorial, is to Nicklaus as Pinehurst was to Ross. Borrowing its name from the classic Scottish Links, and built to emulate the feel of Augusta, Muirfield has been the ambition of a Golden Bear who no doubt drew upon those design daydreams between the shots from every course he played.
Golfers’ intimate connection with the courses they have played turn even amateurs into armchair architects. This raises the question, do better players make better architects?
The vast and varied international experience of traveling on Tour lends its hand in favour of such players being good architects. Sure there are celebrity architects who provide only their signatures to the marketing brochures and ceremonial tee shots, rather than valuable insights. However, from past to present notable names have excelled at the craft of creating the courses as much as they have on playing them. From James Braid and Bobby Jones, to modern day Davis Love III and Ben Crenshaw, players have translated their love for the game into creative and artistic masterpieces.
Jack was 32 when Muirfield was been constructed, and now Tiger, the only man debated to be a better golfer is also 32. What else could be better to do when recovering from knee surgery? While Tiger has yet to find his own Muirfield or Pinehurst, his first project Al Ruwaya in Dubai is slated to open in late 2009.
And Annika, like always, is breaking the mold. When it comes to the LPGA few players have made the transition to design. Though she may have announced her retirement, we know she’ll never leave the game. Pursuing several projects she is already spanning worldwide, from Mission Hills, in Shenzhen China to Patriot Point Links in South Carolina she is also collaborating with Canadian designer Thomas McBroom in the BC Interior.
This weekend in Ohio, the Tour will challenge one of the greatest courses ever created by one of its own. As Jack says "I set out to build not only an outstanding golf course for every level of player, but a magnificent course for watching a tournament…I thought the Masters was a great thing for golf and that I’d like to do the same thing in Columbus".