Journey to Augusta – Muirfield Village Golf Club #14

with No Comments

Muirfield Village Golf Club – April 22nd 2014

Going into Sunday, I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to watch the golf being played at “Jack’s Place” in Dublin, Ohio.  However, Saturday afternoon afforded me a bit of TV time (after a huge house cleaning in preparation for my son’s baptism) and I was pleased to be able to watch a local product, Scott Langley, hot in contention and, entering the final round, 1 shot off the lead of Bubba Watson.  I was pumped to be able to watch on Sunday afternoon to see how a new, up-and-coming star (and not to mention all-around great guy) was going to do on Sunday.  Alas, it was not to be, but still a great showing and here’s hoping for a strong 36 today in sectional US Open qualifying down in Memphis.

And oh yeah, it gave me a little bit of time to reminisce on my round on the spectacular layout back in April.  May I present to you…


Muirfield Village Golf Club

#14: America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses (Golf Digest 2013-2014)
#53: World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses (Golf Digest 2013-2014)

 

Upon arrival, the security guard greeted me warmly and thought I was a new member (man, I wish!).  He informed me that the course was WIDE OPEN that Tuesday morning, with only one other group on the course.  He didn’t tip me off on who it was, but I was quick to put 1 and 1 together when I saw my keys hanging next to his at the valet stand…

muirfield village golf club

Yup, Super Mario, Mario Lemieux was in town as his Penguins were taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Nothing like checking out your awesome Nissan Sentra parked next to a gorgeous, white Escalade and wondering why Hertz didn’t offer THAT ride to you.  I’m not a huge hockey fan, but I remember watching him play growing up and was a huge fan of his, so it was fun to know I’d be sharing the course with him.

After getting settled in, my caddy and I headed up to the range.  A three-tiered masterpiece the range at Muirfield Village Golf Club is gigantic with more targets than I’ve ever seen in my life. Even compared to some other PGA stops I’ve played along the way.  No joke, I’m pretty sure a thousand people could warm up at the same time on this range. VERY lucky members!

muirfield village golf club

After that incredible warm up session it was on to the first tee and my first poor shot of this mini-trip.  However, we got it back in play eventually and my approach found the green (in 4) from the fairway.

muirfield village golf club

A two-putt from there left me with a silly double bogey to start the round.  From there it was a climb uphill to the 2nd tee (the story of the day – it’s amazing how hard the walk is on these courses when you do it in person versus watching on TV, and I even love to walk!).  But when I got up the hill, the view of the 2nd is spectacular…

muirfield village golf club

A strong drive down the right hand side gave me a good angle to a front left pin.  A wedge approach and I was beginning my recovery from the bad start.  Next up was the short par-4 3rd where I made a mistake a hit the ball into the right rough, up on a hill.

muirfield village golf club

Hitting a wedge over a lake off a downhill lie was daunting to say the least.  But I got the ball to somehow stop on the green and have a good run at birdie that just passed by.  And a great save from the back bunker on 4 had me go to the par-5 5th at 2-over after 4 holes.  Not bad recovery from the double at the 1st.

After a well struck drive down the left side of the fairway, I was left with a gorgeous look into the green, and a very daunting decision.  Go for the green or layup?  Hell, I’m at Muirfield Village, there is no laying up!  I hit my 3 wood pin high in the right rough and hit a GORGEOUS flop shot to within a foot of the pin.  A nice birdie and back to 1-over.

muirfield village golf club

It was here where we got our first glimpse of the grandstands going up for the Memorial tournament that just concluded.  Also another beautiful hole that I had a shot iron into the green, but completely blocked and ended up 3-putting (a pet peeve of mine).  Not the way to back up a birdie…

muirfield village golf club

The next hole was the par-5 7th, where my caddy told me that Tiger Woods two years ago hit 3 wood and wedge onto the green in the pro-am round (I’ll leave you to figure out how long a hole this is in the tournament and be amazed).  This distracting piece is why I probably forgot to take a picture.  I chose driver, 3-wood, and then a 58 degree wedge.  Guess who made the same score as Tiger?  Yup, another par-5 birdie after knocking it to literally inches.  Love it!

This took us to the short 8th, framed by bunkers.  It is an absolutely gorgeous hole and another strong par.  And just off the left of the hole sits Jack’s house on the course, which I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of since the trees weren’t completely full.  Just beautiful (first the hole, then the house)…

muirfield village golf club

muirfield village golf club

The 9th and 10th holes were both brutes, and resulted in two bogeys apiece.  The 11th hole was also a bit rough on me, but it was a gorgeous tee shot and walk up the fairway, of which I got the first glimpse of the only other group on the course…

muirfield village golf club

muirfield village golf club

Next up was a beautiful par-3 over water that reminded me of Augusta.  Just gorgeous!  And as a piece of advice, don’t accidentally almost hit a guy on a mower when you are a guest of the Club for the day…

muirfield village golf club

Okay, so after 12 holes (the last 4 being pretty rough), I was sitting at 5-over on the day.  I was able to turn things around by making a nice par on the 13th as we headed into the short par-4 14th (yes, that double bogey hole that cost Rory a 61).  Well, it is beautiful to say the least, but it only cost me a bogey…

muirfield village golf club

The walk towards the 15th tee afforded a great view through the trees to the 18th and the clubhouse in the background.  Just absolutely gorgeous!

muirfield village golf club

I’m not sure how the pros were hitting such short clubs in on their second shots, but then again, they also weren’t intimidated by the tightest driving hole on the course like I was.  I hacked my way up the hole and made another bogey, which put me at 7-over for the day heading to the renovated par-3 16th hole with a new lake in front of the green.

muirfield village golf club

I think that the new hole is fantastic, and you were able to get a glimpse of how the lake came into play during the tournament, especially in the final round.  I, however, was able to successfully find the green and had a nice run at birdie just slide past.  Alas, a par, and my hopes of firing in the 70s consecutive days at Oakmont and Muirfield Village was still alive.

On the 17th hole, I hit a bomb of a drive, and, gasp!, had to wait for Mario’s group to putt out… I mean, really?  I had to wait and watch one of the greatest of all time finish out the hole… Unfortunate, huh?

muirfield village golf club

Instead of joking about hitting into them or being in awe of who was in front of me, I should have paid more attention to my shot.  I spun one down back into the bank in the front of the green and had a tough up-and-down.  A bogey meant that I would have to birdie 18 (ha!) to keep my hopes alive for consecutive 70s.

The walk up 18 was wonderful (besides knowing that I was in one of the 9 bunkers on the right).  My caddy shared stories about how much Jack hates it when the pros carry all 9 bunkers, so he has continued to expand them.  He said that most pros during practice rounds will hit 3-wood just to stay on Jack’s good side (love it!).  However, one flashy pro (and by flashy I mean he wears a lot of orange – he actually seems like a wonderful young pro and role model) was not aware of this “tradition” and bombed it over all bunkers the first time he played here with Jack.  Priceless!

Muirfield Village

As for me, I hit a great bunker shot that would have landed in the gallery just beyond the 18th hole.  From there I hit, “one of the best flop shots I’ve ever seen” (my caddy), to afford myself a tap-in putt for par and a round of 80.  Not bad at all!

All in all, this was one special round.  The course was incredibly well manicured (being only 1 month from the Memorial tournament) and everyone I met was extremely warm and welcoming.  I didn’t go bother Mr. Lemieux in the grill room afterwards, but it was still a cool experience seeing him up-close and personal. It was a fantastic day at Muirfield Village Golf Club that ended in me shooting an 80 from the back tees, 74.1/148  no, not those back tees, the pros really ARE that good………

Follow Andrew Ganey:

Join me on my "Journey to Augusta" with the help of my good friend Mathew. I am a single-digit handicap looking to play (and write about) all the top courses in the US. I am looking to make all sorts of new friends that share my passion for this great game while playing all the finest courses in the US. I look forward to setting up my next game anywhere, anytime!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!