Familiar ground

Jack develops the land he once hunted on as a kid

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Familiar ground

Jack develops the land he once hunted on as a kid

Jack Nicklaus was quite familiar with the land that good friend Ivor Young had brought to his attention as a possible site to build Muirfield Village. Nicklaus had roamed the area as a kid, joining his dad on hunting excursions that were more productive for bonding than collecting game.

“Never shot much,” Nicklaus said, “but we hunted it. An occasional rabbit we’d scare or something like that. I think we thought we were going to scare some pheasant but we didn’t scare many of those.”

From a golf course perspective, Nicklaus — and his site consultant, Pete Dye — saw plenty of opportunity in the plot of land in Dublin, Ohio. Lots of large trees and fields, good drainage and two long creeks that ran through the property. Those creeks were pivotal to Nicklaus’ design, as almost every hole on the course is connected to one of the creeks.

When I first saw it, it was a lot of fields, and a lot of trees. I walked it, and I hunted it with my dad and some of my friends.”

— Jack Nicklaus

“It’s a pretty site,” said Nicklaus, who had worked on just nine golf course designs prior to taking on Muirfield Village. “When I saw it, I liked the way it flowed through the valleys, and I knew I wanted to create a gallery golf course. The valleys were wide enough to accommodate that goal.

“I can’t say I was a golf course designer because I didn’t have much experience. I just liked the property.”

His instincts were right.

Dye called it “the best site I’ve ever seen that doesn’t have mountains or the ocean. The best inland site I’ve ever seen.”