Thursday, June 03, 2010

A Special Week And A Special Place: Jack's Place

Having just spent a couple of days at Muirfield Village Golf Club on the eve of The Memorial Tournament, I was reminded of what a tremendous place it is.

It starts, of course, with Jack Nicklaus. It was his vision to create a special club and course in his hometown and Muirfield Village has grown into a place that transcends its boundaries. It's a club known around the golf world for both the course and its style.

The Nicklaus spirit is alive there. Walk through the clubhouse and it's impossible to miss the Nicklaus influence with reminders of his career dotting hallways, locker rooms and grill rooms. But it's the relaxed feel of the place that helps distinguish Muirfield Village.

There's an almost old-school feel to the tournament, which underplays the corporate and commercial side of professional golf. Try to find a sign promoting the FedEx Cup and you may spend the day looking.

With his wife, Barbara, and sons Jack and Steve helping run the Memorial, Nicklaus has created one of the special weeks on the PGA Tour. There's a reason Tiger, Phil and nine of the top 10 players on the PGA Tour money list are at Muirfield Village this week and it's not all because Nicklaus is the host, though that's certainly part of it.

The golf course is the one for which Nicklaus, the designer, will be remembered and for good reason. It's big, long and tough but it's also beautiful. A walk around Muirfield Village, with its hills and creeks and cavernous bunkers is like a stroll through a park, particularly if you're watching rather than playing.

Nicklaus doesn't play much golf anymore but he has remained a powerful presence in the game. When he speaks, people listen. He has made himself a model as a person and a player and his record on both looks greater now than ever.

This is one of the weeks on the PGA Tour schedule that stands apart from most others. It's because of Nicklaus and what he and his family have created at Muirfield Village.