In general, what had to be done to Medinah in comparison with what you did at other major championship courses.
I liken this redesign project to what we did at The Country Club at Brookline [Mass.], where we took a very old, storied layout that had a lot of history. I liken it to the Sacred Ground of Golf. Medinah was already ahead of the curve. It had the length, it had the green contours, it had great holes. We didn't have to add that much length, but we did take out about 300 trees.
Trees are organic, and they tend to grow in where the sunlight is, so that was another restoration project, to bring the golf course back to the way it had been in the past. The players will notice a different course from '99 to 2006.
What will they see that will be different?
They'll see a course that has more definition because we took some of the blindness out on No. 1 and No. 8. We took out the bunker on No. 16. We brought the 17th green down to the water, and we took the tee back. Then on 18, we made a major change. We elevated the green and took the tee back. It'll probably be a short iron [approach] with the way these guys are hitting it, but it's going to be a much more precise shot.
The par-3 17th hole has become controversial because it has been changed so much. It has been a completely different hole for each of the last four majors played at Medinah. What went into the design of the current hole?
We put [the green] back on the hazard. We only have three holes that bring the water into play. We were able to bring the green back down to the water, regrade the hill [where the tee complex is located] and make the hole as long as it was [with a new tee]. We accomplished both goals -- we got the water into play, the ultimate hazard, as well as maintained the yardage.
Today nearly everyone plays a coarse and vulgar pitch which punches a hole in the green. With the exception of the Old Course at St. Andrews and few similar courses, there is rarely any necessity to play any other kind of shot. Golfers are losing the joy of playing the variety of approach shots that were so necessary in the old days. ALISTER MACKENZIE