The Ryder Cup is a showcase of some of the world's greatest professional golfers, but the event also has a long-lasting effect on many amateur players -- the members of the club that hosts it.
With Medinah Country Club getting set to host the September tournament, its members are receiving the benefits that come with increased exposure.
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As part of the Daily Herald's continuing series leading up to the 2012 Ryder Cup, we spoke with Mike Lombardo, who has been a Medinah member since 1984. Lombardo, who is an assistant chair of the Ryder Cup committee, discusses the club's preparations for the event, talks about the involvement of members, and reflects on his memories of the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah and what it meant to the members and the region.
Q. What benefits has Medinah provided for its members as part of hosting the Ryder Cup?
A. Members have the first opportunity to volunteer and first opportunity at tickets. Most of the members are involved with the tournament. Most of them are volunteering. That really gets us on the inside of it. You're up close and personal.
This only comes to the United States every four years. To be the host club is a tremendous honor. It has such a tremendous impact on our surrounding communities. We're also really excited to have an opportunity to go to the gala.
Q. What major changes have there been around the club?
A. The most significant change has been our 15th hole. We remodeled that whole hole, made it a drivable par four, so it's at a very crucial point in the match where a player might decide to go for it. The previous hole was a traditional two-shot par four, where with the new hole, the professional players, should they decide to reach the green with their drive, if they miss the shot, there's water that's involved. It's a risk-reward type hole. It's a real interesting hole, particularly because it comes late in the match.
Q. With the publicity that comes with the Ryder Cup, have you noticed more interest from others in the club?
A. Every member out there has had requests from everyone they know coming out of the woodwork.
There's always a lot of interest in other golfers wanting to play Medinah. It certainly heightens when we host a major championship. Even from other clubs outside the state, we get a lot of requests from people wanting to play Medinah.
Q. What drawbacks are there to hosting the tournament?
A. As a club, we decided to host the tournament. There's definitely going to be some inconveniences, but I'd never call them drawbacks. We don't get to play the course for a couple weeks, but that's minor. There's so many positive things that have already come out of this and will come out of this.
Q. What are your memories of the PGA Championship in 2006?
A. That was another great tournament. That was the second PGA we hosted that Tiger Woods was in contention. He won for the second time at Medinah. I was lucky. I worked at the media center, so I had a chance to see many of those interviews that you see on TV, talk to some of the players, and had the opportunity to meet them.
Q. With Tiger's past success at Medinah and his improved recent play, how much intrigue will he bring to the event, if chosen to the team?
A. Tiger's always a hot topic, and he has been ever since he came on the team. The interest level has always been there. I think he's going to be a big part of the team.