You'd think this big-tournament-hosting stuff would be old hat to Medinah Country Club.
Since 1949, the venerable golf club has held three U.S. Opens, a U.S. Senior Open and two PGA Championships, half of them in the past 25 years. But even the movers and shakers seem in awe of what it means to host a Ryder Cup, which comes Sept. 25-30 to the course surrounded by Lake Street, Medinah and Irving Park roads and Route 53.
In a story by golf writer Mike Spellman a few days ago, Ryder Cup Chairman Don Larson described the international golf event as something that will approach "three times the magnitude" of the PGA, one of golf's four majors. But a tidbit that really brought it home to me was how Hale Irwin -- winner of the 1990 U.S. Open at Medinah who famously ran around the 18th green high-fiving the gallery after draining an absurdly long putt to tie for the championship -- was schmoozing Larson for Ryder Cup tickets earlier this year.
So, with something this big in our backyard, I guess it's time for the Daily Herald to spring into action and start writing some stories about the event. That's a joke, of course. Go to dailyherald.com, enter "Ryder Cup" in the search engine, and you'll find dozens of Ryder Cup stories, many written by Spellman and our golf columnist, Len Ziehm. But with the tournament a little more than five weeks away, it's time for the news staff to get seriously involved to bring you stories that go beyond the golf and delve into the impact of the event on the community.
Hard to believe it was just 22 years ago when Medinah hosted the U.S. Open, our national golf championship. I was the fledging DuPage County editor, and this was the first major (pun intended) story to come my way. Of course, we pulled out the stops, and wrote stories about Medinah, its residents (Medinah is not just the club; it's also an unincorporated area of about 2,000 residents), nearby businesses (not all of whom saw the commotion as a plus), economic impact on the area. My personal favorite was a piece on a Medinah member who moved himself and his family out of their house to make way for some guy named Nicklaus. Still love the lead on that story:
"For rent: Furnished, two-story, five-bedroom Tudor house with pool in Rolling Meadows. Only applicants with 20 or more major golf tournament wins need apply."
That's the challenge the local newspaper faces: Looking into the nooks and crannies for those local angles, finding people involved with the sweep and spectacle of the event and also those affected by it.
Our plan, in addition to the coverage in sports, is to provide at least one in-depth story each week on the front page of the news section detailing the particulars of this prestigious event's impact on the suburbs. We're also in the process of building a special Ryder Cup page for our website that should be teeming with photos, video and stories.
To kick off the additional Ryder Cup news coverage, we've scheduled (emphasis on the "scheduled," we're always at the mercy of any intervening news) a story to run Tuesday. It details how DuPage Airport is expecting a fourfold increase in air traffic, mainly the corporate jets of the jet-setters who will be arriving from across the globe to attend the tournament.
The news staff gets the story list Monday, and I believe we've been thorough, comprehensive and, of course, entertaining in the coverage ideas we've devised. But there's always room for a good idea or three. If you, gentle reader, have thoughts on something related to the Ryder Cup you think we should pursue, shoot me a note. Maybe we're on the same page. Maybe we won't get to every last suggestion. But I will give every one the eagle eye.