Medinah's neighbors take Ryder Cup in stride
Most of the time, Pat and Ralph Cook's neighborhood is tranquil.
Their home, secluded amid trees and brush on Medinah Road, is hidden to the average passer-by.
But when the Cooks walk up their driveway to get the mail next week, it will be anything but quiet.
Some 40,000 people will be making their way to the Ryder Cup golf tournament at Medinah Country Club from Sept. 25-30.
It's golf's marquee international event, taking place in what is otherwise a low-key unincorporated area tucked into the northeast corner of DuPage County.
For the Cooks, who live across from the front gates of the country club, the Ryder Cup means added traffic and inconvenience tournament week. But they're taking a good-natured, big-picture view of the proceedings.
"It's good for the community, good for business, and Medinah has been nothing but kind," Pat Cook said. "Of course it's an inconvenience. But it's a necessity for what's about to take place. If you don't like the inconvenience, then don't buy a house across from Medinah Country Club."
In an effort to reduce congestion, Medinah Road from Irving Park Road to Lake Street will be shut down to general traffic the week of the Ryder Cup. Residents like the Cooks — and all others who live on Medinah Road — are required to get vehicle passes they can show at security checkpoints in order to pass through.
"We're trying to make it as simple and as easy of a process for those who live on Medinah Road. It would be more of an inconvenience if this wasn't in place — it would be a free for all on Medinah Road," said Michael Belot, the Ryder Cup tournament director. "We want to reduce the number of cars going through and make sure it's as close to (residents') normal daily lives as possible."
Those who live on nearby side-streets are being asked to use routes other than Medinah Road during the tournament.
The situation may prove difficult for members of the Hari Om Mandir, a Hindu temple close to the golf course's main entrance on Medinah Road.
They've requested 150 vehicle passes, and while many worshippers will get them ahead of time, others who decide to visit the temple last minute could find it more difficult, said Rajeev Bharel, the temple's president.
"This being a place of worship, people are regulars for prayers, but there are many other (situations): if there's a birthday in the family and you want to come to the temple and offer prayers, or if something bad happens and you want to go to the garden for prayer. It's harder to do during that week. Those people who will come, they can't."
Parking restrictions will be in place in neighborhoods surrounding the country club, so tournament organizers are encouraging spectators to park at off-site locations. Shuttle buses will transport them to Medinah.
But many residents remember it wasn't always that way.
In fact, they saw the car traffic during previous major golf tournaments as an opportunity for extra income.
Dorothy Sykes, who has lived on Medinah Road with her husband for 60 years, said they used to sell parking spaces in their driveway, on the grass, and in a vacant lot they owned next door.
"We made a lot of money," she said.
Jennie and Ralph Keller, who have lived on Medinah Road for 45 years, also charged for parking. One time, a golfer who was late for his tee time parked at their house. Another time, the Kellers fit some 30 cars in their yard and driveway. But then the rain came, creating a muddy mess.
"A truck had to get them out," Jennie Keller said.
The Kellers, like many others, don't have tickets to the Ryder Cup, though they said they've been lucky to attend previous golf tournaments at Medinah with ticket stubs from patrons who were leaving.
The Cooks say they'll be attending practice rounds on Tuesday and Thursday, after winning a lottery for the opportunity to purchase tickets.
But for other residents, life will go on as normal — no matter that one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world will be taking place across the street.
Tim Christofalos, 24, has lived across the street from the golf course for five years, and nine years before that, lived a couple blocks away. And though he's never been inside, his friends who are golf caddies tell him it's the best golf course they've ever been to.
"(The Ryder Cup) is the biggest thing to happen in this area," Christofalos said. "I'm excited for it. I just wish I had a pass."
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