The 39th Ryder Cup will be played today through Sunday at Medinah Country Club's famed Course No. 3, which is a Par-72 course (7,657 yards/6,991 meters). Here is a look at all 18 holes, with comments and description provided by Michael Scully, who joined the Medinah staff as a head professional in 2004 and became Director of Golf in 2010. A native of Mount Prospect, Scully is a graduate of Prospect High School and the University of Illinois, where he played football.
Hole No. 1
433 yards/387 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: In 2012, the first change the players of the 39th Ryder Cup matches will notice on Course No. 3 will be on the first tee. The addition of a new back tee has lengthened the hole, and hitting a hybrid or 3-wood off the tee will mean a flatter lie in the landing area. The attempt to hit a driver may result in a hanging lie in the fairway. It might be wiser the leave the "big dog" in the bag.
The green has a slight pitch, from back-to-front, with a Rees Jones collection area, back-left that needs to be avoided. The toughest hole placement is back-right, with only 18 feet of green behind the front-right bunker.
It's an easy opening hole, compared to the rest of the course, and can give a player a false sense of security.
192 yards/176 meters, Par-3
Scully's take: Many players say that the difficulty of Course No. 3 begins on the second tee box. This challenging par-3 has a forced carry, with no bailout on the left side. A missed shot left leads to a walk of shame to the drop area.
The traditional winds from the southwest will blow in and across the face of the players and makes this hole a difficult par-3.
Hole No. 3
412 yards/377 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: From the tee, the players will see the Rees Jones bunkers down the right side that should be the target to work the ball right-to-left. They will have to try to stay to the right side to avoid the overhanging Medinah trees.
Leveling of the fairway took away what used to be a blind second shot, and made this a viable birdie hole. The green slopes from back-to-front and is guarded by bunkers on both sides.
Hole No. 4
463 yards/423 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: Favor the right side of this pitched fairway, as any balls hit down the left side will likely find the rough. Approach shots to the green always play a club longer because of the severe elevation change from fairway-to-green.
The green is slightly sloped from back-to-front, but has a way of disguising one of the fastest putts at Medinah. The key here is to keep the ball below the hole.
Hole No. 5
536 yards/490 meters, Par-5
Scully's take: The shortest par-5 on the course makes this is the perfect risk/reward par-5. The premium location with a driver is right-center, leaving most players with a 3- or 4-iron to an elevated green.
The green isn't easy to hit in two, because it is elevated. However, the hole makes most players want to gamble. We may see hybrid/hybrid combination as the two-shot plan, with a putt at eagle that could swing a match!
Hole No. 6
509 yards/465 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: This is one of Medinah's truly great par-4's. With the addition of a new back tee, the length requires a driver shaping from left-to-right off the three fairway bunkers. Do not make the mistake of missing the fairway to the right, or you are staring bogey right in the face. Left side of the fairway will still leave most a mid- to long-iron into a sloped and well-bunkered green. This is a hole where the tee shot will definitely dictate the score.
Hole No. 7
617 yards/564 meters, Par-5
Scully's take: Another Medinah Classic, the seventh is the longest par-5 on the course, as well as the membership's No. 1 handicap hole.
Rees Jones added another tee box that calls for the ideal tee shot down the left side, which will set up a lay-up shot focused on being 120 yards out. Anything closer brings a left side fairway bunker into play.
Do not miss the green or fall into the steep greenside bunkers. The green is elevated and has a several subtle breaks that make it difficult to read and putt.
Hole No. 8
201 yards/184 meters, Par-3
Scully's take: A couple of major championships ago, this was a blind tee shot. However, the leveling of the fairway has given the players a great view of a heavily guarded green that breaks hard from left to right. The key here is to locate the halfway house, as most putts will break to the building.
Hole No. 9
432 yards/395 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: This hole offers a great dogleg left that presents somewhat of a blind shot off the tee, and in today's game it will require a 3-wood, or hybrid. Hugging the right side here will leave you an uphill look at a well-bunkered green that breaks fast from right-to-left. Take your par here, and run to the 10th tee.
Hole No. 10
578 yards/529 meters, Par-5
Scully's take: A thinking man's par-5 that can be reached in two, this hole demands that both be great shots.
The drive should be played toward the right bunkers, shaping from right-to-left. Club choice might include 3-wood to take the bunkers out of play, and then hitting a hybrid or long iron to a conservative lay-up will make the third shot a little easier.
The 10th green has the greatest slope from back-to-front as any on the golf course. The dilemma here is whether to be aggressive or conservative.
Hole No. 11
440 yards/402 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: The 11th hole has the smallest green on the golf course, and the addition of the Rees Jones fairway bunker has put a premium on driving accuracy and club choice.
The play is 3-wood or hybrid that will leave the player with short iron into a small, newly undulated green. The hole looks easy, but it could swing the momentum in a match.
Hole No. 12
476 yards/435 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: This gem just may be the best par-4 on the property.
A generous driving area benefits the player staying to the right side for a better angle to approach the green. A big oak guards the green on the left side that the membership has hit 95,345 times over the years. The second shot should be mid-iron into a green that slopes hard from left-to-right, but doesn't look as severe because of the sharp drop-off on the right side of the green to the pond. Four will go a long way here in any match.
Hole No. 13
245 yards/223 meters, Par-3
Scully's take: Known over the years as Medinah's signature hole, the green on No. 13 is now guarded by three bunkers, and slopes from right-to-left.
The club choice will be the challenge as players contend with the winds off Lake Kadijah. Being the longest par-3 on the course, and with the challenge of the wind, this may be where the matches turn on Sunday.
609 yards/557 meters, Par-5
Scully's take: The longer players have the advantage here if they can get the ball to the top of the hill. From there they will have a long iron or fairway metal into a green that is well guarded by bunkers and slopes significantly from back-to-front.
It is hard to get the ball close on the third shot because of the slope in the green. The challenge here will be to contend with the overhanging Medinah trees.
Hole No. 15
391 yards/356 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: This was the most significant change that Rees Jones made during his last update to Course No. 3.
What was the easiest par-4 on the course has been turned into a short and potentially exciting par-4 with water adjoining the landing area and green. This hole could lead to more fireworks during the 2012 Ryder Cup.
If the tees are moved forward, then it will be a 3-wood or hybrid for the long hitters.
The green complex is where the challenge will begin as it is well bunkered in the front and has the Rees Jones collection area back-right. This small shallow green should produce a lot of memorable shots for this Ryder Cup.
Hole No. 16
482 yards/441 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: The sixteenth hole is where all the fireworks began in '99, with Sergio Garcia's miraculous shot from behind an oak tree on the right side of the fairway.
The new Rees Jones tee box has brought the driver back in to the hands of many players, leaving approximately 200 yards into an elevated green that may require an extra club.
Once greenside, there is no bargain dealing with a sloped green from right-to-left that is heavily guarded with bunkers. Par may be the premium here during the matches.
Hole No. 17
193 yards/176 meters, Par-3
Scully's take: The key here will be the wind off Lake Kadijah, and the nerves of trying to win a match to capture the 39th Ryder Cup. Hitting this relatively flat green will be the key. Being long or left will make getting up and down quite difficult.
Hole No. 18
449 yards/411 meters, Par-4
Scully's take: This finishing hole was no easy bargain during the 2006 PGA Championship.
Off the tee, Rees Jones added a group of bunkers to work the ball from right-to-left. On the approach, the green has been raised in the air almost one story high, and is flanked by some steep bunkers. The green, itself, is pitched from back-to-front, with a collection area in the back-right, with up and down to a back-right hole location almost impossible.
The 18th could produce a dramatic finish to another storied event at Medinah.