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Jack Nicklaus changes 16th hole at Muirfield Village ahead of Memorial

2023 Memorial

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jack Nicklaus got the message loud and clear. And the Memorial Tournament host and founder has acted upon the criticism he heard by changing the 16th hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club into something less detestable to PGA Tour players.

“The guys kept talking to me about it, and I sat down with Jordan Spieth about it and maybe (Justin Thomas),” Nicklaus said Wednesday. “And we sat down, and I said, ‘Guys, you’re only playing an 8 or 9-iron into (a 220-yard par 3).’ Then I looked at the stats. And 36 percent of the guys hit the green on Saturday and 28 percent hit it on Sunday.”

Those low numbers told the Golden Bear he needed to make another change to a hole that has seen plenty of alterations through the years.

“I said, ‘It’s not shame on you, it’s shame on me,” Nicklaus said. “If the course is not playable from that standpoint, for an 8 or 9-iron to only hit the green a third of the time the last two rounds, that’s not them. It’s me.”

It didn’t help the hole’s high Sunday scoring average (3.39) that a strong northeast wind made for only three birdies on the day. (There were only 21 for the entire tournament.) But wind or no wind, Nicklaus knew something had to be done so he decided to make 16 play more like No. 16 at Augusta National, home of the Masters, where the pond punishes players only when they hit a really poor tee shot.

2023 Memorial

Scottie Scheffler hits his tee shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the 2023 Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. (Photo: Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch)

Nicklaus moved the tee box 30 yards to the players’ right, which straightens the hole and takes the pond more out of play. He also removed the bunker from the front right of the green and replaced it with a slope to the green.

“I’ve given them the opportunity to play into the front third of the green without any problems,” he said. “But if they want to challenge the back pin placements, then they’ve still got a challenge to do that. I haven’t changed that.”

The 16th has received strong criticism since 2011, when Nicklaus redesigned the hole to include a lake guarding the left side of the green and bunkering behind the green.

Phil Mickelson soured early on the par 3, complaining that as a left-hander he had to draw his tee shot over the pond to a green that did not hold. Bubba Watson, another lefty, despised the hole, saying it did not fit aesthetically with the other 17.



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