By Michael Pramik
Posted On: May 24, 2021
Jack Nicklaus grew up in Upper Arlington, a short drive from Ohio State University, where his path to golf stardom began.
But Jack's Place is in another Columbus suburb – Dublin, the site of Muirfield Village Golf Club and the center of the golf world each spring when this world-class track plays host to the Memorial Tournament. Ohio's most prestigious annual golf tournament will mark its 46th year in 2021, drawing most of the top players in the world May 31-June 6.
Nicklaus began planning a professional golf tournament of his own back in his 1960s heyday and purchased the land that would become Muirfield Village in 1967. It took a few years to get things under way, but the course was completed in 1973 and the initial tournament held in May 1976.
Photo credit: Chris Condon (PGA TOUR)
Since the beginning the Memorial has been destined for greatness. Tour pros annually say it's one of their favorite tournaments, and the winners list reads like a World Golf Hall of Fame roster.
Jack won here twice, in 1977 and 1984. Tiger Woods is a five-time champion, including three in a row from 1999-2001. Kenny Perry has won it three times, and Tom Watson, Hale Irwin and Greg Norman have won twice each. Other well-known champs include Ray Floyd, Hal Sutton, Curtis Strange, Paul Azinger, Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Bryson DeChambeau and last year's victor, John Rahm.
The name Memorial signifies Nicklaus' desire to honor significant contributors to the game of golf. This year's honorees are Nick Price and, posthumously, Gene Littler and Ted Ray. The tournament also has raised millions of charity bucks for local organizations including Nationwide Children's Hospital.
The Memorial will be open to visitors a year after playing to no spectators in mid-July because of the pandemic. It'll be a controlled crowd, and ticket sales have been suspended. But Dublin is a fine place to visit year-round, with a recent series of big projects that have transformed its downtown.
Photo credit: Chris Condon (PGA TOUR)
Muirfield Village Golf Club is a residential community with two private golf courses, and visitors can wend their way around the spacious site in between watching the pros play.
The course itself is legendary, ranked the best golf course in Ohio by Golf Digest, and among the best in the world. When the first Memorial teed off, the course played to just over 7,000 yards. Not content to see that length of course manhandled by today’s breed of players (and technology), Nicklaus annually tweaks the course to toughen it up.
This year, visitors will see significant updates. Jack's son, Jack Nicklaus II, described it recently as "a new golf course." The changes include a full rebuild of the greens. Several have been moved to make the holes more difficult. The course is longer, too – much longer, at more than 7,600 yards.
Photo credit: Cory Klein Photography
What To Do
The Memorial's "place to be" after daily action has always been the Bogey Inn, an eating and drinking establishment that's a shortish walk from Muirfield Village's 6th tee. Dublin is showing off something new this year as well – an impressive pedestrian bridge crossing the Scioto River that links the city's downtown area to Bridge Park, a walkable, multiuse development that includes an urban-styled entertainment district with lots to do.
Bridge Park features a satellite location of Columbus' North Market, with 13 vendors. The development also has several restaurants and entertainment venues, including Urban Meyer's Pint House, Fado Pub & Kitchen, Pins Mechanical, 16-Bit Bar & Arcade and VASO Rooftop Lounge, which offers luscious cocktails, food and views from the top of the AC Dublin Hotel.
Photo credit: Visit Dublin
The zoo is home to more than 10,000 animals that represent more than 600 species. More than 2 million people visit each year. The habitats are organized into six geographic regions: Asia Quest, Australia and the Islands, Congo Expedition, Heart of Africa, North America and Polar Fronter, and Shore.
NOTE: The zoo recently waived outdoor mask requirements, following direction from the state. But it requires timed entry before 2PM. Check out the zoo's website for more information.
Where To Eat
Cameron Mitchell restaurants have been synonymous with good eating in central Ohio since 1993. Mitchell has built a restaurant empire here, and three of his eateries are grouped near each other in Dublin.
At Bridge Park, step into the Dublin location of longtime Columbus favorite Cap City Diner. The Cap City Diner Meatloaf is a towering plate of goodness, stacked this way from the bottom up: a thick slice of bread, a thick slice of meatloaf, buttermilk chive potatoes and onion rings, all covered with barbecue gravy with broccoli on the side.
Mitchell also has two restaurants on the west bank of the Scioto. The Pearl is a gastropub, offering upscale food in a tavern-style atmosphere where patrons can choose from 50 draft and bottled beers. It also has an oyster room, offering oysters, clams, shrimp and crab.
Next door lies The Avenue, a traditional steakhouse that features steaks, chops, seafood and an expansive selection of wine.
Photo credit: Marriott Northwest
Where To Stay
Dublin boasts an impressive hotel inventory that offers a wide range of accommodations and plenty of convenience.
The Columbus Marriott Northwest is centrally located for easy access to Bridge Park, historic Dublin, the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium and The Ohio State University. And it's less than a 15-minute drive from Muirfield Village.
The hotel's 300-plus guest rooms were recently renovated with sophisticated, contemporary styling and amenities. Guests can relax in the Marriott Greatroom, a large, comfortable space with plenty of seating. Two Brother Bar & Kitchen features American cuisine highlighted by locally sourced produce, and the bar serves creative cocktails and 16 beers on tap.
Photo credit: Golf Club of Dublin
Where To Play
You'll need to know someone to tee it up on the hallowed ground of Muirfield Village, or its sister course, The Country Club at Muirfield Village. But central Ohio is dotted with quality public courses, so there are plenty of options to play.
Dublin has just one public course, and it's a good one – The Golf Club of Dublin. While there isn't a firth in sight, you'll feel like you've stepped onto a British Isles course when you play here. It's designed as a links course, pocked by pot bunkers, fescue turf, stone walls, large greens and many, many bunkers.
Columbus golf architect Michael Hurzdan is responsible for the unique design. An OSU graduate, Hurdzan is one of the game's top architects of courses that are challenging but fair to play. Golf Club of Dublin, for instance, stretches out over 7,000 yards but offers four sets of tees.
Whether you're enjoying a round of golf, watching the Memorial Tournament, or exploring Dublin, you'll find the perfect golf experience here in Ohio.