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August 23, 2005

Michael Belot

Art Frigo

Rees Jones

BARRY CRONIN: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Medinah Country Club. We're glad you could make it. Before we get started, I want to make a couple introductions. Joining me here on the little stage is Michael Belot on the far end. Michael is the tournament director for the 2006 PGA Championship. He's been working in tournament operations for the PGA of America for a number of years, including 1999, last time we were here at Medinah, and this is his first championship as tournament director. Next is Michael is Art Frigo, who is the general chairman of the 2006 PGA Championship, a great representative of the Membership here at Medinah and a man who is keeping an eye out for the golf fans of Chicago to make sure the experience they have here next year is a great one. Rees Jones, the prolific golf course architect who has become legendary for the way he's renovated many of golf's storied courses for major championships, including Medinah No. 3. In addition, I'd like to acknowledge two of our prominent leaders of the Illinois PGA, Michael Miller, the executive director; and Dennis Johnson, who is the IPGA section chairman for the 2006 PGA Championship. Thank you very much for coming. We're a little less than a year away from the 88th PGA Championship here at Medinah, and we're very pleased and honored to have you here today for what we're calling our one-year-out media day. Media play obviously a very important role when it comes to getting the word out about a major championship. Unlike the local sports teams where they have an endless daily story that seemingly could rival "Days of Our Lives," a major championship like the PGA comes along every once so often. We're pleased to have Phil Mickelson as our defending champion, not only because he's a great player; he's also one of golf's most high profile figures, probably just second only to Tiger Woods, who was the last champion here. We're here today to give you some background information about the championship and to help you gain a greater appreciation of how special an event the PGA of America and the Membership at Medinah are working to create next year for the golf fans of the Midwest. The format is as follows: As soon as I get off here, Art Frigo is going to talk about some of the fan friendly aspects of next year's championship and what the members all think of what Rees has done to our golf course. Rees will give us a nice detailed presentation of some of the changes he's made out here. We'll do a group question and answer session, then we'll have Mike Scully, who is the head pro at Medinah, come up and tell you about the golf, and then anyone who needs one-on-one interviews, we'll be doing those outside on the veranda overlooking the putting green. After lunch you get your own personal four-and-a-half-hour site inspection of Rees's work, and we'll be happy to take your questions. Without further ado, I would like to introduce Art Frigo, the 2006 PGA Championship general chairman.

ARTHUR FRIGO: Thank you, everyone, for coming here today, and I hope you enjoy your round and are friendly to Rees after it's all said and done today. We, of course, are very proud that the Championship is coming back to Medinah, and in '99 we felt we had a wonderful tournament, but as all things are, we felt we could maybe reexamine some things and try to improve on areas that we thought could have a great impact for the players, for the fans, for the members. Our biggest focus is on the experience. Personally having visited many major tournaments, I'm always amazed at what we make a fan go through, the many miles they have to walk before they get to any golf. We are creating an epicenter. We are going to have buses in from satellite locations, which we feel will not hopefully exceed a 15-minute bus ride. They will virtually come in the front gate along hole 13 of our No. 1 course. When they are let off the bus, they will see the clubhouse in very close distance, just right out here, and we will have a PGA Championship Village, where the fans can sit, relax, drink beer, enjoy concessions, watch large video screens, sit, relax, go watch golf, come back, conserve their energy to enjoy the experience. Our goal is to provide them with the best experience they've ever had at a major championship. Secondly, we want our members, of course, to enjoy, so we're providing amenities for them. With the business chalets, we're trying to do more so the VIPs feel more like a VIP when they arrive but at the same time not compromise what we feel are the basic rights of our true golf fan. Most importantly, though, for all of you, we want to take care of the media. I'm very happy to report that the media tent will be located on the 14th fairway of our No. 1 course, which means that you will be able to drive down Medinah Road with your own private parking lot right next to the media tent, get out of your car and walk into the media tent. I hope you all appreciate that, as well. We're thinking of you (applause). Lastly, we want the players to have a tough, fair experience, and since '99 there was a lot of conversation about our golf course. You know, with technology creeping up on all of us, with the course getting a little old, the trees growing and providing a lot of shade in a lot of areas, we realized we needed someone to come in to preserve our tradition, make it tougher, and provide the authenticity which our members are proud of and want to maintain. I'm very happy to say Rees Jones was just the right person to do this job. Our members couldn't be more pleased. They all realize it's a tougher course, but we feel it's of the standards that Medinah should be proud of. So Rees, we thank you for the wonderful job you've done, and I thank all of you again for coming and hope you enjoy the day. Thanks (applause).

BARRY CRONIN: Rees needs no introduction to this audience, I'm sure. Rees has designed more than 100 original courses, most of them in the United States, very highly ranked by a lot of the golf course locations. He's gained at least as much notoriety for his redesigns and renovations of major championship courses, seven U.S. Open venues, five PGA courses and three Ryder Cup courses. Medinah too has undergone these changes, and I'd just like to introduce Rees Jones.

REES JONES: Thank you, Art. It's really been quite a pleasure working here at Medinah. We first came in in 1999 right after the Championship to look at the golf course, in light of the fact that the tournament was already scheduled for 2006 again. For the most part, technology was improving and it's improved really since that time. In 2001 the club passed the renovation, and in 2002 we did the work. I likened this redesign project much to the way we did the Country Club at Brookline, where we took a very old storied layout that had a lot of history and a lot -- I liken it to the Sacred Ground of Golf. A lot of changes have been made to Brookline over the years that really didn't coincide with the original design, original concepts, original green sizes. So what we really did is we built seven new greens really much like the older greens and took out the newer features that have been built the last ten years. We also, in light of the technology changes, rebunkered the entire golf course, and the bunkers had eroded at the edge, and we relocated the bunkers closer to the green surfaces, bringing them more into play, taking them farther out from the tee so that they actually could accommodate the equipment and the players of today. And then we added some yardage, but not a significant amount of yardage, not as much as we added at Torrey Pines or even at Baltusrol for the PGA two weeks ago because Medinah was already ahead of the curve. It had the length, it had the green contours, it had great golf holes. So we really didn't have to add that much length, but we did take out about 300 trees because trees are organic and they tend to grow in where the sunlight is, so that was another restoration project in essence to bring the golf course and the envelopes of the golf course back to the way they had been in the past. I think the players will notice a different golf course when they come here from '99 to 2006. I don't know, I guess we did a lot of work at Pinehurst, we added some yardage for the U.S. Open this year, and that was in '99 and 2005, but the players really didn't notice it that much because all we did was add some yardage. But I think when the players come back here in 2006, they're going to really see a different golf course, a golf course that really has more definition because we took some of the blindness out like on No. 1, No. 8. We took out the bunker on No. 16. We brought the 17th green down to the water as it had been previous to the immediate change before that. We took the tee back on 17, and the green goes on a bit of a diagonal, so I think the last day hole location will probably be on the right side where there's a bunker. Then 18 we made a major change and we elevated the green, took the tee back, so it's going to be -- it'll probably be a short iron with the way these guys are hitting it, but it's going to be a much more precise shot. Steve has the photos, we'll go through them quickly. Hole No. 1 really was a blind shot. We took the tee back as far as we could, and now it's 434 yards. We added a bunker on the left and then rebuilt the green so it really accepts the shot better for the longer hit. But also, we took out the reverse roll on the back side, so actually when they hit the shot they're going to hit it on the upslope and it's going to play a lot longer than it did in '99. The second hole, we really kind of decided to bring the green closer to the water and make a shot that was hit long and would protect the hole location in the rear by putting a bunker in the rear. So now it's really a little bit more difficult hole when the pin is in the front or the left, and actually the bunker looks like Baltusrol's No. 4 hole with the hole location in the rear. 13 really had a green that I don't think was all that popular with the players in '99. It had a lot of contour and really didn't hold the shots, so we really built a new green that pitches back toward the tee, is more receptive, bunkers are deeper, and then we added another back tee. It's going to play at about 240 plus. 15, which is a short par 4 -- I think what's to great about Medinah is it has an ebb and flow. There's chances to make birdie. 4 and 5, there's chances to make birdies, and they have long par 4s and short par 4s. Just like Baltusrol, when you come in it's not always going to be the front runner that has a chance to catch up. This is one of the catch-up holes, No. 15. We made it more difficult, bunkering the left side of the fairway, making the bunkers deeper, angling the green, bunkering the front and building a chipping area behind that will sweep the ball away from the surface. 16, which is where Sergio made his famous shot from behind the tree, when we first came up here, I guess so many people tried to hit shots there after Sergio did it that there was no grass within about three yards in a circle. I think that grass is back there now. But we reangled the tee, repositioned the tee, a little bit more to the right so they can actually cut the corner more easily and then drop the green and made it a little bit more receptive and built a little behind to just to hold the shot. 17, which is the most dramatic change that we've noticed from '99 to 2006 is now back down to the water. It was above the water originally for the Open Championship, and then they put it up on top of the hill and now we brought it down to the water, and it's going to be -- we added a lot more yardage. When it was down to the water before, it was about 155 yards, and now it's close to 200 yards. As you can see, it's on a bit of a diagonal, and if you drift your shot -- even if you're going to the left hole location that's in the front, if you drift it a little bit, you're going to be in the water. I think the right hole location and the bunker to the right and the fact that the green is sort of going away from you will be the hardest hole location, and I imagine that's where the pin will be on the last day. 18, we took the green a little bit farther away from the landing area. The bunkers are on the left. We bunkered the right side. We elevated the green just to make a more precise shot and a little chipping area to the right. So the bunkers are deeper, the course is somewhat longer, the trees have opened it up a bit. The yardage is close to 7,500 yards. We really didn't have to change the fairway rough lines because for '99 they were averaging about 25 yards, which is what pretty much most of the championship setups are doing now, 25, 24, 26 yards wide. So we didn't have to do that. But for the most part I think we've given the course an entirely new look. We have classic old style sculptured bunkers which like A.W. Tilling has or MacKenzie bunkers, so it has much more character; bunkers are deeper, the green contours and sizes of the seven greens that we did are complementary to the greens that were originally here, and so the reception -- I'm very pleased with the results, and we'll see what happens a year from now, but I think this golf course will be received by the players much like Baltusrol was two weeks ago. Thank you very much (applause).

ARTHUR FRIGO: One thing I'd like to add that was part of this renovation project, which we did not have in 1999, is all of you know who live in Chicago, in August it's very difficult to grow rough. But all of our rough is irrigated, and you'll see that out on the course today. While the rough is cut lower than it will be for the Championship, you'll see that this is going to offer the opportunity to provide what we think -- is best described as juicy, deep rough, and consistent. So I think that's going to make a significant different in the challenge to the players.

REES JONES: One other thing, Tom Lively, the superintendent, put the A variety grass. I'm not sure, is it A1, A4 combined? And that's what Baltusrol had last week. So in the heat of the summer, in the heat of August, these are very heat tolerant grasses, and I think the conditions of these greens will be much like they were at Baltusrol because this new grass can accommodate the high heat and humidity.

Q. Was that a light pole on the 18th green?

REES JONES: That's the flagpole.

Q. What's the total number of trees now on the course?

ARTHUR FRIGO: Tom Lively or Michael Wheeler would know the exact number.


Q. How do you balance the needs to toughen the course for a tournament that's going to be here for four days over a seven- or eight-year period as opposed to a course that's going to be played by members every day who unfortunately don't have the skills of Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson? And Art, if you can just say how much tougher the course is.

REES JONES: Well, I think at Medinah, the club has the luxury of having three golf courses, much like Pinehurst. You can have a true golf examination like Pinehurst No. 2 as you do at Pinehurst with Pinehurst No. 2 and have other golf courses with varying difficulty for mere mortals to play. I also believe to some degree we made this golf course a little bit more accommodating even for the member because we took out the trees, so it's easier -- they have a little more latitude than they did prior to our work. And then, of course, you have all the multiple tees. I just was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, playing a golf course that we designed where the air is thinner, goes all the way up to 7,650, and I'm a 9 handicapper and I shot 75-77 the two days, so from 6,500 to 6,900. So I think with the tees you can accommodate all kinds of players.

ARTHUR FRIGO: I think the consensus of the members is it's playing a lot tougher. I think the advantage we have is you'll see the rough has been cut; it's not as long. But initially when that rough was higher, it was like, "wow, this is almost too much golf for us." But with the rough cut where it is, I think we feel it's tougher, but I think the thing that will come through today is you'll feel it's fair but tough is a good way to describe it, but it adds strokes.

REES JONES: We took some of the blindness out, too, especially on No. 8. I think that if you really can visualize the shot, the member can, he can accomplish it better. So I think that was helpful to the members, too.

Q. How would you set this up differently if this were a U.S. Open next year rather than a PGA? What are the differences in the course design that are demanded?

REES JONES: Well, I don't really set it up. Kerry Haigh is the individual that sets up the golf course. We make the redesigns and Kerry Haigh will really work with Tom Lively as far as the setup. However, I don't think there would be too many changes because the fairway and rough lines were set for '99, and I think the U.S. Open and the PGA as far as fairway widths are the same. It's up to Kerry Haigh and Tom Lively as far as the green speeds are concerned. Lately there's been sort of a move not to have the bunker absolutely compact and perfect, so I'm not sure how they're going to do that. But I think they want the bunkers to be a little bit more of a penalty, and like at Baltusrol they really hand-watered the greens to make sure they were firm, so I think that's probably what they'll do here, too, and then probably water the rough and probably not water the fairways as much. My work is basically done. It's really up to the PGA staff now as far as the setup is concerned.

Q. But would the USGA have demanded a longer course, would it have demanded anything different in your design perhaps than what the PGA was looking for?

REES JONES: Well, either organization didn't really demand anything. What we do in the cases of the U.S. Open and in the case of the PGA, we submit to the governing body our ideas and then we go ahead with the work. We weren't necessarily told to make this golf course any certain length. I mean, there are things, like at Baltusrol they changed the 1st hole, made it a par 4, changed the seventh hole to make it a par 4. Those are actually decisions that had been made before but that were made again by the PGA. I think as I understand it, Kerry Haigh likes the back tees here, so I think that we used most of the back tees. But we really don't have control of that. We just give them the flexibility.

ARTHUR FRIGO: I'd like to add a couple things. One is it has been decided that the course will play 7,550 yards, which I think is a record for a major tournament. I don't want to speak for the PGA because the decisions -- the competitive setup is to their sole discretion. However, I can tell you that we continue to examine refinements that will provide we think a significant challenge through refinement. For example, on the 11th hole today, you'll note the back tee has just been put in, and that back tee provides an interesting additional challenge because it will force the players to play it as a dogleg. They won't be able to, we believe, clear the trees. I think it's about 305 to the sand trap from the back tees. So that's going to make them play the hole the way we play it. Another refinement that we're looking at is on the 5th hole, which is our shortest par 5. We're looking at extending the tee back back into the corner so it will provide an angle and bring the traps down the far right of the fairway more into play. So we continue to look at those things, but in the end, it's Kerry Haigh's decision, and we're very pleased with the job that Kerry has done over and over again. We keep looking for ways to make it, again, fairer, tougher, but still maintain the tradition of the golf course.

REES JONES: When we looked at No. 5, the hardest holes for us to design or redesign are the par 5s because of how far the players today are hitting it off the tee. I mean, I added the tee at Baltusrol to No. 17 and Tiger still went for it. Tiger actually hit -- I think he was able to hit all four of the par 5s here in two during the PGA in '99, so those are the hardest holes for us to make par standard. I think that's why we added the tee on No. 5.

Q. Rees, maybe you've answered the question already, but how far can you go, and as you look at courses as a designer that are classic like Medinah, how far do you go before you change things and really take it out of character? Do you reach a point where you throw up your hands on a par 5 and say, "I can't do any more than I've done"?

REES JONES: We sincerely hope there's been a line drawn in the sand as we've been told because of the new regulations formulated by the USGA, and I think to some degree par 5s are really par 4-point-something now. We've become used to that. That's why we're building par 4s like No. 3 at Baltusrol and No. 7 at Baltusrol over 500 yards. It's amazing how they moan and groan about 500-yard par 4s but don't mind a hole like the 18th and almost hit shorter clubs on the 18th and almost scored better than No. 3 at Baltusrol. It's a psychological thing. My father was chastised by Ben Hogan in 1951 when he changed the 18th hole to a par 4, and Hogan told him it was too hard, and he said, Ben, I made it easier for you; I shortened it. I don't know if they really think in terms of par as much anymore, they just think in terms of final score.

Q. What was your thinking on 17? That hole has undergone a lot of changes over a relatively short period of time, first on the water, then on the way back, then up again. Why would you change that one so much?

REES JONES: Well, I think what happened is when it was on the water --

ARTHUR FRIGO: It was on the water for the '88 Senior Open and for the U.S. Open in 1990.

REES JONES: And then it was decided to take it up the hill to make it longer. We sort of accomplished both by -- we put it back on the hazard. We only have three holes that bring the water into play here, and really only two because it wasn't a hazard for the '99 PGA. We were able to bring it back down to the water, regrade the hill and make the hole as long as it was when it was on top, so we accomplished both goals; we got the water into play, the ultimate hazard, as well as maintained the yardage.

Q. Rees, regarding three-shot par 5s for Tiger Woods and friends, what do they need to be these days, 700 yards to have a three-shot par 5 that Art and I play?

REES JONES: That's a good question, but I think 700 yards would be one that they couldn't hit. I think what was interesting at Baltusrol, the two finishing holes, so they had a chance to -- 17 and 18, they had a chance to make up ground and that's what Tiger was trying to do on Saturday, was trying to get back into the tournament, not just make the cut. But I think 650 for most players is a three-shot par 5. What a longer par 5 does, is really makes it a par 5 for the entire field, so I think it really equates the players.

Q. Just to follow up on the par 5s and the length of the course we saw last week, the hole was playing downhill, we saw guys hitting over 400 yard drives at Firestone. Any chance -- we've got a Ryder Cup here in 2012. Any idea what that course will be playing if we continue to move out? If you're playing 7,550, are we going to be close to 8,000 for 2012?

REES JONES: For the Ryder Cup we don't need to worry about that. We shortened the 6th hole at Oakland Hills so they could go for it. Match play is different from stroke play, and you're really looking for the risk-reward possibilities a little bit more, so I think a shorter golf course for the match play is better than a longer golf course. You're not really worried about score and whether or not par is difficult. You're really looking for the risk-reward and the shot options and the choices that the players have to make. By making it shorter, they have more shot options.

Q. But in general are we going to be looking at courses ballooning out, courses in the next five years that are going to be championship courses that are going to be pushing 8,000 yards?

REES JONES: I think we've really reached the limit. What we're trying to do now is tighten them more than lengthen them. We really didn't lengthen Medinah that much. 25-yard fairways and now irrigation in the rough, I think that's going to be a primary concern to all clubs, to make sure the rough is irrigated much like we're going to have here for next year. It's going to make it a penalty. I remember Tiger Woods in 1997 at Congressional had just been redone, and he practically ran away from the field at The Masters, and we asked him if he was going to hit driver, and he said it's a good idea to hit driver because these green contours are such that if you have a longer shot in and I'm 40 feet away from the hole location, I think he called it the pin position in those days, he said I have a good chance of three-putting. But if I hit a shorter club and I can get within 10, 15 feet, I have a real good chance of making birdies. Green contours are a form of hazard. I think the rough really brings the green contours more into play. Tiger Woods also said that I can hack it out of the rough and have a short shot in and probably save par, so he was actually going to hit driver more often. If you saw a few weeks ago at Baltusrol they hit a lot of drivers because the course set up for drivers, and I think that's what you'll see here at Medinah.

Q. Rees, over the period of time that you have been redesigning golf courses, and I know for the past three or four years, does it serve any good purpose to invite a class of tournament players to come in and try the golf course before you decide if it's ready to go?

REES JONES: That's a good question, but you know, they're all different. I just did the course for the Houston Open. David Toms was the consultant for the Tour, and he's a medium length hitter, and I think -- he would think about the golf course differently from the way John Daly does or Tiger Woods does. So I mean, to bring the players -- you're not going to get a consensus. Basically I think we have to go back to -- I mean, I started probably the day I was born thinking about golf course design. My first job was measuring drives in the 1954 U.S. Open because that was the first year they had ropes, and I said, "How do I get inside the ropes?" And he said, "Work for me and measure the drives so I'll know where to put the bunkers for Olympic and Oak Hill." So I'm 12 years old and I'm an official. I thought that was a pretty good deal. So I've really been worried about the length of golf courses and measuring the length of drives since I was 12 years old.

Q. You talked about how you think the players here will hit driver like they hit at Baltusrol. I was wondering how important do you think that is to build a course, a championship venue, where the players are still going to hit their driver instead of a 3-wood or iron off so many tees?

REES JONES: I think it's important that we redesign or build a golf course where they can hit driver and the hole design does not take that choice away from them, that if they decide not to hit driver, it's just an option.

Q. Why?

REES JONES: Well, I just think it's a risk-reward, especially in major championships, when the rough is so tight. In fact, what they really were trying to do at Baltusrol, they were trying to keep the fairways firm and the roughs lush so they would hit the ball through the fairway and into the rough, which made it even narrower. Here some of the holes like 16 because it's a sharp dogleg, no matter how wide the fairway is, it's going to be narrower because you really have to hit the dogleg. As you watched the PGA unfold two weeks ago and how they all started backing up, they feel the pressure, and what really creates the pressure is the penalty of the rough in my mind.

Q. To follow up on par 5s, two parts. Is the hardest thing for the golf course architect these days designing a three-shot par 5 for touring pros? And secondly, is there a three-shot par 5 in America for Tiger Woods, a guy who at Baltusrol on that 650-yard hole hit 2-iron over the green?

REES JONES: I really can't answer the last question. The ball has evolved so quickly and changed so fast that I don't know if there is a par 5 out there because Baltusrol's par 5 was the longest in the history of championship golf in America. I think par 5s are -- you know, that's part of the -- this is entertainment, too. That is part of the excitement. They're going to replay that shot that Tiger hit on Saturday time and time again. He got what you call rub of the green. To tell you the truth, if we hadn't added that tee, that wouldn't have happened. I think it's great to have a risk-reward par 5s.

Q. Rees, everybody is talking about length. What about the challenging short par 4? Is that gone forever from major championship golf?

REES JONES: I don't believe so. I was very fortunate to have a chance to redo the Country Club at Brookline, and the 17th hole where Justin Leonard made probably the most significant putt in 100 years in team competition was -- we redesigned that hole. It's a very narrow green surrounded by five bunkers. It has three different levels on it, and you can actually probably cut the corner a little bit, but then if you cut it too much, you come in at the wrong angle. So I think that holes like the 17th at the Country Club, which is one of the great golf holes in America, are still going to be in play in the game, but it's going to be a risk-reward type situation. It helps having a dogleg and they can't hit the shot and hold the green. It's much more difficult to design them.

BARRY CRONIN: We're going to do one-on-ones out on the veranda in front. And in the meantime I want to bring up Mike Scully, who is the director of golf here at Medinah to tell you a little bit about the golf and lunch.

End of FastScripts�.

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