Medinah Country Club will return to the golfing spotlight as host of the BMW Championship Aug. 13-18.
With preparations in full swing, tournament director Vince Pellegrino of the Western Golf Association met with the Daily Herald to look ahead to the player and fan experiences coming to the venerable host venue.
This is an edited version of that conversation.
Q. What are you favorite stretches at Medinah?
A. The finishing 17th hole (a par 3 over Lake Kadijah) has a great area behind the green. It's more of a natural amphitheater where you can sit and watch the players finish and hit some incredible shots.
I also really enjoy the drivable, par-4 15th, which is on the other side of the property. That is a great spot to watch the players try to drive the green. It's really just a great compilation of golf holes that are very challenging for the best players in the world.
Q. With the record rain this spring, is the rough particularly nasty?
A. The rough is going to be pretty thick. It's going to be long. I think it's going to be very challenging. (A WGA official later said the rough now measures a little over 3 inches.)
Q. How is the build-out coming along?
A. Starting at the 11th hole through 18, we have something on every green, whether it's spectator seating or corporate hospitality chalets, sky boxes and other venues. It creates a stadium-like effect.
And then we've got close to 70 sky boxes on the golf course itself that are private, 25-person units.
Q. The new PGA Tour schedule means an earlier start date for the tournament. How does that affect you?
A. With the championship moving from September to August, our timeline for construction of the hospitality venues and spectator seating has really moved up.
We're really excited about this time of year versus September because we're getting away from the NFL and college football season and the kids are still out of school.
I think we'll see a lot more kids on the golf course. We're going to see a lot more spectators because golf is still fresh on the minds of people in mid-August, and once we get toward football season I think that diminishes a tad.
Q. And you won't have player complaints about start times moving up because of Notre Dame football, like what happened in 2011.
A. Exactly. Thursday and Friday, we'll conclude play around 6 p.m. And Saturday and Sunday, we'll end play at 5 p.m. So there's really a full day of activities.
Q. What's on the menu for hungry fans?
A. You'll be able to enter one of two gates and really converge on the first tee and 18th green, where we're going to have a beer garden with a video screen, some German fare and some Chicago fare.
Q. What else should spectators check out?
A. The BMW's got what's called the "Topgolf Crush." You're going to be able to hit balls just like you would at Topgolf and compete to win prizes during championship week. So it's a nice experience for spectators to come out, watch the best 70 players the world (based on the FedExCup standings), but then also hit a few golf balls and win some prizes from BMW.