Mark Mungeam, the man who oversaw the refurbishment and restoration work at Olympia Fields for 25 years, admitted he expected to experience mixed feelings as he watched the BMW Championship, the second FedEx Cup playoff event, this weekend. from his home outside Worcester, Massachusetts.
The golf course architect, now 59, has worked more at Olympia Fields, which is located in the Chicago suburbs, more than any other in his illustrious career.
“On the one hand, it will be exciting to see how they compete on a course that I have worked so hard on,” he said before the event, “but on the other hand, it will be a little sad because I am no longer consulting there.”
After 2018, Olympia Fields hired another architect.
“It happens,” he said. “Twenty-five years is a really good race for anyone taking a course. I’m disappointed that they have changed course, but obviously I’m happy enough to have spent so many years working with them. “
Mungeam helped Olympia Fields implement two master plans involving tree removal, redevelopment of tees, fairways and greens, and rebuilding of the field’s 80 bunkers prior to the 1997 US Senior Open, even before the 2003 US Open. and a third time before the 2015 US Open Amateur. Mungeam was present in 2015 when Jon Rahm was the favorite, but Bryson DeChambeau won the US Amateur.
“It’s pretty exciting now to see him do so well,” said DeChambeau’s Mungeam.
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Mungeam was able to use a 1928 US Open schedule with photos of each hole at Olympia Fields as a guide for its restoration before the 2015 US Amateur.
One of the goals of the renovations is to prevent golfers from overwhelming the course.
“There’s no way they can design a golf course now,” said Mungeam, “that they don’t intend to overwhelm with their length.”
Last weekend, Dustin Johnson turned 30 under value to win the Northern Trust at TPC Boston.
Mungeam added a bunker 310 yards off the tee on the left side of the par-4 18th hole at Olympia Fields in 1999. At the time it was designed to be an aiming bunker, but in 2015 many golfers passed it.
That hole played the hardest this week, according to PGA Tour statistics. In fact, the par 4 played at an average of almost half a shot above Thursday’s value (4,478), followed by 4,435 on Friday and 4,290 on Saturday.
On Sunday, the pin should be difficult for players to reach as it is only four feet from the right front edge, meaning players will not be able to run the ball onto the stick.
On the other hand, Mungeam did not want to make Olympia Fields too difficult for the members.
Mark Mungeam oversaw the refurbishment and restoration of Olympia Fields for 25 years. (Bill Doyle / photo file)
“They want a golf course to play on,” Mungeam said, “but it can be turned into a championship test when there are the best players in the world. I always thought I did it pretty well.”
Mungeam is still consulting the city of Boston after renovating the city’s two Donald Ross courses, George Wright GC in Hyde Park and Franklin Park GC in Dorchester, ahead of the Massachusetts Amateur 2019.
He has designed 23 new courses, including Cyprian Keyes GC in Boylston, Shaker Hill CC in Harvard, Highfields Golf & CC in Grafton and nine at Blissful Meadows GC in Uxbridge, and has worked on approximately 75 renovations and restorations.
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