A Millennium in the Making: The Magnificent Test at Muirfield
By Keith Stewart, PGA
Muirfield - host of sixteen Open Championships, the 1973 Ryder Cup and the 2022 AIG Women's Open.Getty Images
The AIG Women’s Open brings the 2022 Major Championship season to a conclusion. In what has been an incredible year for golf’s biggest stages, the final act may be the most historic.
An Iconic, Historic Venue
The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers began in 1744. It is the oldest “golf club” in the world. In 1891, they built Muirfield, and the famed seaside links soon became an integral part of the Open Championship rotation, hosting 16 times.
Winners include Walter Hagan, Harry Vardon, Gary Player, Tom Watson, and Jack Nicklaus. This wonderfully windswept land has written many of the greatest stories told in Scottish golf history.
The AIG Women’s Open will be the first-time women professional golfers will play their Open Championship on Muirfield’s sacred links.
The course tests every aspect of one’s game. To prepare for a championship test at Muirfield one must truly believe in their fundamentals. What looks like a blank canvas to the uneducated golf eye is an intricate design equivalent to the detail we find in some of earth’s most wonderful man-made creations.
If you were preparing to play in the AIG Women’s Open, we’d suggest getting back to the basics.
The Unique Layout
Instead of leading out for nine holes and returning for nine more, the first nine holes go around the property perimeter in clockwise fashion. Only to encircle the inward nine running in the complete opposite direction of a counterclockwise rotation.
Considering the course’s location alongside the Firth of Forth, we know wind almost always plays as a major adversary alongside par. Continually changing directions tests one of the essential elements in the game – alignment.
The Rolling Landscape
Much like the moving seas, the rolling landscape of Muirfield matches the water next door. This luscious golf landscape will almost assuredly not present you with the same lie twice in a row. The topography is so subtle that you are constantly changing your address position to prepare for a proper strike.
Uneven lies are one of the most difficult situations to prepare as nearly all practice areas are level and most on-course lies are not. If you’re getting ready for a course like Muirfield, we suggest practicing shots from various ground angles.
Confidence is Key
The basic tenants of the game require us to send the ball in a desired direction. Mastering the confidence of keenly selecting a target and then swinging to it means something. On this links course, the test will be choosing a target line and trusting it. From blind tee shots to interesting fairway doglegs… rough, bunkering, and stone walls distract your focus. To prepare properly for this test is no different than a test you may face in your next round at your local golf course.
When you choose a target, focus on the goal itself and not the surrounding distractions. Though it sounds simple, it is not. One of the toughest challenges in the game is believing in our swing to the point of reliable performance.
Muirfield marks the end of the 2022 major championship season. Embrace the early mornings and enjoy the simple beauty and fundamental challenges Muirfield presents as we welcome another Champion Golfer of the Year.