The Memorial Tournament — What Are We Memorializing?

The Memorial (presented by Nationwide)! Almost time for the US Open (not that we’re looking forward to another major), and we got two more tournaments beforehand. Out of Texas, and it’s finally warm enough to play golf in the Midwest. Get ready for Jack Nicklaus, and the return of Tiger!

About the Sponsor

Nationwide is on your side! I figured since last week I talked all about commercials, I’d go back to looking up the history of a sponsor instead of copping out and posting videos.

Now known as Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, the firm started out in 1926 in Columbus, Ohio as Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. Since “Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company Is On Your Side” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, FBMAIC changed it’s name in 1955 to Nationwide Insurance, at which point it really became nationwide by expanding across the country.

Nationwide is comprised in total of an absurd number of companies. I’m not going to list them all (this is a golf article in the end) but if you’re curious, click here and scroll for a while.

Besides being the sponsor of the Memorial, Nationwide also has a history of being sponsors in the golf realm. Being the title sponsor of a Web.com tour event in Columbus, as well as being the title sponsor of the Web.com tour for 9.5 years from 2003-2012. If you go around calling the lower tour the “Nationwide Tour”, you might be considered pretentious, but you wouldn’t exactly be wrong.

Ok fine, here’s my favorite nationwide commercial.

About the Tournament

The big question this week: What we’re Memorializing!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

First thought, they’re Memorializing military people because that seems to be a super popular thing nowadays. You’re pretty much the devil if you don’t, at least that’s what we’re supposed to think. Though it recently came out that the military is paying NFL teams to honor vets as a sort of marketing tool. Well after not being able to find any mention of the military on the tournament’s website, and the fact that it isn’t on Memorial Day (which I’m assuming Jack Nicklaus could force the PGA Tour to do if he wanted to), I’m gonna guess that isn’t what we’re Memorializing.

Next guess was the “Honorees” tab on the site. Quoting the site:

“The Memorial Tournament is themed each year around a person, living or dead, who has contributed to the game of golf. This was Jack Nicklaus’ idea as a contribution to perpetuating achievements of the game’s greatest individuals. The honoree is selected by the Captains Club, a group of statesmen who act independently of the tournament organization, but who also advise on player invitations and the conduct of the event generally.”

Oddly though, there’s no mention of any Memorializing the Honoree. Just honoring him or her. This would make sense if this was the Honoring Tournament. Or maybe the Honoring Tournament. Or possibly the Honoring a Person by Memorializing Them Tournament.

The tournament does have a Journalism Award associated with each year’s tournament as well. Again, quoting the website:

“The Memorial Golf Journalism Award was created to honor and pay tribute to golf journalists, electronic as well as print media, who have served their profession with conspicuous honor and made a major contribution and impact on golf journalism.”

Clearly what this statement means is that I’ll be up for the Memorial’s journalism award sometime in the near future. I’m thinking 2016.

Unfortunately for my love of nicely tied bows, I’m really can’t find anything about the actual origin of the tournament’s name on the internet, so I’m left with my speculation. Never fear though, I’ll be on the lookout for the real story of the Memorial name and will be back later in the week with (hopefully) a correct answer.

About the Course

Built from 1972 to 1974, Muirfield Village doesn’t look anything like Muirfield over in England. In fact, it doesn’t even look like a course built in the 70s. This thing is fantastically modern and easily rated one of the top courses on tour, ranked as the 6th best course on Tour back in 2011. If you told me that this course was 5 years old, I would have accepted that as true, just like I do when people tell me frozen pizza is healthy.

Jack's Pizza == Best Pizza

Jack’s pizza == best frozen pizza

One of the most famous hole on the course is the 12th, a par three that mimics the 12th at Augusta National. Par 3 over water with a kidney shaped green. Only difference is the thing is 184 yards long, instead of the ~150 yards down in Augusta.

I haven’t been able to play the course (yet, since I really want to, even if it is in Ohio), but you all should take a look at the pictures of the holes to get a feel for how cool it looks. Definitely something to watch for on tv.

Last Year

Hideki Matsuyama birdied the 18th hole the final round for the 4th straight day to force a playoff with Kevin Na for his first PGA Tour victory of, I’ll assume, many to come. Not to take anything away from Hideki, but Na finished his final round 64 over two hours before. Not ideal, and it showed when his tee shot on the playoff hole quickly found its way into a creek.

Hideki’s also had a little trouble on the hole and had to get up and down from a greenside bunker to secure a par and the win. Also had a little issue after he snapped his driver head off “when he gently slammed it to the ground following his tee shot on the 72nd hole”. Ok pgatour.com, don’t know if he’s that strong. Either way, Hideki was your winner.

What to Watch For

Sir Nick Faldo — This year’s Memorial Honoree is Sir Nick Faldo! Check out the reasoning for his selection here. Frankly, seems like they picked him just because he’s good at golf, and that there isn’t much more behind it like some awards have. There’s no “must have completed 1000 hours of community service”, or “donated X dolla bills to the hungry” or even “cured Y people of blindness”. Just was good at golf and not a terrible person. And in my opinion, that’s totally reasonable since this is a golf tournament and all.

Doc Giffin — The 2015 Journalism Award winner for this year’s tournament. If you’re wondering what it takes to win this award, apparently all it takes is being Arnold Palmer’s personal assistant. Check out the full reasoning here. I take back my estimation that I’ll win that award soon. I ain’t nobody’s assistant.

Cicadas! — Actually, you don’t have to watch for them, since this isn’t one of the years that they’re active. But I remember in 2004 when those fellas just buzzed and buzzed. I couldn’t find a video for that, just this article. Figured since I always remember how bizarre that year was, and that I still associate cicadas and the Memorial, I might as well mention it.

US Open Sectional Qualifying — Not this week, but next Monday is the 36 hole qualifying for the US Open, held in a few weeks. Smartly, the USGA puts big qualifiers around where the tour events are being held to make it easy for the players on tour. Always a fun day to watch and follow the scores.

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