Andrew Steffensmeier, a senior who helped lead St. Charles Preparatory School to the Division I boys state golf championship last fall, couldn't believe his eyes as he watched a playing partner score a hole in one at the par-3, 185-yard eighth hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

Andrew Steffensmeier, a senior who helped lead St. Charles Preparatory School to the Division I boys state golf championship last fall, couldn't believe his eyes as he watched a playing partner score a hole in one at the par-3, 185-yard eighth hole at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

"I was up first (on the tee) and hit a pretty ball. It landed on the top of the ridge (at the front of the green) and nearly rolled in," he said, referring to a practice round he and others were playing in preparation for last October's nine-team Muirfield Invitational, an annual high school event played on the same course as the Memorial Tournament. "The next guy, he was a senior at Upper Arlington, knocked one on even closer than mine, maybe only about two feet away (from the pin).

"Then the third guy in our group, he was a freshman I think from Wellington, he steps up and got the first ace of his life. Man, that was amazing after seeing the two great shots we hit. He just dunked it in on us.

"We both made our putts so we finished the hole with a 2, another 2 and a 1. That's some pretty good scoring right there."

In fact, it's probably good enough to make even the PGA Tour stars who make the annual spring pilgrimage to Dublin green with envy. It also illustrates how the course, a par-72 layout that played at 7,265 yards for the Memorial professionals in 2009, can bring out the best in those fortunate enough to play it.

"I cherish every time I've had the chance," said Wellington senior Josh Taylor, who has the most Muirfield Village experiences among the six high school students ThisWeek Community Newspapers invited to share their insights. "I've played it about five or six times now - all for free, too - and I've caddied there a few times over the past couple of years.

"My friend's dad (Larry Dornisch) is the head pro out there. He graduated and went off to college, though, so I don't know about the next opportunity I'll get to play up there. I'm bummed about that."

Dedicated on Memorial Day 1974, with an exhibition match between former Ohio State players Tom Weiskopf and Memorial founder Jack Nicklaus, Muirfield Village, which features a water hazard on 11 holes, is named after the Scottish course where Nicklaus won the first of his three British Open titles in 1966.

That's also the same year Nicklaus, who co-designed the course with Desmond Muirhead, selected the site from among several other possibilities in central Ohio, eventually playing a major role in Dublin's growth and prosperity. The first Memorial was played in 1976, and today it remains one of the most popular events on the PGA Tour.

Our panel offered viewing tips as well as most of them are regular Memorial attendees. They include Dublin Jerome junior Jared Howard, whose team was runner-up (303 strokes) to St. Charles (302) at last fall's Muirfield Invitational as Dublin Coffman (319) finished third.

"I usually just set up a chair at (the No.) 15 (green) and watch the guys hit their second shots," Howard said of the last of the four par-5s, a 529-yard hole historically rated as the easiest on the course.
"You get to see a lot of eagle putts. The atmosphere is just great. There's a concession stand there and everything. And on Sunday, it's a hole where a guy can win it."

From their perspective

The Golfers
Zach Elkins is a junior at Dublin Coffman. He helped the Shamrocks finish fourth at the Division I state tournament. Aaron Hannigan is a senior at Watterson. He will attend Miami (Ohio) University and is interested in becoming a physical therapist. Jared Howard is a junior at Dublin Jerome. He helped the Celtics finish eighth at the Division I state tournament and also played on the state runner-up squad in 2008. Kris Simonton is a sophomore at Dublin Scioto. A versatile athlete, he plays multiple infield positions in baseball and also pitches. Andrew Steffensmeier is a senior at St. Charles. He helped lead the Cardinals to the Division I state title, tying for 18th individually in the 72-player field. He will play at the University of Dayton. Josh Taylor is a senior at Wellington. He helped the Jaguars finish fifth at the Division III state meet and also played on the squad that was seventh in 2008. He may play lacrosse in college.