It seems as if Muirfield Village Golf Club finally has the balance Memorial Tournament founder Jack Nicklaus envisioned.

It seems as if Muirfield Village Golf Club finally has the balance Memorial Tournament founder Jack Nicklaus envisioned.

How else can you explain the fact that Nicklaus, who co-designed the course with Desmond Muirhead, once again has deemed the status-quo to be enough?

"This is the second year in a row that Jack and his staff (including course superintendent Paul Latshaw) felt the course performed well against the (Memorial) field and performed well throughout the whole year (for the membership)," tournament director Dan Sullivan said. "That being said, there have been no true physical changes."

About the only tweaks since last spring are the addition of new retaining walls on the second and seventh holes, Sullivan said. And that's more about combating Mother Nature's frequent Memorial wrath than offsetting technological advances made in golf balls and equipment over the past decade.

"The retaining walls at both holes will deter erosion," Sullivan said. "We'll see them help most in extreme conditions."

Nicklaus' stance on what the winning score should be has softened recently, but a series of major renovations that began in the mid-1990s and continued for nearly a decade definitely added teeth to Muirfield Village. The grumbling likely reached a crescendo in 2006, when he furrowed the sand traps with little advance notice. That caused some players to say they might not return.

Then in 2008, Kenny Perry captured his third career Memorial title with an 8-over-par 280 total, which was the highest winning score since Hale Irwin's 281 in 1985. It also was five strokes higher than Perry's victory five years earlier and eight strokes higher than the 273 he carded en route to a playoff win in '91.

The average score at Muirfield Village in 2008 was 74.397, which made it the fifth-toughest par-72 layout on the PGA Tour in relation to average score over par (2.397 strokes) that season, trailing only the four courses employed during major championships.

The weather, of course, usually wields some affect. Aside from Roger Maltbie's winning 288 total at the first Memorial in 1976, only two other times has the champion been in black numbers. That happened when Greg Norman in 1990 and Vijay Singh in '97 prevailed at an even-par 216 when both tournaments were shortened to 54 holes because of rain.

At the other end of the spectrum is 1994, when champion Tom Lehman set the tournament record at 20-under 268 by stringing together four consecutive 67s amid some of the most favorable weather conditions in the tournament's history.

"Jack has tried to make it a fair test," Perry said before last year's tournament. "I don't think he wants to make guys come in (at) even par or anything to win. But at the same time, I don't think he likes it when somebody's going way low, 15 or 16 under or something like that. He's got too much pride in the design to be comfortable with that on any kind of a regular basis."

That means finding some sort of middle ground, which might be where the course setup was a year ago when Tiger Woods become the event's first four-time champion at 12-under 276. The average score (73.425) was nearly one full stroke lower than in 2008.

"We're good right now, but I'm not saying there won't be more changes over time if the need is there," Sullivan said. "That's something Jack monitors very closely."