This week I have been daydreaming a lot about playing one of my favorite courses, Oakmont Country Club. Ever since the 2007 U.S. Open, I have wanted to play there. It has hosted nine U.S. Opens and will host the 2016 U.S. Open. Looking at the list of players who have won there, it would be a huge honor to play there one day.
Built in 1903, it is a little shorter (7,255 yards) than some of the more modern courses today. Any length it lacks is made up for in difficulty in all other areas, most notably the slope and difficult bunkers (over 200). William Fownes (son of the courses original creator) is responsible for most of the bunkers. He spend many years closely watching how golf was played at Oakmont and used that to make small adjustments to the course. For example, if he saw one of his fairway bunkers had become ineffective, he would work with the greens keeper and add another further up to keep the difficulty of the hole intact.
“A poor shot should be a shot irrevocably lost.” – William Fownes
Probably the most well known feature at Oakmont is the “church pew” bunkers between
the 3rd and 4th fairways. I think this is what made me fall in love with Oakmont. Whoever designed those particular bunkers did a fantastic job at making something so penalizing, so beautiful.
The only thing that makes me hesitate to play Oakmont is knowing that I’d probably shoot a record high score there. This is the course where Tiger Woods said, “A 10-handicap doesn’t break 100 on Oakmont.” Granted he was meaning in “U.S. Open conditions”, but it is still a little scary. Perhaps I’ll find out someday (under regular conditions as I doubt I’ll qualify for the 2016 Open or any others for that matter).