We’re in for a brutal, punishing and dare I say, unfair US Open this week at Oakmont.
Just a half hour drive out of Pittsburgh stands Oakmont Country Club, one of the most difficult golf courses in the world. Jason Day will lead the Australian charge around this devilish layout that will test some of the 156-man field and leave others signing their cards for some of the highest scores in their professional (and amateur) careers.
There is already lots of talk about how tricked up Oakmont is already. There may be some relief for the players with rains to soften the course on Thursday and Friday but we fear for the spectacle of the tournament on the weekend if the USGA decide the scores are too low.
Here are nine signs that Oakmont is going to play ridiculously hard this week.
1. The rough
The rough at Oakmont is ridiculous. And by that I mean, silly-ridiculous. We’re already seeing photos of ankle-deep rough just yards off the already narrow fairways. You can barely see the top of the golf ball when one lands in it. Rather than watching the best golfers in the world attempt to play a great recovery shot to the green, we’ll be seeing many golfers grabbing their lob wedge and just trying to hack it back out on to the fairway. As an example, Justin Thomas posted this to his Instagram account a few days ago.
2. Those Church Pews
Originally designed as a number of bunkers, the famous Church Pews lie between the third and fourth holes at Oakmont and were consolidated into one bunker in the 1920’s. There are 12 turf islands that stand three feet tall and could be regarded as a true hazard for pro golfers who usually hold no fear if there ball lands in a bunker. They may be hitting out sideways from the Church Pews.
3. “There’s nothing fun about Oakmont.”
Phil Mickelson had this to say about Oakmont:
“Courses are either fun, great or hard,” he explained. “There’s nothing fun about Oakmont. There’s nothing great about Oakmont. But it’s extremely hard. It’s probably the hardest course I’ve ever played.”
4. The longest par-3 in US Open history
The par-3 8th hole is 288 yards long. That’s 263 metres and clocks in as the longest par-3 in US Open history. While most of us would be hitting driver… or more if we could, the pros this week will be hitting 2-irons, hybrid and 3-wood’s into this green.
5. The 8th might be a “let-up” hole
And here is what is even more amazing about the 8th hole, it may be a hole where the pros can relax a little at Oakmont.
In the latest State of the Game podcast, Geoff Ogilvy has said the 8th is a “little bit of a let-up hole, in a way.”
“Because you can miss the green on either side. You can miss it short of the green and putt it up from 20 yards. The fear isn’t around the green, it’s just suggested that it’s probably slightly different in character from the rest of the course.”
6. Those glassy greens
Reportedly, it’s the only US Open course where the USGA need to slow down the greens ahead of the tournament. Sam Snead once remarked, “I tried to mark my ball on one of Oakmont’s greens but the coin slid off.”
Check out this video of Byeong Hun An playing a bunker shot during a practice round
A video posted by Byeong Hun An (@benan0917) on
7. It’s all about the pain
Members at Oakmont pride themselves on arguably having the hardest course in the USA. Reportedly the members often allow first-time golfers to Oakmont to double their handicap before offering them a bet they won’t beat it. It’s all about pain at Oakmont as one of their members described to Jason Sobel at ESPN:
“One of the phrases somebody coined a while back,” explained Curt Coulter, a seven-time club champion, “is that Oakmont is a place where we punish our members, torture our guests and no one can wait to come back tomorrow.”
8. The lack of strategy and high scores
Many golf experts have been lamenting the lack of strategy Oakmont Country Club dishes up and it’s hard to argue when the fairways are narrowed to just 20 yards in driving zones, brutal rough just off the fairway and glassy greens. Unfortunately, we’re going to see some of the world’s best ball-strikers hacking out sideways and many players missing putts from inside three feet. This is going to get nasty and any four-round scores under par will be frighteningly good golf.
9. Tough start
If you think these guys can just ease their way into a round this week you’re wrong. The first hole is at Oakmont is considered to be one of the toughest opening holes in world golf. At the 2007 US Open it averaged over half a shot harder than par.