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Oakmont Country Club

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Oakmont Country Club

A view of one of the 'church pews' bunkers at Oakmont Country Club from the third hole.

Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Oakmont Country Club

Cristie Kerr plays to the 9th green, behind which sits the Oakmont Country Club clubhouse, during the 2010 US Women's Open.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Oakmont Country Club is one of the grand old golf courses of America, considered one of the best and most challenging in the world. Located outside of Pittsburgh, the private Oakmont offers lush fairways tightly framed by punishing rough, and greens that are lightning fast with plenty of movement. Oakmont's membership is famous for relishing the difficulty of its golf course. And as befits a great and tough course, Oakmont's list of past champions is among the most impressive in the game (see below).

Oakmont Country Club pictures

Address: 1233 Hulton Road, Oakmont, PA 15139
Phone: (412) 828-8000
Web site

Oakmont Architects:

Oakmont Country Club's original design was courtesy of Henry C. Fownes, who founded the club in 1903. The course opened in 1904, and Fownes' son, William - an accomplished amateur - continued tweaking the course's design for many years to come.

Several famous architects have done restoration and renovation work at Oakmont through the years, including Robert Trent Jones Sr., Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay and Arthur Hills. Tom Fazio handled the most recent work, finished in 2006.

Yardages and Ratings:

Oakmont is par-71* for men and par-75 for women (Red tees rated for women).

  • Green - 7,255 yards, 77.5 rating/147 slope
  • Blue - 6,436 yards, 74/134
  • White - 6,221 yards, 72.4/130
  • Red - 5,629 yards, 75.6/136
From the Green tees:

No. 1 - par 4 - 482 yards
No. 2 - par 4 - 340
No. 3 - par 4 - 428
No. 4 - par 5 - 609
No. 5 - par 4 - 382
No. 6 - par 3 - 194
No. 7 - par 4 - 479
No. 8 - par 3 - 288
No. 9 - par 5 - 477
No. 10 - par 4 - 462
No. 11 - par 4 - 379
No. 12 - par 5 - 667
No. 13 - par 3 - 183
No. 14 - par 4 - 358
No. 15 - par 4 - 499
No. 16 - par 3 - 213
No. 17 - par 4 - 313
No. 18 - par 4 - 484

*par-70 during U.S. Open

Significant Tournaments Hosted:

Oakmont Country Club has been the site of more U.S. Opens than any other course, 2007 marking the eighth such occasion.

1919 U.S. Amateur: S. Davidson Herron
1922 PGA Championship: Gene Sarazen
1925 U.S. Amateur: Bobby Jones
1927 U.S. Open: Tommy Armour
1935 U.S. Open: Sam Parks Jr.
1938 U.S. Amateur: William Turnesa
1951 PGA Championship: Sam Snead
1953 U.S. Open: Ben Hogan
1962 U.S. Open: Jack Nicklaus
1969 U.S. Amateur: Steve Melnyk
1973 U.S. Open: Johnny Miller
1978 PGA Championship: John Mahaffey
1983 U.S. Open: Larry Nelson
1992 U.S. Women's Open: Patty Sheehan
1994 U.S. Open: Ernie Els
2003 U.S. Amateur: Nick Flanagan
2007 U.S. Open: Angel Cabrera
2010 U.S. Women's Open: Paula Creamer

Oakmont Country Club Trivia:

  • Williams Fownes, son of founder Henry C. Fownes, won the 1910 U.S. Amateur and captained the first U.S. Walker Cup team in 1922.
  • Oakmont has been the site of more U.S. Opens than any other course. Including other professional majors plus the U.S. Amateur, Oakmont has hosted more majors total than any other U.S. course. (Not including Augusta National, which is the permanent site of one of the majors.)
  • Jack Nicklaus defeated Arnold Palmer in a playoff to win the 1962 U.S. Open at Oakmont, Nicklaus' first professional victory.
  • Johnny Miller's closing round of 63 to win the 1973 U.S. Open is one of the iconic rounds in golf history. It was once voted the "greatest round of the 20th century." It is also the Oakmont course record.

More about Oakmont Country Club:

How difficult is Oakmont Country Club? In 2007, the USGA confirmed what had long been rumored: for the U.S. Open, Oakmont's greens have to be slowed down from the speeds members play them.

Oakmont's list of past champions includes Sarazen, Snead, Hogan, Nicklaus, Jones, Armour and Miller, among others - another part of the course's pedigree. And Oakmont has been the site of eight U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, three PGA Championships and one U.S. Women's Open, 17 majors (including the Amateur) total - more than any other golf course in America.

There is no water on the Oakmont Country Club layout, but nearly 200 bunkers, many of them deep, and 4- to 8-inch deep rough provide plenty in the way of hazards.

Most famous among the bunkers - one of the most famous hazards in golf - is the Church Pews bunker, which sits between the third and fourth fairways and can come into play for golfers on both holes. The bunker is so-called because its sandy expanse is broken up by a series of grassy berms that appear to some as rows of church pews.

It's an apt name, because knocking a ball into the Church Pews bunker has inspired many a golfer to say a prayer.

During the most recent update to the course, Tom Fazio expanded the Church Pews bunker. A smaller version on the back nine has also been restored. (More on the Church Pews)

The club was founded in 1903 by Henry C. Fownes, who designed the original layout in his only foray into golf course design. Fownes founded the club after making his fortune in the steel business and after selling out to Andrew Carnegie.

Oakmont's layout went through much tweaking over the years, much of it in its early days by Fownes' son William. But most of the essential characteristics of Oakmont have remained the same throughout its life.

Two major changes are aesthetic ones, and both involve trees. The original layout was mostly treeless, open to the wind. A "beautification program" in the 1960s led to the planting of thousands of trees along its holes, and Oakmont transformed into a more typical American parkland course.

Beginning around 1994, following Ernie Els' U.S. Open win that year, the club began removing trees, as much in the beginning to provide more sunlight to its turfgrasses as for any desire to return to the original aesthetic. But traditionalists at the club decided to go all-out and a massive tree-removal program began.

It was expected to be so controversial among club members that in the early stages most of the tree removals took place at night. Eventually around 5,000 trees were removed, and today Oakmont resembles its original self. Trees still lines its perimeter, but the interior of the course is mostly treeless.

Another change over time involves a reduction in the number of bunkers. Yes, Oakmont Country Club once had more than its current number of 180 bunkers. At one time there were more than 300 bunkers around Oakmont.

There has also been some lengthening of the course. The par-3 No. 8, for example, can now play as long as 288 yards.

Oakmont Country Club sports bentgrass and poa annua fairways, with poa annua greens that are cut to a height of .09 inches (less than one-tenth of an inch). It's estimated those greens roll at around 14 on the Stimpmeter for member play, but are slowed to 13 or 13.5 for tournament play - easily still among the fastest and most challenging greens in tournament golf.

Sources: Oakmont Country Club, USGA, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, Golf Digest

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