Yesterday afternoon I was thinking about the upcoming U.S. Open at The Olympic Club’s Lake Course. Of the courses where the U.S. Open has been held over the last 20 years, I have been fortunate enough to visit all of them except for Oakland Hills and Torrey Pines. As I realized this it got me thinking about which U.S. Open course had been the toughest for me as a player.
Bethpage Black is a course that comes up in this discussion fairly regularly and it’s a valid contender for sure. The Black is brutal and can eat players alive with its forced carries and thick rough . . . so much so that they have a sign posted to warn us hacks about what we are getting ourselves into! Winged Foot and Oakmont are also obvious nominees and share the distinction of generating the highest winning U.S. Open scores (5 over par) of the modern golf era. You can always throw Merion into this discussion as well which is famous for the long rough that severely penalizes players who stray from the fairways. Back in 1950 when Ben Hogan won at Merion his final score was 7 over par!
As I pondered the question a bit more I came to the conclusion that Olympic Club’s Lake Course was the one U.S. Open course that was the toughest for me personally. Even playing it from just 6,600 yards this course just pounded me. Accuracy is crucial as there are no good misses and just getting off the fairway can easily add a stroke or more to a score. There are a lot of trees at Olympic Club and a loose swing has a good possibility of finding a very problematic lie. I expect that we are going to see some really creative recovery shots throughout the course of U.S. Open week . . . some will be well executed, others not so much.
I’m really looking forward to this years U.S. Open getting underway as it’s going to be a ton of fun to watch. When it’s all said and done on Sunday afternoon I believe that the player who tames this beast of a course is going to have put on an unbelievably incredible display of golf. I can’t wait to see it!