Oakmont Country Club
by naimah jabali-nash
n 1904 a legend was born. This was no mythical tale of some Loch Ness Monster submerged in the depths of the sea, nor one of a hairy behemoth who wanders in dense forests. But one erected when death knocked on course designer, Henry C. Fownes’ door. Diagnosed with Asteriosclerosis and sentenced to three years to live, Fownes resorted to constructing a golf course that no man had ever seen. It would be a course that unmasked the feeble and where only the mighty few would prevail. And his unpretentious philosophy—“a shot misplayed is a shot irrevocably lost” would be the cornerstone for his masterpiece—Oakmont Country Club. Today, Fownes’ philosophy remains intact. Not for the faint of heart, Oakmont is the barometer of self-inflicted punishment. It harbors more than 200 penal bunkers that VITAL STATS besiege patrons and oil-slick greens that only reveal their intricacies to the select few who opened: 1904 have been granted a pardon. The Golden Bear, The Slammer, The Big Easy and El Gato location: Oakmont, PA have all emerged victorious. Host to eight U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, three pga designer: Henry C. Championships and one U.S. Women’s Open; it’s safe to say that Oakmont’s nuances Fownes grounds: 7,255 yards still warrant the fight Fownes intended. Though many have waved the white flag at the classification: private blades of Oakmont’s immaculate landscape, the valiant will rise again at the 2010 U.S. www.oakmontWomen’s Open as it returns to Pennsylvania’s crown jewel. The question is: Will you countryclub.org triumph or will you humbly accept defeat? Oakmont is the test.
Liz Leckemby Championship Director, 2010 U.S. Women’s Open Championship How long have you been at Oakmont to prepare? I arrived to Oakmont in September 2008, but had been working on this championship from a distance since February 2008. We have a full championship staff of five now working day in and day out, and solely on the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open Championship. How many are expected to attend the Open? We anticipate 125, 000 spectators for the seven days of the championship, and feel this is a very attainable number based on the historical numbers of the Women’s Open. Tom Wallace General Manager, Oakmont Country Club What is key to shooting a good round at Oakmont? For me, a key to shooting a good round is to just not play; but seriously, staying on the fairways and making sure you are below the pins is your best bet to having the best scoring round possible. Unfortunately, those are also some of the hardest things to do. Who is your favorite for the 2010 Open? We would love for our General Chairman and local hero, Carol Semple Thompson, to get an exemption and compete for the Championship. If that does not happen, I will just be
looking forward to a champion who will represent Oakmont Country Club’s championship legacy in the game of golf with the air of our past champions. Do you have a favorite Oakmont moment, and if so, what is it? I actually have two favorite moments during my tenure with Oakmont. Both of them are during the final hole and trophy ceremonies during the 2003 U.S. Amateur and the 2007 U.S. Open. I was very proud to stand there with my members and my team as we showed everyone the passion we have for championship golf. What do golfers take away from an experience at Oakmont? Besides bogeys…we pride ourselves on being, if not the best, then one of the best country club experiences in golf. From the time someone enters the front gate, to the time they step on the first tee, to their after round culinary experience. When most people are finished with their round, they come away with a new appreciation for Oakmont’s history, a new interpretation of what fast greens means and a new meaning for what a true test of golf is. I am confident to say that anyone would be hard pressed to have a better golf experience. John F. Zimmers, Jr. Grounds Superintendent, Oakmont Country Club What adjustments are being made in preparation for the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open? The two main golf course
52 June 2009
Photographs courtesy of Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont - 3rd Hole
adjustments would be the changes made to the tee complex at #2 and the tee complex at #17. A forward tee was installed on #2, a par 4, which allows the hole to be played from approximately 250-270 yards. On #17, a par 4, an additional forward tee was added which allows the hole to be played from approximately 235-245 yards. What is it about Oakmont that makes it host to the Women’s Open for the second time? Oakmont has an outstanding history of championships played here and hosted in conjunction with the usga. Is there a specific style of play that caters to Oakmont’s layout? Oakmont lends success to a player with a complete style of play. This is evident from reviewing the winners of past championships. What kind of grass is used on the course? The roughs are bluegrass and ryegrass. The fairways and tees are bentgrass and poa annua. And the greens are perennial poa annua. The type of perennial poa annua found on the greens at Oakmont is very unique. It is so rare that several universities have attempted to breed this grass but have not been successful to date.
A closer look at one of the game's most famed courses...