Five things you might not know about the Olympic Club, this week’s US Open venue
The second golf Major of the year takes place this weekend. The US Open generally throws up a ball-breaker of a course and this year would appear to be no different. Here’s some stuff you probably don’t know about the Olympic Club.
1. The score currently stands at The Course 4, The Golfers 0
The Olympic has held the US Open on four previous occasions, and it’s fair to say the course has come out on top on every occasion. The lowest winning total was Scott Simpson’s three-under-par total of 277 in 1987, and a total of just four players have finished under-par in those four tournaments: Simpson and Tom Watson in ’87 and Billy Casper and Arnold Palmer in 1966. The other winning scores were Even (Lee Janzen in 1998) and +7 (Jack Fleck after a play-off with Ben Hogan in 1955).
2. It lays claim to possibly the most difficult pin position in Major Championship history
In the second round in 1998 the powers-that-be saw fit to set the cup on the 18th hole at the top of a ridge. The result? It was virtually impossible to get close to the hole, with balls which drifted a few inches past hitting the ridge and rolling to the bottom of the incline. Kirk Triplett eventually had a Howard Beale in Network moment, getting mad as hell and not taking it any more. He decided to stop his ball from rolling into the valley by stopping it with his putter, and picked up a two-stroke penalty for his troubles. If you’re looking forward to any repeat this weekend you’ll be disappointed – the green was levelled in 2000.
3. The greats finish second there
You’d win the award for Top Anorak if you could’ve told us before now what Jack Fleck, Billy Casper, Scott Simpson and Lee Janzen had in common. (Our answer would’ve been a tentative: “They’re golfers?”) The right answer is that they’re the four players who’ve won US Opens at the Olympic. The good news for anyone who comes up just short this weekend is that they’ll be in good company. The four previous runners-up – Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Payne Stewart – have 27 Major titles between them.
4. Tiger Woods is playing this weekend, but there are other woods there too
There are three courses at the Olympic but the Lake Course, where all of the US Opens have been held, is undoubtedly the woodiest. The 18 holes include 40,000 trees. That’s more than 2000 per hole. To be honest, we’re not sure how that’s even possible.
5. Its clubhouse was once obliterated by an earthquake
The Olympic Club is a rare example of a Major championship golf club situated within the boundaries of a major city. The course itself is on the outskirts of the city (but still mostly within the city limits) while its clubhouse has always been in downtown San Francisco. The current clubhouse is the replacement for a previous one which was reduced to rubble in the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.