The prevailing course conditions require more truly struck shots than anywhere else.
The Olympic Club was my first and enduring connection to the game's unofficial but undisputed world rota. But more than anything, there will be the anticipation of real history, a mystique that began with Hogan. After visiting Northern California for the first time, in the s, architect Alister Mackenzie wrote, "The sand-dune country owned by The Olympic Club, although not so spectacular as that on the Monterey Peninsula, is the finest golfing territory I have seen in America.
Olympic is inarguably special. From there Olympic becomes a potential comeback course, with Augusta-style stroke swings especially possible on the last four holes: the yard 15th; the behemoth, yard 16th; the reachable but risky yard, par-5 17th; and the yard 18th, which will be given some finishing-hole rigor with a yard-wide fairway. Open venue. Miller, who was given a junior membership at Olympic several years before tying for eighth in the Open at 19, has been the most insistent expounder of San Francisco golf.
That image will always stay with me, but even more vivid was the emerald ribbon of the 18th fairway. Full Leaderboard. Par-5 17th green bottom leftyard 18th. Before the U. Open at Olympic, Rosburg, who passed away infondly remembered his s upbringing in the city's Richmond district, saying, "to grow up a golfer in San Francisco when I did was special.
Though it lies little more than a mile from Harding just across Lake Merced, the course has existed in the distance for me. The city's best have always been artistic players, reflected in the iron mastery of Venturi and Miller, the short-game wizardry of Bob Rosburg, and the putting of George Archer, a foursome that collectively won the Grand Slam. See, I'm not the only one. It was akin to going through the doors of a major-league ballpark for the first time and looking down on the field, except that Olympic's shade of green was even richer than Candlestick Park's.
When we got there, people were leaving, and we parked near the clubhouse.
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I always looked forward to getting to the 14th tee, from where I could view Olympic's majestic cream and red-roof clubhouse framed above fairways and forest, the composition so perfect it looked like a painted '50s movie backdrop for Camelot or Shangri-La. Giants of the game took note. The sensation was similar to the shift from black and white to Technicolor in "The Wizard of Oz. So, yes, I'll admit major bias when it comes to evaluating Olympic as the premier championship site for a U.
But that doesn't mean it isn't true.
Perhaps the best evidence the San Francisco area fostered complete golfers was the way Tony Lema, who grew up across the bay in San Leandro and worked in the golf shop at the San Francisco Golf Club, won the British Open at the Old Course the first time he ever played in the British Isles. Though still comparatively little on the card, Olympic will once again play big. On the leader board was the unbelievable evidence that Palmer hadn't won, that somehow he and Billy Casper had tied. Miller, also biased, thinks the new Olympic might prove itself to be the greatest test in modern championship golf.
The Lake Course will feature the most rigorous start in major-championship golf. Their hole final in at Harding Park, which Venturi won, 4 and 3, was attended by a gallery of 10, There's the great city itself, no lightning delays, and prime-time television coverage back East. Courses San Francisco Love Story.
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I also knew Olympic was San Francisco's key link to golf history, the poignant place where Ben Hogan and Arnold Palmer had fallen hardest, from where Johnny Miller had risen, and about which Charles Price and Dan Jenkins had written with mind-opening style in the coffee-table golf books I kept by my bed. My most powerful memory of Olympic remains the first time I saw it close up, on the afternoon of the fourth round of the Open, when I was After hearing on the car radio that Palmer led by seven strokes with nine to play, my father decided to turn off Interstate and head for the coronation.
With the first hole being changed from an easy par 5 to a yard par 4, the player is put on the defensive and doesn't get even close to a break until the drivable seventh, a par 4 of yards. Palmer then walked by with a security escort, resplendent in a deep-blue cardigan and white shirt, even his bronzed face muscular, but his lips pursed and his eyes wounded.
In short, there is no scraping it around Olympic.
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Added: Victoria Wiles - Date: It has been 35 years since I've lived in my hometown of San Francisco, and for as many of the great golf places I've been lucky enough to Riverside since, it's clear that I was long ago imprinted by the colors and smells and turf and trees of the city where I learned to play. Harding Park remains my template of an American parkland course, and Lincoln Park, with its bony and beautiful funkiness, prepared me to feel at home on the spare classics of the British Isles.
No "little" course ever played so big. Trending Now. Arron Oberholser, who grew up just outside of San Francisco before becoming a winner on the PGA Tour, calls Olympic and other city courses "the land of the yard 6-iron," adding, "It's just a harder brand of golf than anywhere else. In my opinion, a San Francisco-bred golfer travels well.
Even without a water hazard, only one fairway bunker and measuring less than 6, yards in each of its first four U. Opens played there from '98, the combined escort by the winners was two over par. Byron Nelson, after winning the San Francisco Open three times in the '40s, came back regularly owo the '50s to play exhibitions and tutor the young Ken Venturi.
The USGA thought the same thing, and needed to vet a lengthened version of the course by about yards with the U. That championship went well, but the Olympic leadership stayed proactive, making even bigger changes that will allow this year's Open to be played at 7, yards, par 70 see "A More Open Course," by Ron Whitten.
I look forward to a re-energizing of the once-vaunted San Francisco golf continuum. Factor its full menu of components holes, the level downtown club on Post Street, a circa Arthur Brown Jr. Even putting all that aside, for the purposes of rating a U. Open site, the jewel that is the Lake Course is plenty. The Olympic Club, by contrast, I think of as an unattainable ideal. I've always worshipped the Lake Course more than I've known it. I really loved playing there. But just as Miller has been the last of the great San Francisco-bred players, Olympic's days of hosting the Open appeared to have passed with the equipment and distance revolution that changed pro golf around After the multilayer ball in particular instantly added 10 yards to the drives of most touring pros, the Lake Course seemed to get a lot less Olympian.
Even after I got to play it a few times, I never wanted it to feel familiar.