It’s officially U.S. Open week and the tournament is set to begin Thursday at Oakmont Country Club. Oakmont is set to host its ninth U.S. Open and first since 2007. It is often considered the best course for major championship golf in the whole world. The picturesque bunkers, lighting quick greens and thick rough make it the perfect championship host. Going along with this, it is also regarded as one of the toughest courses in the world. The winning score in 2007 was +5.
Watching the tournament this week and weekend will make all amateurs feel a little better about their golf game. They will watch the pros miss greens, 3 putt, and make double and triple bogeys like they are popular. The course demands the best out of every aspect of the game and those who are not hitting it well or putting it well will get exposed. I’d be shocked if anyone finishes 72 holes under par this week and I think the winning score will be more like +3 or +4.
One thing the players will be dealing with this week is the setup. The USGA is known to have some holes playing ridiculous yardages and this year is no different. Check out Michael Greller’s tweet when he got to Oakmont.
Yes, a 288 yard par 3… To put that into context, former U.S. Open champions: Graeme McDowell, Webb Simpson, Padraig Harrington and Retief Goosen all average drives less than that on the PGA Tour this year. The 8th hole will be stretched out that far at least one of the days this week and begs the question; will we see a driver on a par 3 this week? We may not, the ground is known to fast and firm and the players have the ability to run it up on the front of the green but if the conditions are right, this hole might just see a driver of the tee.
Another hole that can be stretched out is number 12, the par 5. This hole can play a maximum of 667 yards. Thats the second longest hole in U.S. Open history behind the 16th hole at The Olympic Club. Not even Bubba or Dustin Johnson will be able to reach this par 5 in two.
The main defense at Oakmont is the lightning fast and severely sloped greens. They are often called the most challenging greens in the world and for good reason. The combination of the speed and the slope makes for some impossible putts. Many times, players will be happy to 3 putt. These greens truly test a players stroke and confidence with the putter. Players know if you miss a putt, theres a good possibility its going 4 or 5 feet past the hole. The players who are confident and stroking the ball well will gain plenty of strokes on those who are struggling to find the feel. (If you want any indication of how fast the greens are, go putt a golf ball on your kitchen floor or out in your driveway.) Rickie Fowler got a little taste of this earlier this week
(Video via Snapchat)
A player may hit the green and still be happy with a bogey on some of these greens because as you can see, they don’t stop.
Another penalizing aspect of Oakmont is its rough. Much like the greens, it’s rough is some of the hardest in the world. They let it grow long and thick, which makes it almost impossible to hit a full shot out of. Players won’t be able to see their shoe laces in some spots and many balls might only miss the fairway by a yard but still need minutes to find. Take a look at Justin Thomas dropping his ball into the rough on the par 4, 17th hole. The ball disappears. He is standing a foot away and you cannot see it. This rough is THICK and it will penalize any tee shot or approach shot that finds.
This year’s U.S. Open will be the toughest it has been in years. I am going to have plenty of fun watching this week. I love this kind of golf and you get to truly witness the best of the best and also the more human like side of some unfortunate souls in which Oakmont will claim. If someone can survive the four days and be at or below par, you can bet they will be hoisting the trophy come Sunday. Stay tuned later this week where I break down who has the best chance to do so.
Also, how has this course not been nicknamed Oak-monster Country Club before???? It’s perfect. It may catch on but probably not, just some food for thought.