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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Guest Article by Bryan Nourse: Unfair or Challenging?

The following article was submitted this afternoon by the one and only Bryan Nourse, of Fishers, IN. As a single-digit handicapper who has played courses from Cypress Point to L.A. Country Club, Noursey Boy knows his golf. Bryan dissects the course, its history, and how the players will stand up to Oakmont's challenge as one of the toughest golf courses in the world. Enjoy!

The US Open will be taking place this week at the very historic Oakmont Country Club outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is hosting its 8th US Open and the most in US Open history. It has also hosted 5 US Amateur Championships, 3 PGA Championships, 1 women’s US Open (they let women out there?) and several NCAA Division 1 Men's Championships. Much of the talk this year is whether the course is unfair or just challenging to the world's best.

Is it unfair? Let me give you some numbers and commentary. Oakmont Country Club will be playing at a par 70 at 7,355 yards. Its current course rating is 78.6 with a slope of 150. It has a par three (8th Hole) that is measured at 288 yards where most players will be forced to hit driver and will undoubtedly come up short. Out of the 213 players on tour, only 71 of them currently have an average driving distance of 288 yards or higher. The 3rd tier rough is cut at 5 ½ inches. The average fairway width is only 27 yards. Players unanimously agree that par will win this tournament. When The Golf Channel asked Tiger Woods in a press conference what he thought was the easiest hole on the course, he merely responded with, “The 19th.” Analysts are predicting +3 as the winning figure. Sergio mentioned it could possibly be 4 more than that. Phil Mickelson was quoted as saying holes 7 thru 10 are the toughest holes in golf. The greens are a chilling 13-14 on the Stimpmeter, and the undulations are described as excruciating. The greens are so fast that the great Gene Sarazen had a putt in the 1935 Open where the ball finally came to stop at the bottom of a bunker. Palmer three putted 11 times in the 1962 Open. Speaking of sand and bunkers, Oakmont has 210 of them. And if there is a tie after 72 holes, you still gotta go another day to get your name on the trophy. Is it unfair?

Or, is it just a challenge? Let me give you some numbers and commentary. Oakmont is only 7,355 yards, not exactly short, but by no means the longest on Tour. The players say it’s not a bombers course. Oakmont has cut down more than 5000 trees over the past 10 years, which has opened up tee shots. Oakmont once had 350 bunkers, but they have been reduced to 210 over the years, and there is absolutely no water on the course. Good scores can be made. Johnny Miller shot 63 in the final round in the ’73 Open at Oakmont. Ben Hogan and Ernie Els have both won an Open at Oakmont with a total score of 5 under. Ben didn’t even have the benefit of the technological advancements in golf equipment or the golf ball. And finally in his practice round this Tuesday, Trevor Immelman aced the par 3 eighth hole with a pulled 3-wood.

So I ask you…unfair? Or just a challenge? My vote is this Open is gonna be one hell of a challenge.


Blogger mom said...

Great writing....must be the Carden education!

6:35 PM  

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