Oakmont Country ClubGolf Course Review by: Bill Satterfield
Designer: Henry Fownes in 1904
Phone Number: (412) 828-3330
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Oakmont's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 1233 Hulton Rd., Oakmont, Pennsylvania
Accolades: Ranked 5th on Golf Digest's 2013-14 Top 100 Greatest Golf Courses in America and 1st in the state of Pennsylvania.
What to Expect: Oakmont is the most impressive test of golf I've ever played. It tests every skill a golfer should have and makes no apologies. The course has a few flashy features (church pew bunkers, elevation changes, and lightning fast greens) to make it memorable but nothing to the point that someone would acuse Oakmont of being "tricked up." The greens run 14-15 on the stimpmeter during member play and are actually slowed down when the U.S. Open comes to town. The course features excellent variety in hole lengths and has enough elevation changes to maintain your interest throughout the round. Baltusrol and Winged Foot West both are excellent tournament courses that test one's skill, but Oakmont adds in more interesting bunkering, elevations, and variety.
Signature Hole: 18th - 484 Yard Par 4 - The picturesque 18th hole at Oakmont has long been touted as one of the best inland finishing holes in America. Five bunkers lie in wait of any tee shot that isn't striped down the middle of the short grass. The longish approach shot plays to a green that is protected by a series of four small bunkers on the left and a larger bunker on the right. The finishing hole typifies the entire course; a tough but fair hole that will reward good shots and make bad shots look even worse. Lastly, the clubhouse at Oakmont is as signature as any feature found at the club. The walls are covered with photos, trophys, scorecards, and other memorabilia that only an eight time host of the U.S. Open could sport.
By the Numbers:
Individual Hole Analysis
Best Par 3: 6th - 194 Yards - The par threes at Oakmont aren't flashy, they are just solid. What makes this hole great is that the distance is pretty easy to handle, but the slope from right to left on the incredibly fast green makes hitting the middle or left side of the green imperative. A pin in the back right corner is just flat out mean since balls can come rolling back to the middle of the green while a chip shot from the right side of the green has zero chance of finishing close to the hole.
Best Par 4: 3rd - 478 Yards - Church pews - enough said. OK, I'll say more. The iconic 12 row church pew bunkers represent the most recognizable sand and fescue complex in America. Not only are the church pew bunkers cool to look at, but the are extremely penal. Avoid those bunkers and you'll still be faced with an uphill approach shot to a semi-blind green.
Best Par 5: 4th - 609 Yards - While the 3rd hole assumes the reputation of the church pew bunkers, you aren't done with them until you play down the 4th hole where you will again find them resting on your left. This downhill par five is reachable in two despite the 609 yard distance it plays due to the firmness of the fairways and how much this hole ends up playing downhill. If you can avoid the church pew bunkers and the addtional 16 other bunkers on this hole then there is a good chance to put a four on your scorecard.
Birdie Time: 14th - 358 Yard Par 4 - The short 14th hole features a series of wide but short bunkers up the right side of this hole and five more bunkers up the left side. It seems clear that the architect is trying to force the golfer into putting away his driver, but doesn't eliminate the option all together. The green is the second largest on the course and with a wedge or short iron in your hand for your approach shot your should have a great chance of knocking in a birdie.
Bogey Beware: 8th - 288 Yard Par 3 - Most avid golfers are familiar with the term of 1/2 par holes, however the 8th at Oakmont is worthy of a new classification called the 3 3/4 par. At 288 yards with a 100 yard long bunker up the left side, most players will score a bogey three out of four times. The longest par three in major championship history, the 8th hole is a big, tough, brute of a hole and one of the few times you'll need to tee up your driver to reach the green.
Final Cut: Grade A+