The Oakmont Country Club was built in 1903 by men and mules who liked things hard and it hasn’t changed at all.
“A shot poorly played should be a shot irrevocably lost,” said William C. Fownes, son of club founder Henry Fownes. There is no forgiveness when it comes to the hazards on this golf course. Either you’re in the fairway or not, and when you’re not you might as well just pick up from there. Too bad the pro’s don’t have that option.
“Once you become a member here, you just kind of go along with the train,” says Bob Ford, Oakmont’s head professional since 1979. “The train is going down the road. We want it hard. We want it fast. We want it impossible, and we’re not in favor of low scores.”
If you’re someone who sets goals for themselves and likes to improve on their game, don’t go to Oakmont. You will most likely quit before you lower your score on this course. If you’re a masochist or just like an impossible challenge, then by all means make the trip to Pennsylvania. The professionals are being handed a rough card but they should be able to rise to the occasion.
When courses are preparing to host an event like a major, the idea is to make it harder by growing out the rough or speeding up the greens, but here it’s always this difficult. One thing they have done over the years is deepen the bunkers.
“They’ve really deepened them,” said Pittsburgh amateur Chad Warmbein. “Obviously, the Church Pews Bunker between No. 3 and No. 4 is really hard to play out of, but lots of others have been deepened. If you hit it in any of the fairway bunkers, it’s essentially a water hazard.”
Now they don’t need to change a thing to prepare except keep to the already in place maintenance schedule. They know it’s a hard course and that’s what makes it uniquely theirs. The members are not and should not apologize for it.
I think that the members at Oakmont are crazy people but I do believe that this course is always a true test for the professionals, which is what the majors are for. While most tournaments separate the amazing from the norm, this course puts everyone on the same playing field. Not only will the pros have to think about each and every shot they take but they have to remember to keep a level head while doing so. This is true for any tournament but this one specifically puts them in the position to play to their higher and tougher standards and fail if they don’t.