U.S. Women’s Open Championship
Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club
Yardage: 6,598 yards
Defending champion: Eun-Hee Ji
Designer: H.C. Fownes
USGA championships: This will be the 15th USGA championship for Oakmont and the second U.S. Women’s Open held at Oakmont. In 1992, Patty Sheehan defeated Juli Inkster in an 18-hole playoff for the first of her two Women’s Open titles.
Championship notes: The ninth hole, which played as a long par 4 for the 2007 U.S. Open, will measure 477 yards and be a par 5 for the women. The short, uphill par-4 second hole likely will see tee markers moved up some 75 yards to make it a 250-yard hole and reachable for the game’s longer hitters. The short 17 th hole will measure 245 yards, while the downhill par-3 eighth hole could play either 225 or 252 yards.
No walk in the park: Oakmont could lay claim as the most-challenging venue used for USGA competitions. At the 2003 U.S. Amateur, only one golfer out of the 312 starters for stroke-play qualifying managed to break par (70), while the stroke average was 79.014. Then again, Johnny Miller carded a final-round 63 to win the 1973 U.S. Open, which is considered by many to be one of the best 18-hole rounds in major-championship history.
Chopping wood: Forty-plus years ago, Oakmont underwent a massive tree planting campaign that turned the layout into a parkland course. Not long after the 1994 U.S. Open, the club board decided to give the classic course a major restoration, removing some 5,000 trees over a 10-year period to give Oakmont a retro look that has drawn rave reviews from the public and golf media. Even though the layout now resembles a links course, Oakmont still hasn’t lost its luster as a major-championship venue.
Extra, extra: Could overtime be in order at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open? Three of the last four USGA competitions held at Oakmont have all gone to a playoff. Besides Sheehan’s win over Inkster, Ernie Els claimed the first of his two U.S. Open titles by defeating Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts in a playoff for the 1994 U.S. Open. And in 2003, Nick Flanagan of Australia needed 37 holes (scheduled 36-hole final) to defeat Casey Wittenberg for the U.S. Amateur championship. It’s also important to note that Jack Nicklaus won the first of four U.S. Open titles in an 18-hole playoff over hometown favorite and western Pennsylvania native son Arnold Palmer in 1962 at Oakmont.
Home club hero: The first USGA championship staged at Oakmont was the 1919 U.S. Amateur, where Oakmont club member S. Davidson Herron (not related to PGA Tour player Tim Herron) defeated a young Bobby Jones in the championship match, 5 and 4. Herron is one of a handful of golfers to capture a USGA championship on his home course. Six years later, Jones would return to Oakmont to capture the second of his five U.S. Amateur titles, an 8-and-7 triumph over fellow Georgian Watts Gunn. In 1935, Pittsburgh native Sam Parks won the U.S. Open at Oakmont by two strokes over Jimmy Thomson.
Conservation efforts: Like many courses, Oakmont is doing its share to go green. It has replaced hydraulic oil with biodegradable vegetable oil in applicable equipment. During its extensive tree-removal project, the club re-used the wood for wood-burning fireplaces and also recycled remaining logs and woody debris to produce mulch for landscaping on club property. A participant in the Audubon International Society, Oakmont is home to deer, hawks, turkey, rabbits, fox, squirrels and various species of birds. Over the years, the club has also significantly decreased its water usage through better irrigation efficiency.
Quotable: Oakmont is the single hardest golf course I ever played in my entire life. – three-time USA Walker Cup member Trip Kuehne at 2003 U.S. Amateur