“I played Oakmont the last two days. It truly is, I think, the hardest golf course we’ve ever played,” Mickelson told reporters in Memphis ahead of the FedEX St. Jude Classic.
Oakmont regularly ranks inside the top five hardest golf courses in the world, here’s why:
1. The Scores
Situated near Pittsburg’s northeast suburbs, the course has played host to nine U.S Opens, with Ben Hogan, Ernie Els and Johnny Miller sharing the venue record of -5. The fact that Miller constantly reminds us of his 63 – a record to this day – should take nothing away from his achievement.
Lee Trevino once remarked that every time he two-putted he passed someone on the leader board. Angel Cabrera proved this theory correct when he posted a +5 winning score back in 2007.
2. The Bunkers
Oakmont has barely any water hazards and almost no trees. Built in the style of a links course, it’s the beach that can ruin a player’s scorecard. 210 traps are capped off by the legendary Church Pews Bunker.
3. The Greens
Oakmont inspired the invention of the Stimpmeter, a device used by the USGA to measure and rank the pace of greens. The inventor, Edward S. Stimpson, Sr., attended the 1935 open and was convinced the greens were unreasonably fast when he witnessed Gene Sarazan hit a putt.
Sam Snead once commented that he tried to mark his ball on one of Oakmont’s greens but the coin slid off.
This clip illustrates that danger perfectly.
4. The Rough
As Phil suggests, the organisers know exactly what they’re doing. “They let the rough grow long — if it’s wet they’ll leave it like that, if it’s dry they’ll thin it out because less balls will hit the fairway.”
This could be a determining factor when you consider the weather forecast for the next 10 days. Scattered showers might misinform the organisers into keeping the rough long and this will certainly affect the scoring average as the thermometer is expected to hit 90.
I agree with Phil when he says this is the hardest venue ever played. I think the rough will be left long, the greens will be lightning fast and they will want to remind the world that this is a formidable challenge. Courses like Oakmont love their notoriety. So why wouldn’t they shoot for being “The Hardest Golf Course in the World”?