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Ran Morrissett

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Why Oakmont is better today than when Jones won
« on: August 13, 2003, 10:42:54 PM »
When Bob Jones won the US Amateur there in 1925, the course measured near 6,900 yards. Remembering the equipment of the day, this course must have been off the charts in terms of difficulty. There is only relief in Jones's words as to having won there. In fact, Armour famously remarked in 1927, "It was a great relief when the round was over."

Roll the clock forward and today you have a course only a few hundred yards longer. The course is blessed with short two shotters like the 2nd (!), 5th (!), 11th, 14th and 17th (!!), short to medium one shotters like the 6th (!) and 13th and a superb reachable three shotter in the 4th.

All in all, this gives the course great variety and a wonderful spectrum of holes of the sort that frankly didn't play like that in the 1920s.

My vote: Oakmont has never been a more engaging course than it is today, especially for its members and the 99.999% of us who have a handicap.

Fownes might well disagree but speaking from the perspective of the less skilled, there is a much more pleasing give and take within its collection of 18 holes as they play today. Rather than just continually being bludgeoned into submission ala what I imagine 1925 must have been like, the contestants next week must continually analyze and re-analyze when to thrust and when to parry - isn't that infinitely more interesting/exciting?

« Last Edit: August 13, 2003, 10:44:28 PM by Ran Morrissett »


Re:Why Oakmont is better today than when Jones won
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2003, 11:08:56 PM »

For most of us, I'd agree. long as we don't see holes like the 470 yard 1st and 10th being approached with 9 irons and wedges, I would agree that it's a better course for the best players, as well.

It will be interesting to see who wins this arms race, and if the variety you speak of is still accurate at the highest levels of the amateur game.


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Re:Why Oakmont is better today than when Jones won
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2003, 12:27:11 PM »
Mike, of course you're going to see short irons and wedges into #1 and #10.  Those are downhill tee shots on firm turf, those kids will be killing 330 yd tee shots and hitting wedges.  Getting the ball close will be the biggest challenge.  Ran mentions #4 as a reachable par 5, certainly #9 will be in that category as well with nowhere to move the tee back.  But Oakmont will be defended by the bunkering and incredible green speeds, IMHO.  


Re:Why Oakmont is better today than when Jones won
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2003, 12:55:58 PM »
Don't know about comparing the difficulty of Oakmont today to the Jones era but the course will be plenty challenging enough in both the Amateur and the Open in my opinion.

Oakmont happens to be a course whose design is a bit unusual for its very early design era in that it's not just the fact of its well known challenging greens but the drives are very challenging as well particularly if the course is firm and the ball really rolls. The reason is there's so much danger on the flanks of so many holes for tee shots in one type of hazard or another--generally really penal bunkering, ditches, rough, whatever. The recoverability from those flanking hazards can be much more penal than most any course and that combined with the really fast and challenging greens makes the course a work-out for anyone.

It doesn't really matter if some of these you guns hit 330 yd drives into 9 iron and wedge range--they won't do well unless they put them all in the short grass off the tees and that's a challenge to do hole after hole at Oakmont--particularly if it's firm. Many of the fairway bunkers at Oakmont have a way of collecting shots off the fairways that aren't placed well.

#10 is probably the ideal example. I think many players might lay back off the tee on that hole trying to steer the ball between the flanking bunkers and ditch and even if they hit driver and fly it past these bunkers they are into some very complicated fairway topography past those bunkers that can cast the ball around into places that are difficult!

Paul Richards

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Re:Why Oakmont is better today than when Jones won
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2003, 02:34:52 PM »

You are right on with this!  Oakmont is absolutely fantastic now.  I am looking forward to seeing the Amateur!!
"Something has to change, otherwise the never-ending arms race that benefits only a few manufacturers will continue to lead to longer courses, narrower fairways, smaller greens, more rough, more expensive rounds, and other mechanisms that will leave golf's future in doubt." -  TFOG

Mark Studer

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Re:Why Oakmont is better today than when Jones won
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2003, 09:39:19 PM »
John Zimmers will celebrate his 4th anniversary as sup't. this fall.....the approaches are simply pure,the putting greens NEVER better, and the weather forecast is 58 degrees the next 3 nights without any precip....Watch out....the club has been focused on august 18th for 8 weeks.....I have a feeling that in hosting this 5th US AM and 13th USGA championship, the Fownes Family would be VERY proud.  NBC will air the helicopter  overhead shots  during match play....stay tuned!
The First Tee:Golf Lessons/Life Lessons


Re:Why Oakmont is better today than when Jones won
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2003, 09:54:09 PM »
Glad to hear the weather is cooperating and I sure hope it does for the next 7 days. If it does and there's no rain all week all of you can tune into the Amateur telecasts and see what the "ideal maintenance meld" for high class golf is exactly on some very special old classic architecture!


If the Amateur does get the degree of firm and fast conditions "through the green" matched with the type of green surface firmness and greenspeed I believe you're looking for I can't wait to see what the pin rotations will be on various holes!


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