Oakmont Country Club
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Did you know that the Pennsylvania Turnpike cuts right through Oakmont Country Club?

By Tim Bannon
Chicago Tribune

The venerable Oakmont Country Club, host to this week's U.S. Open, is considered one of the most challenging golf courses in the world.

It's also the only one with the Pennsylvania Turnpike slicing right through it.

When it opened in 1904 in western Pennsylvania, a railroad cut across the property. Years later, the turnpike was built on the railroad line, and now holes one and nine through 18 are on the west side of the highway and holes two through eight are on the east side.

"It's a unique feature in that it's there," Tom Marzlof, a senior design associate with Fazio Designs, a golf course design company, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

This is the ninth time Oakmont has hosted the U.S. Open, more than any other course in the country.

And it's not the only course with a major road running through it. Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia, where the 2013 U.S. Open was held, is split by two-lane Ardmore Avenue.

But this is no mere avenue. The 550-mile-long Pennsylvania Turnpike averages approximately 42,000 vehiles a day.

"It's really difficult to even tell there's a highway there when you're up on the golf course," Mike Houser, an engineer project manager for the Turnpike, told the Post-Gazette. "That's never been an issue, never been a discussion and never been a problem as far as we know."

The two sides are now connected by a walking bridge. In 2003, Oakmont built a new pedestrian bridge meant to ease crowd congestion.

This article was written by Tim Bannon from Chicago Tribune and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Why does the Pennsylvania Turnpike cut through the U.S. Open?
June 16, 2016 - 3:30pm
matthew.craig's picture
stanley cup, us open
Twitter / CassieStein25

Rain delays are frustrating for everyone at major championships. Players, spectators, and TV viewers are left sitting around with nothing to do but wait until the weather clears and the action resumes.

That looked to be the case Thursday when showers and thunderstorms delayed play during the first round of the U.S. Open. From what we could see, it looked like the European players were sitting around watching the Euro 2016 soccer match, while the American players were mostly looking at their phones.

That is until the Pittsburgh Penguins showed up.

 

 

And they brought a friend with them, in the form of the Stanley Cup. Players took the opportunity to take pictures with the trophy, raising their spirits while they waited out the delay.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the most entertaining parts of the visit was the Penguins trying out their talents on the putting green. Maybe all that practice on actual ice helped the Stanley Cup champs handle the lightning fast greens at Oakmont?

 

 

 

 

 

Stanley Cup visits Oakmont
June 16, 2016 - 2:40pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
YouTube
Fox News reporter Brett Baier is an avid golfer. So, when he had a chance to interview the Dalai Lama recently, he couldn't help but ask if he had ever seen the movie Caddyshack, where Bill Murray shares a story about caddying for the Dalai Lama.

Turns out the Lama isn't a big hitter after all.

Well, Gunga Galunga.

In a famous scene from the hit movie Caddyshack (OK, which scene wasn't a hit?), greenskeeper Carl Spackler -- portrayed by Bill Murray -- tells a story of the time he traveled to Tibet and caddied for the long-hitting Dalai Lama.

You can see the scene here:

Well, Fox News reporter Brett Baier -- an avid golfer himself -- sat down to interview the Dalai Lama recently and had to know: Had the Dalai Lama ever seen Caddyshack?

The exchange is almost as funny as a scene from Caddyshack:

Kudos to Baier for the hard-hitting question.

Fox News reporter asks Dalai Lama about 'Caddyshack'
June 16, 2016 - 12:44pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
tj.auclair's picture
Jordan Spieth
@BustedCoverage on Twitter
The test of a U.S. Open can be as much mental as it is physical. Jordan Spieth was not a happy camper after a seemingly outstanding shot wound up in a bunker.

All we've heard about in the lead up to this week's U.S. Open is how difficult it is to get around Oakmont.

Hearing the top players in the world moan and groan about how hard a course is might be refreshing to a lot of us, while it might even bring about an eye roll -- as in, quit yer complainin'.

That said, even the toughest of critics has to sympathize at least a touch with defending U.S. Open champ Jordan Spieth (even par) after this happened to him on the 17th hole with his second shot in Round 1 right before the day's second weather delay:

 

That shot looked so good... until it didn't.

"How is that in the bunker?" Spieth yelled to no one in particular. Fair question.

And, keep in mind -- that was on a green that's been taking a lot of water the last 24 hours.

Once players return from the delay, Spieth will be facing a tricky bunker shot instead of a tap-in birdie. Tough luck. 

Jordan Spieth was not happy about where this U.S. Open shot ended up
us open trophy
USA Today Sports Images

If you can't get excited for this week, check your pulse. It's a major championship, the national championship, the toughest test in golf, the U.S. Open! And it's being held at historic Oakmont Country Club, which is one of the most challenging courses in the world.

But in case you needed a few more reasons to be excited for this week's tournament, here's nine facts you may not know about the course, the tournament, and the competitiors:

1. There are four players in the field who played in the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont.

While golf these days has been dominated by the younger players, there are a few old dogs who are still in the hunt. This list includes the 1994 champion Ernie Els, who hasn't missed a single U.S. Open in 23 years; Phil Mickelson, who's making his 25th run at a U.S. Open and still looking for his first victory after six runner-up finishes; Jim Furyk, who also finished runner-up at the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont; and finally Jeff Maggert, whose odds to win this week are on the books at 1000-1, for those that are feeling adventurous.

RELATED: Check out players' reactions to the tough Oakmont conditions | U.S. Open leaderboard

2. There's a highway that runs through the middle of the course.

And it's a major highway at that. The Pennsylvania Turnpike divides the course almost in half, with holes one and nine through 18 on the west side of the highway and holes two through eight on the east side.

While the highway was obviously not part of Henry C. Fownes' original design in 1903, the highway's installation didn't disrupt the layout almost at all other than the moving of the eighth green about 10 yards.

The highway sits well below the surface of the golf course, and with the combination of concrete walls and dirt mounds, it's very difficult to tell a highway even exists when you're playing golf.

3. It took 34 years for Wes Short Jr. to qualify for the U.S. Open.

Wes Short Jr. first tried to qualify for the U.S. Open in 1982, at the tender age of 18. Now here he is 34 years later, after shooting 69-66 in the Columbus, Ohio qualifier. The 52-year-old is the oldest player in the field.

Short finished fifth last week at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, and has one victory on the the PGA Tour Champions.

4. There are 12 former U.S. Open champions in the field.

Can you name them all? Here's the list by year:

2015: Jordan Spieth
2014: Martin Kaymer
2013: Justin Rose
2012: Webb Simpson
2011: Rory McIlroy
2010: Graeme McDowell
2009: Lucas Glover
2007: Angel Cabrera
2006: Geoff Ogilvy
2004, 2001: Retief Goosen
2003: Jim Furyk
1997, 1994: Ernie Els

5. Oakmont's 8th hole is the longest par-3 in U.S. Open history.

Well, technically Oakmont's 8th hole has been set up as all of the top three longest par-3's in U.S. Open history, and five out of the top seven. Here is the full list:

300 yards, 8th at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, fourth round, 2007
281 yards, 8th at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, second round, 2007
279 yards, 8th at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, third round, 2007
266 yards, 3rd at Merion Golf Club (East Course), Ardmore, Pa., fourth round, 2013
261 yards, 8th at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, first round, 2007
254 yards, 17th at Merion Golf Club (East Course), Ardmore, Pa., 2013
253 yards, 8th at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club, 1927, 1935, 1953, 1962

It will be interesting to see if improved equipment and increased weight training of the golfers has an effect on the 8th hole this week. If players are able to use a 3-wood or even a long iron or 5-wood depending on the wind instead of a driver, it could make this hole much easier than the 3.452 scoring average it had in 2007, when the field only made the green in regulation 26.7% of the time.

While we're at it, Oakmont's 12th hole also holds the title of the second longest par-5 in U.S. Open history, which measured at 667 yards during the 2007 U.S. Open.

6. The state of Pennsylvania has hosted more USGA championships than any other state.

This year's U.S. Open marks the 84th such championship held in Pennsylvania, beating out second place California with 75. The 83 previous championships include 16 U.S. Opens, nine U.S. Women's Opens, three U.S. Senior Opens, 13 U.S. Amateurs, 13 U.S. Women's Amateurs, three U.S. Junior Amateurs, five U.S. Girls Junior Amateurs, three U.S. Senior Amateurs, and six U.S. Senior Women's Amateurs.

7. There is one grouping of all Fedex Cup champions

And it isn't who you'd expect. In fact, it didn't even make our six most intriguing pairings at Oakmont. But Thursday's 1:36 p.m. pairing of Billy Horschel, Brandt Snedeker, and Bill Haas contains all men who have taken home the Fedex Cup, and the $10 million check that goes with it.

All of those men would love to add a U.S. Open victory to their resume. You can check out the other tee times and pairings here.

8. Oakmont was the first golf course in the United States to be recognized as a National Historical Landmark.

Built in 1903, Oakmont is considered by many to be the toughest course in the United States. It also has hosted the most U.S. Opens and USGA championships of any course in the country.

There are only three other golf courses that have been recognized. Can you name them? They are Baltustrol Golf Club in New Jersey and site of this year's PGA Championship, Merion Golf Club in Pennsylvania, and Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.

9. Since 1991, only 5 defending champions have finished better than 15th while 8 have missed the cut.

This is a fascinating statistic, and could be interesting to consider when watching Jordan Spieth this week. The highest finisher among the group was Tiger Woods, who finished 6th in 2009 after his win at Torrey Pines in 2008. The other defending champions to finish in the top 15 were Retief Goosen, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, and Tiger Woods a second time. The most recent defending champion to miss the cut was Martin Kaymer just last year.

Jordan Spieth enters this week not only as the defending champion, but as one of the favorites to win this week at Oakmont. Can he break another record previously held by Tiger Woods and place in the top five?

U.S. Open: 9 surprising facts to consider this week at Oakmont
Brooks Koepka's golf ball
@bkoepka/Instagram
Brooks Koepka took to Instagram on Wednesday to give a special shoutout to his Dad, Bob Koepka.

It's here. 

The 116th U.S. Open, golf's second major and our national champioship, begins Thursday at the Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. With storylines abundant, the golf world is already buzzing about what could possibly happen this weekend at one of the toughest courses in U.S. Open history. 

But before the world's best tee-off, some players and media members have taken to Twitter and Instagram to give fans one final look into the course, the local happenings, and much more.

 

 

The driveable par-4, 8th at Oakmont will be a birdie opportunity for most players, including Bubba Watson. 

Wait, it's a par-3? 

Is that even allowed? 

 

 

Sorry, Byeong. It's not stopping.

 

 

If you haven't heard about Oakmont's brutal rough yet, you've really been missing out. I think some golfers should just hit five-iron off the tee to almost guarantee hitting the fairway. And when I say "some golfers," I mean every golfer. 

 

 

I went Black Friday shopping. Once. 

 

 

Hit it like you mean it..... but make sure it's on the fairway! H @usopengolf

A photo posted by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

 

Five-iron, Henrik. Trust me. 

 

 

When Mr Kuchar comes to the merchandise tent and starts stamping ball marks. What a moment! @usga @usopengolf

A photo posted by SEAMUS GOLF (@seamusgolf) on

 

Matt Kuchar. The people's golfer. 

 

 

This one's for you, dad! #fathersday #usopen @nikegolf

A photo posted by Brooks Koepka (@bkoepka) on

 

Happy Father's Day, Bob Koepka...and to all the Dad's out there, including mine. 

Wednesday's U.S. Open Social Media Roundup