Back From Oakmont

When the U.S. Open was played at Oakmont in 2007, Tiger Woods said that a 10-handicapper wouldn’t break 100. He was being too kind. More like 120. Maybe.

This course is so hard I don’t know where to begin. Natalie Gulbis said she played it five times before Women’s Open week and never came close to breaking par. I completely understand why.

The fairways are not that wide, and if you don’t hit into the rough that looks innocent but grabs your club instead of letting it slide through, there are the bunkers. These things are big, and they are surrounded by a high mound on the side toward the hole. Chip out. Between these two, you can use up par just getting to the green.

The course is quite hilly. A level lie is rare. There are blind shots into greens. There are shots downhill into greens that slope away from you. Fairway slopes feed the ball toward the bunkers. I saw one golfer hit 7-iron off the tee of a 558-yard hole to avoid the bunkers.

Then there are the greens. The ones on which Sam Snead said he marked his ball and the coin slid off. Fast, slopy, have you ever seen someone go tink! on a 20-foot putt and have it go five feet by the hole?

If I were allowed to play here, I would take a double bogey and not be disturbed, a bogey and be very happy, a par and faint.

But let me tell you as well, this course is beautiful, and it manicured in every sense of the word. I have putted on greens shaggier than the fairway grass.

And it’s big. You can see almost the whole thing from the clubhouse. It looks like no other golf course you’ve ever seen. Pictures do not do it justice.

The men play there again in 2016. Make your travel plans.

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