In this weekly installment dedicated to the upcoming 2012 U.S. Open, which will be held virtually on World Golf Tour, we're taking a closer look at the course that will hold this year's championship: The Olympic Club.
Recognized as the oldest athletic club in the United States, the "San Francisco Olympic Club" opened its doors officially to 23 charter members on May 6, 1860 with the purpose “to strengthen and improve the body by gymnastic exercises.” By 1890, the Club fielded its first rugby, basketball, soccer, water polo and lacrosse teams, while continuing to house other sports activities, including swimming and diving, wrestling, gymnastics, handball, baseball, football, fencing, tennis, and boxing. The Club re-built the main City Clubhouse located in downtown San Francisco in 1912, after the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed the original clubhouse built in 1893. The clubhouse features a fitness center, cardio solarium, handball and squash courts, circuit training facilities, two basketball courts and two swimming pools.
In 1918, the Club took over the Lakeside Golf Club, which had just opened in 1917, but was struggling financially. The Lakeside course, located just south of San Francisco on the border of Daly City, is now home to the Club's second historic "Lakeside Clubhouse." Lakeside had one 18-hole golf course designed by Wilfrid Reid, and following additional land purchases the Club decided to expand into two courses, referred to as the Lake course and the Ocean course. To complete the trifecta, the Club added another 9-hole par 3 Cliffs course overlooking the Pacific Ocean in 1994. Today, the private athletic and social club, with its two historic clubhouses and three golf courses stretching down the peninsula, is now simply referred to as "The Olympic Club."
Home of this year's U.S. Open championship, the 18-hole par-71 Lake course has been recognized by Golf Magazine and Golf Week as a top 100 golf course in America. Featuring nearly 40,000 trees and almost entirely located within the borders of San Francisco, the Lake course has undergone improvements over the years by architect Bill Love, including new tees and new greens to lengthen the course.
The Olympic Club has hosted four U.S. Open Championships over the last century and will host its fifth championship this June. Jack Fleck defeated Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff to win the first U.S. Open held at the Club in 1955. Billy Casper defeated Arnold Palmer in a playoff to win the 1966 U.S. Open. In 1987, Scott Simpson won the U.S. Open by one stroke over Tom Watson. Lee Janzen won the most recent U.S. Open at The Olympic Club in 1998. In second round of the 1998 U.S. Open, players complained about the pin position at the 18th hole because the pin was set at the top of a ridge, resulting in many balls rolling way past the cup. The Olympic Club opted to flatten the putting green at the controversial 18th hole in 2000, but it was eventually given more slope in the recent renovation to the course.