A Closer Look at Olympia Fields

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 28, 2003, 4:00 pm
Written by
Brian Morrison
Director of Golf
Olympia Fields C.C.

In June of 2003 the eyes of the golfing world will be treated to a step back in time. The North Course, at Olympia Fields C.C. located in the leafy, south suburbs of Chicago will play host to the 103rd United States Open Championship for the second time in its great history.
Willie Park, Jr., a two time British Open champion, was commissioned to build a championship course to complement the other three sporty courses that were already in play at Olympia Fields. A unique undertaking, Olympia Fields featured four 18-hole golf courses, swimming, polo, skeet shooting, horseback riding, bowling, tobogganing, ice-skating, and a host of indoor activities in its 200,000 square foot, Tudor style clubhouse: all in 1922!
1000 members strong, club president Amos Alonzo Stagg and his Board of Governors wanted to establish a tradition of championship golf at its highest level. Thus, the hiring of Willie Park, Jr., a golfing renaissance man from Scotland. He could play, teach, author books, and design golf courses. Known as the preeminent putter of his time, Parks course always featured devilish greens that featured severely sloping putting surfaces with an assortment of humps, bumps, and knolls.
Opening in 1921, the North Course played host to the 1925 PGA Championship, won by Walter Hagen. In 1928, the U.S. Open was played and ended in a tie, at 10 over par, between Bobby Jones and Johnny Farrell. Johnny edged the mighty Jones 143 to 144 in a 36-hole playoff that was played out with the roaring 20s of Chicago as the backdrop. Over the years, Olympia Fields has hosted five Western Opens, another P.G.A. in 1961, and the U.S. Senior Open in 1997, won by Graham Marsh at even par 280.
In 1998 the club retained the services of architect Mark Mungeam to renovate the course to prepare for the 2003 U.S. Open. Known for his expertise in old, parkland style courses, Mungeam did a masterful job of reshaping and digging out the bunkers, adding to or rebuilding 12 tees, and carefully pruning the aging oaks to provide the proper sightlines for the modern player. The routing of the course along with its wonderful vistas were not compromised. While all of the holes at Olympia Fields provide unique an individual challenges several holes do not stand out.
The fifth hole, a 44-yard par four, requires a shot from an elevated tee to a narrow, undulating fairway that is guarded on the left by trees and on the right by a creek that meanders down the fairway and then cuts back across 125 yards from the green. The second shot is over the creek and a tall burm to a well bunkered, severely sloping green. Balls that spin off of the front of this green will roll back down the steep face of the fairway leaving the player with a very difficult pitch back up to the green. At U.S. Open speeds, this green will be terrifying.
Olympia Fields - 17th holeThe twelfth hole is a 461-yard par four that starts off with a blind tee shot over a hill to fairway that is 30 feet below the level of the teeing ground. The second shot is to a small, elevated green guarded by bunkers and trees. If the player misses the green it is a tough up and down. This hole was the most difficult relative to par in the 1997 U.S. Senior Open.
The hole that may play the most demanding relative to par this year is number 17. A 245-yard, uphill par 3 this hole is nothing but trouble. It is fronted by large, deep, menacing bunkers that protect a severely sloping green bereft with ridges, shelves and undulations. The USGA added a collection area to the back right of the green to give the players a fighting chance to get up and down for par. Willie was in a bad mood when he designed this one.
Overall, the course tests every area of the players game. Some holes call for distance, some for accuracy as the course winds its way through numerous elevation changes with the ever present Butterfield creek weaving its way through the huge stands of specimen trees. The greens will determine that the 2003 champion has a deft touch to go along with an accurate long game. A one dimensional player at this U.S. Open is going to have the weekend off.
Related Links:
  • U.S. Open Mini Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • Olympia Fields Course Tour
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.