U.S. Open 2012: A Guide to the Olympic Club

Yahoo Contributor Network

Tradition abounds at the Olympic Club, the home of the 2012 US Open. Only a few other courses are as rich with history as the club's signature Lake Course. It has been the site of incredible late-round rallies and dramatic victories during previous occasions when it hosted the U.S. Open. There is no reason to believe golf fans will not see more of the same in 2012.

These 10 facts about the Lake Course at Olympic Club will offer a better idea of awaits the field of PGA golfers headed to San Francisco:

1. First 100 Club

The Olympic Club holds distinction as the first athletic club organized in the United States. It was founded on May 6, 1860, in San Francisco. Additionally, the United States Golf Association (USGA) recognizes it as one of the first 100 golf clubs organized nationally. The Olympic Club added golf to its offerings when it acquired the struggling Lakeside Golf Club in 1918.

2. One Becomes Two

The original main course at Lakeside Golf Club was replaced by two separate courses in 1924. One was the Lake Course; the other was the Ocean Course. Both courses have undergone redesigns throughout the years after suffering weather-related damage.

3. USGA Rating

The Lake Course has a USGA Course Rating of 75.7 and a USGA Slope Rating of 143 from its new championship tees. The course yardage from those tees is 7,060 yards. It offers some challenges with narrow tree-lined fairways and small greens surrounded by many bunkers.

4. Changing Greens

Some key redesigns have been made to the Lake Course ahead of the 2012 US Open. One change is the reintroduction of a slope to the 18th hole after its removal several years earlier. Other alterations have been made to greens on the 7th, 8th and 15th holes. The change on the 8th is most significant. A new teeing area has changed the angle of approach and moved back the hole to 200 yards.

5. Five-time Hosts

The Olympic Club has hosted the US Open five times in its history. Besides 2012, the tournament was staged on the Lake Course in 1955, 1966, 1987 and 1998.

6. Playoff Central

Playoffs are a common occurrence at the Olympic Club. The first two times the U.S. Open was played at that venue -- the winner was decided through a playoff. Jack Fleck bested Ben Hogan in 1955 and Billy Casper rallied from seven strokes back to tie Arnold Palmer and then beat him in 1966.

7. Amateur Hour

Besides hosting the U.S. Open, the Olympic Club has also been a frequent host of the U.S. Amateur Championship. It has been the site of the nation's top amateur tournament three times: 1958, 1981 and 2007.

8. Final Day Blues

No golfer has been able to hold a third-round lead in the U.S. Open through the final day at the Olympic Club. Hogan lost a two-stroke lead in when Fleck made a pair of birdies on the 15th and 18th holes to force a playoff. Palmer, as noted earlier, blew a seven-stroke lead over the final nine holes to fall to Casper in a playoff. Tom Watson took a one-shot lead over Scott Simpson into the final round of the 1987 U.S. Open and held onto it through nine holes, but fell by a stroke to Simpson at the end of the day. Payne Stewart was the leader through the first three rounds at the 1998 U.S. Open, but lost a four-stroke lead to eventual winner Lee Janzen in the final round.

9. A Cycling Haven

Cycling was the signature sport at the Olympic Club before golf took root. From 1893 to 1903, the club sponsored a cycling team that was one of the best in the nation. It was disbanded in 1903 before being revived in the mid-1990s.

10. Historic Architecture

Golfers at the 2012 U.S. Open will get to enjoy two historic clubhouses. The Lakeside Clubhouse was designed by architect Arthur Brown and built in 1925. The City Clubhouse was originally built in 1912 and underwent a restoration in 2006.

John Coon enjoys getting in a round from time to time in the Salt Lake City area when he is not covering golf as a freelance sports reporter.

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