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Olympic Club Top 10 List

By: Mark Soltau

1. There are three halfway houses on the property (Olympic has 36 holes) and the hamburgers have been rated the best in San Francisco. The “burger dogs” (above) are molded to fit hot dog buns and are simply divine.

2. The par-five 16th hole, a double-dogleg left, has only been in reached in two by a handful of players, including Bobby Jones. The most recent to do it was Jamie Lovemark in the 2007 U.S. Amateur, when he knocked a towering 4-iron over the left trees onto the putting surface from 280 yards. His route cut off some distance on a hole that was listed at 609 yards; it has been extended to 670 for this year though the new back tee is expected to be used on only two days.

3. According to the regular caddies, all but one green on the Lake Course slopes toward Lake Merced. The exception: the par-three 15th green, which breaks toward the clubhouse.

4. As a 12-year-old junior member, Bob Rosburg beat retired baseball Hall of Famer Ty Cobb in the first flight of the club championship, 7 and 6. Cobb shook the youngster’s hand after the match, but received so much grief from fellow members for the drubbing that he resigned from the club shortly thereafter.

5. The Pacific Rod and Gun Club is located across the street on Lake Merced and the sounds of skeet shooting echo throughout the course. However, the gun club will close during the tournament.

6. The Olympic Club has five thousand members and is the oldest athletic club in the country. In the 1860s, one of its earliest members was aspiring writer Samuel L. Clemens, better known as Mark Twain.

7. Former Stanford golfer Casey Martin, who suffers from a rare circulatory ailment in his right leg that makes it painful to walk, qualified for the 1998 U.S. Open after winning a lawsuit against the PGA Tour to ride in a cart. He wound up tying for 23rd. Now 40 and the men’s golf coach at the University of Oregon, Martin is six years removed from the end of his professional career, but he is once again playing the U.S. Open at Olympic with the aid of a cart after winning the Oregon Sectional Qualifier.

8. Olympic is flanked by three stellar courses, each about a five-minute drive: Harding Park Golf Course, site of the 2009 Presidents Cup; San Francisco Golf Club, an A.W. Tillinghast gem that hosted the 1974 Curtis Cup; and Lake Merced Golf Club, site of the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship.

9. The 1958 U.S. Amateur was played at Olympic Club. Local favorite Harvie Ward defeated 18-year-old Jack Nicklaus, 1 up, in the second round, but Charles Coe won the title.

10. In 1964, three Olympic Club members captured national championships: Ken Venturi (U.S. Open); Bill Higgins (U.S. Senior Amateur); and Johnny Miller (U.S. Junior Amateur).

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