2010 Golfweek for Her: It's all equal opportunity at Oakmont
Sunday, April 17, 2011
It’s not easy to impress The Man Out Front, but color him swayed with how storied Oakmont Country Club will be set up for the U.S. Women’s Open this summer. When the championship begins July 8, you can forget about the club going soft on the ladies compared with how it greeted the men during the 2007 U.S. Open, when ultrafast Stimpmeter readings of 13 to 13.5 were standard.
Yes, the women also will encounter green speeds that are downhill driveway-slick on those undulating surfaces, and that should make for some entertaining scenes and a great championship.
Actually, when it comes to green speeds and hole locations, the lords of this certifiable National Historic Landmark near Pittsburgh are kinder to contestants at national championships than they are to their own members. Local knowledge being what it is, the members are accustomed to handling the speeds, whereas most of the world’s best players simply don’t see greens this fast anyplace else.
By The Forecaddie’s count, this will be Oakmont’s 18th national championship – following a timeline that has produced eight U.S. Opens, five U.S. Amateurs, three PGA Championships and a single Women’s Open that was staged nearly two decades ago, in 1992, which Patty Sheehan won. (The men return to Oakmont for the U.S. Open in 2016.)
Fairway widths for the Women’s Open will be what they were for the 2007 U.S. Open – 23 to 24 yards. The yardages are dialed back, with the women’s championship course playing to a par 71 at 6,598 yards; the men were at 7,230 yards and played the course as a par 70.
But here’s where the Excitement Meter spikes: There will be more flexibility built into the women’s setup, with two par 4s potentially being drivable. The par-4 17th, uphill to a well-bunkered green, will register 245 yards and be reachable for longer hitters. And in a move never before seen with the men, the par-4 second also can be shortened to drivable length, with an option to shorten the 325-yard hole to 250 yards. Not that holding that green will be easy; it’s the most-sloped putting surface at Oakmont.
Oakmont will be going to some historic lengths, too, with the par-3 eighth hole slated to play 250 yards and the par-512th checking in as the longest in women’s championship history – a burly 602 yards.
Girls, better eat yer spinach!
All in all, The Forecaddie figures it’ll be an unusually demanding week, more so than your average U.S. Women’s Open. Potentially, we have the perfect recipe for a national championship – not only demanding, but memorable, too.
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