The BWD Major Tournament Hole of the Day: June 19, 2016. The 17th at Oakmont CC, Home of the U.S. Open Championship

Tournament: U.S. Open Championship – Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, PA
Hole: 17th – Par 4, 313 Yards
Architect(s): Henry Fownes – 1903

Architectural Summary:

The penultimate hole at Oakmont is the shortest par 4 on the course at 313 yards, but it has the potential to be the site of incredible tournament drama. The uphill risk-reward hole is drivable for many players, but trouble awaits any player finding their tee shot out of position. Perhaps one of the more option laden holes on the course, players must carefully consider their club selections from the tee. The conservative approach is to hit iron to set up a short wedge to the green, but players will need to avoid the 6 fairways bunkers to the left, guarding the best angle into the green. Those playing more aggressively will hit driver or 3-wood to try to reach the green, but precision is paramount, as the green is guarded by severe bunkering and deep rough. The “Big Mouth” bunker protects the front-right portion of the green can come into play for those playing both aggressively and conservatively, as it will punish anyone short of the green. Perched up on a hill, the narrow green will be difficult for competitors to hold even with a wedge. Should players miss the green, a variety of difficult recovery shots may be faced due to the slopes around the green, the five greenside bunkers, and substantial rough.

Statistical Analysis:

During the 2007 U.S. Open Championship, the 17th hole played to a scoring average of 4.07. The hole was the 3rd easiest hole for competitors where 64.1% found the green in regulation.

Fun Facts:

  • Angel Cabrera became the first golfer from Argentina to win the U.S. Open, posting a 1-under-par 69 in the final round at Oakmont. Despite bogeys on 16 and 17, Cabrera completed a one-stroke victory over Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods.
  • Oakmont was the site of “the greatest round of the 20th century” – Johnny Miller’s final round 63 at the 1973 U.S. Open. Miller made 9 birdies and a single bogey on the 8th hole. Miller two-putted on the 17th after hitting a 1-iron then wedge to only 10 feet and lipped out at the 18th.
  • The 17th hole has been a deciding hole in past U.S. Opens. In 1935, Jimmy Thompson was tied with the eventual champion Sam Parks going into the 17th hole. Thompson played aggressively and drove the green, but then four-putted. Parks won the championship by two shots.