Spring 2017

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32 SPRING 2017 | WWW.NCGA.ORG So as Simpson walked those fairways and read those greens during the 2012 Open, the past lingered in San Francisco's familiar, foggy air. Jack Fleck-Ben Hogan. Billy Casper-Arnold Palmer. Scott Simp- son-Tom Watson. Lee Janzen-Payne Stewart. History lurks at nearly every turn on Olympic's Lake Course. "I felt it," Webb Simpson said in February, when he returned to Northern California for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro- Am. "I love golf history, so I kind of knew what was going on. I had always heard about Olympic, and then I got a chance to play there in the U.S. Amateur in 2007. "That was my first taste of Olympic. I love everything about it." The Olympic Club's rich history usu- ally begins with the five U.S. Opens it has hosted, and rightly so. But the history stretches deeper. Olympic, the oldest ath- letic club in the United States, owns a long association with amateur sports, as evi- dent in its upcoming role as host of the 106th California Amateur Champi- onship (June 19-24). Fittingly, this is one of the nation's oldest state amateur golf events, dating to 1912. The California Amateur always has had cachet because its home was Pebble Beach virtually every year from Pebble's opening in 1919 through 2006. Then came a rotation of six strong courses, with Lake Merced Golf Club, Monterey Penin- sula Country Club's Shore Course and Olympic's Lake Course as the Northern California venues. Not surprisingly, the list of California Amateur champions flows with marquee names, starting with Hall of Famers Ken Venturi and Johnny Miller. Other notable winners include Mark O'Meara, Bobby Clampett and John Cook. More recently, Casey Boyns, Jason Gore, Charlie Wi and Spencer Levin prevailed. Also worth noting are the accom- plished players who did not win the state amateur, most prominently Tiger Woods (he lost to Ed Cuff in the 1994 semifinals). Phil Mickelson, Craig Stadler and Corey Pavin also didn't win; runners-up in recent years were Bryson DeChambeau in 2013 and Beau Hossler in 2014. All of this serves as context for this year's California Amateur, when a course dripping in golf history hosts an event with similar tradition. "We're known for the U.S. Opens and professional golf, but amateur golf is prob- ably more important to us than it is to most Open sites," Olympic Club president Dan Dillon said. "It's in our DNA as a club. "By the same token, we have a history that lends itself to the state amateur, because it's California and it's amateur sports. That's what we're all about. It's who we are as a club." "WE'RE KNOWN FOR THE U.S. OPENS AND PROFESSIONAL GOLF, BUT AMATEUR GOLF IS PROBABLY MORE IMPORTANT TO US THAN IT IS TO MOST OPEN SITES." L ong before he cradled the sparkling silver U.S. Open trophy five years ago, Webb Simpson heard all about the Olympic Club. Its tilted fairways and tiny greens. Its curious tradition of crowning The Other Guy as champion. USE OF PHOTOGRAPH WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE OLYMPIC CLUB

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