NCGA Golf

Spring 2017

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34 SPRING 2017 | WWW.NCGA.ORG The Olympic Club, which is the home course of NCGA Board member Susan Morse (Morse was the club's first female president) and record six-time NCGA Player of the Year Randy Haag, was established by Arthur and Charles Christian Nahl in 1860 to offer more than simply an outlet for physical fitness. One entry from the club bylaws states the mission "to promote physical culture, so- cial intercourse and the fostering of amateur ath- letics in a spirit of close harmony among the membership." This evolved into the club now sponsoring 21 sports and teams, from swimming and lacrosse to rugby and basketball. Olympic Club members won seven medals at last year's Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, according to Dillon. Golf remains the anchor, at least in public per- ception. The club took over operation of the golf course in 1918 – actually two 18-hole layouts (Lake and Ocean), plus a picturesque nine-hole track – so a 100-year celebration is in the works for next year. The Lake Course is especially and distinctively challenging, essentially carved into the side of a hill. There are no water hazards and only one true fairway bunker (on No. 6), and yet the uneven lies and ball-swatting cypress trees make the course ex- traordinarily difficult even for the most skilled players. Few courses feature fairways persistently sloping the opposite way of the dogleg. This makes accuracy off the tee elusive – but nonetheless vital in the California Amateur, even if the rough will not be as nasty as it was for those five U.S. Opens. Another weapon in the Lake Course's arsenal: its small greens. The 18 putting surfaces cover only 74,000 square feet, a modest total in this era of long tracks and supersized targets. "It's so unique – I think that's why it works for major championships," said Olympic Club general manager Pat Finlen, formerly the course superin- tendent. "And for amateur events, what amateur wouldn't want to play a tournament on a course that's hosted the U.S. Open and PGA Tour? It's walking the fairways all the greats have walked." Among the promising players who could stroll Olympic's fairways and snag this year's state amateur Olympic Club members founded the Dipsea, a now legendary cross country race, more than a century ago. Above, Oliver Millard wins the 1910 event. Opposite page: The grandeur and history of Olympic Club, which dates back to 1860, can also be found at the City Club in Union Square.

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