Once upon a time, Olympia Fields Country Club was the largest private country club in America and it was originally founded in 1915. By 1925, the club had four golf courses with plans in the pipeline for a fifth, but the Great Depression scuppered that. WWII then forced the club into serious financial difficulties and they had to sell half their land. Three golf courses were distilled into one (now called the South course) but the gem in the Olympia Fields crown – then known as No.4 course – remained intact and it’s now a priceless jewel in America’s rich golfing heritage.
Willie Park Junior designed No.4 course and it’s now known universally as the North course. The layout was lengthened and the bunkers improved in the 1990s but the layout we play today and indeed the layout which hosted the 2003 US Open Championship, is still ostensibly a Willie Park Junior design. It’s little wonder that Olympia Fields is one of Jim Furyk’s favourite courses. Furyk won the 2003 US Open equalling the record for the lowest 72-hole score in US Open history on his way to claim his first Major title.
Apart from the North course, Olympia Fields Country Club owns the world’s largest clubhouse, which took two years to build and cost a whopping $1.3 million way back in 1925. With its eighty-foot clock tower and English Tudor design, it’s possibly the most famous clubhouse in the world and it’s a monument to the extravagant Roaring Twenties.
The thing that jumped out at me more than anything about the North at Olympia is how well-placed the bunkers are. Navigating them is the biggest trick to succeeding when playing here. If you get around them, the chances are you'll shoot a decent number. Even still, the greens can be lightning quick and the rough is plenty thick enough to challenge anyone. It's an unbelievably well-manicured course. I had to take a second walking down the 18th fairway to savor one last time just how perfect the grass is cut here. It's a tough track, but a good score is definitely doable. It's the first course I've played that's hosted a US Open, but based on what I've observed and studied over the years, it is one of the more forgiving and more likely for the average golfer to have success at.