The Olympic Club was founded in 1860 and it is the oldest athletics club in America. After the Great War, the sporting Olympic Club decided to get into golf and purchased the Lakeside course from the financially struggling Lakeside Country Club.
The course had been built on the landward side of a barren strip of hillside, which separates the Pacific Ocean from Lake Merced, the largest freshwater lake in the San Francisco area (hence the name of the course). Set on the seaward side of the hill is the Ocean course, which also belongs to the Olympic Club.
Trees are the predominant feature of the Lake course (in distinct contrast to the Ocean course) but they were planted after the acquisition to add definition to the desolate sloping topography. Despite its name, there is not a single water hazard on the Lake course – and there’s only a single fairway bunker on the entire course. You can’t lose a ball unless you get it stuck in a tree and, according to Olympic legend, three branches were once lopped from a tree and 150 balls fell out. You have been warned!
Host to five US Opens, the Lake course is a serious challenge. Take your stabilisers and expect few level lies on these sloping fairways. Don’t expect too much respite once you reach the sanctuary of the small greens either, because most of the putting surfaces seem to present you with permanent downhill putts. What’s more, the greens are lightning fast and if you miss with you approach shot you’ll be in the vicious rough.
It’s not that easy to get a game here, so we recommend that you befriend and member at your earliest opportunity. The Lake course, which is no longer visibly beside the lake, is a daunting experience.
In November 2017 the PGA of America announced that the Olympic Club will host the 2028 PGA Championship and the 2032 Ryder Cup. It will be the first time the Lake course has hosted either event.
One of the finest courses I've had the pleasure to play. Challenging yet fair and exceptionally scenic if you happen to get a sunny day (rare unless you happen to be playing in the Fall).