When the Lakeside Golf Club ran into financial difficulties just after the end of the Great War in 1918 the Olympic Club stepped in to take over the club’s affairs and quickly acquired additional land to fashion two new 18-hole golf courses. The Pacific Links, as the Ocean course was originally called, debuted in May 1924.
Just months after this Willie Watson design was first unveiled, winter storm damage resulted in the renamed Ocean course being remodelled, with some of the Lake course holes incorporated into the new layout, and it reopened for play in 1927, thanks in no small part to the efforts of superintendent Sam Whiting.
The Ocean course has been altered a number of times down the years, including a comprehensive reconstruction by Tom Weiskopf at the start of the new millennium and a renovation by Bill Love in 2012, after the US Open was held on the Lake course.
Highlight holes include the downhill, left doglegged 446-yard 7th, rated the toughest par four on the layout, and the slightly uphill 470-yard 15th, which features a large Cypress tree in the middle of the fairway. Short par fours at the 6th and 13th are also highly regarded holes on the Ocean course.
A number of state, regional and national championships have been held on the Ocean course, including the 2004 US Junior Amateur, the 2007 US Amateur, and the 2015 inaugural US Amateur Four-Ball, which replaced the US Amateur Public Links on the USGA’s annual roster of national championships.
As a mid-handicapper who doesn't hit high iron shots, the Ocean course is much more enjoyable than its fabled sibling, the Lake. The previous reviewer is quite right that the Ocean course became considerably less aesthetically dramatic when it lost its holes west of Highway 35 in the late 1990s due to erosion. But, aside from the weak par-3 5th (a simple pitch down a steep hill), this course retains excellent shot values and is a real test of skill. The 18th is actually a longish par-4 with out-of-bounds on the left and trees blocking anything on the right. There is a cavernous dip in the fairway in front of the green. Toughest hole on the course, and a great finish for tournament play.