Winged Foot Golf Club - Course Guide
The hardest course I’ve ever played.
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Located in Mamaroneck, New York, Winged Foot Golf Club is steeped in history and has been a regular choice for the very biggest events since it was founded shortly after the first World War.
Opened in 1923 by a consortium of members from the New York Athletic Club, it also has a storied list of head professionals. They include double major winner Craig Wood and 1948 Masters champion Claude Harmon – the father of Butch, who helped guide Tiger Woods to eight major titles.
Notable Winged Foot members include Tommy Armour, who won the 1927 U.S. Open, 1930 PGA Championship, and 1931 Open Championship.
The two courses – East and West – at Winged Foot were both designed by the legendary A.W. Tillinghast and the latter has a reputation for being one of the toughest layouts in world golf.
Most famously, it staged the “Massacre of Winged Foot” in 1974 when the U.S. Open held there was won with a total of 7-over-par by Hale Irwin.
The West Course is characterized by its many doglegs, requiring players to work the ball both ways to keep their drives in the fairways.
In particular, the West’s greens are an incredibly tough puzzle to solve, testing even the best players with their subtle breaks, humps, ridges and false fronts.
Deep bunkers that guard the greens add to the severe examination.
Winged Foot Fast Facts
Winged Foot course designer: A.W. Tillinghast
Yardage: 6,808 yards
Yardage: 7,426 yards
Winged Foot (West) course record: 61 (Claude Harmon, non-competitive round), 66 (Fuzzy Zoeller, 1984 U.S. Open)
Past Championships at Winged Foot
The 2020 US Open will also take place at Winged Foot. Here are the other great championships played on the West Course…
2006 U.S. Open – One of the classic majors of the 21st century with Aussie Geoff Ogilvy taking victory in brutal scoring conditions, his 5-over total edging out Colin Montgomerie, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk by a single shot. Montgomerie and Mickelson both double-bogeyed the final hole when they had a golden chance to win the event for the first time.
2004 U.S. Amateur – Ryan Moore beat Luke List 2up in the final of an event played on both the East and West courses.
1997 PGA Championship – Arguably one of the best players at the time not to have won a major, Davis Love III ended the wait as he romped to a five-shot victory with 11-under. In a fairytale ending, a rainbow appeared in the sky as Love holed his final putt. While the winning score suggested scoring was relatively easy for Winged Foot, only four players broke par that week.
1984 U.S. Open – Fuzzy Zoeller, the last man to win The Masters on debut (1979), added a second major title after sinking Greg Norman in a play-off. Both had shot 4-under and were the only players to break par.
1974 U.S. Open – Hale Irwin emerged as the winner with an incredible score of 7-over. The “Massacre of Winged Foot” tag was given to it by leading sportswriter Dick Schaap.
1959 U.S. Open – Billy Casper captured the first of his three majors (he’d go on to add the 1966 U.S. Open and 1970 Masters) with 2-over, beating Bob Rosburg by a single stroke.
1940 U.S. Amateur – Dick Chapman romped to an 11 & 9 victory over W.B. McCullough Jr. Chapman also won the British Amateur 11 years later.
1929 U.S. Open – The first of the five U.S. Opens to be held at Winged Foot was won by the legendary Bobby Jones. He thrashed Al Espinosa by a massive 23 shots in the play-off after both had finished at 6-over. The following year, Jones would complete the Grand Slam.
Majors on the East Course
1980 U.S. Senior Open – won by Robert De Vicenzo with 1-over
1972 U.S. Women’s Open – won by Susie Berning with 11-over
1957 U.S. Women’s Open – won by Betsy Rawls with 7-over
Hole 1 (Genesis)
Par 4, 451 yards: No easy start here. The tough par 4 doglegs from right to left, with the key shot the approach to a severe green which slopes from back to front. Jack Nicklaus four-putted it in the opening round in 1974.
Hole 3 (Pinnacle)
Par 3, 243 yards: This long par 3 adds to the tough start. Billy Casper took a different and unusual approach in 1959, laying up short of the green each day and then getting up and down for par every time.
Hole 16 (Hells-Bells)
Par 4, 490 yards: Part of Winged Foot West’s ultra-testing closing stretch. A tee-shot to the right of the fairway gives the best chance of finding the rising green with a lengthy approach.
Hole 18 (Revelations)
Par 4, 460 yards: The scene of so much drama down the years, including the collapses of Mickelson and Montgomerie in 2006. Miss the green on this lengthy par four and players are staring bogey in the face.
What They Say
Tom Watson (recalling 1974 U.S. Open at Winged Foot):
“After the second round I was eating lunch and through the window, we were watching them bring in the standards, 29 over par, 34 over par. I had never seen scores that high.”
Jack Nicklaus (asked to rate the difficulty of Winged Foot on a scale of 1-10).
“11. Maybe 12.”
“It’s a great venue here at Winged Foot. The membership, the golf course, everything is spectacular.”
“You have a lot of really long, difficult par 4s, and you just really have to be patient out there and hit quality golf shots and play one shot at a time and just add them up at the end. That’s all you can do.”
“The hardest course I’ve ever played.”
Joseph C. Dey:
“A temple to the spirit of golf.”