Olympic Club

The Olympic Club is an athletic club and private social club in San Francisco, California.

Olympic Club
Club information
LocationSan Francisco & San Mateo County, California, U.S.
Established1860 (1860)
Total holes45
Events hostedU.S. Open: 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, 2012
U.S. Women's Open: 2021
Tour Championship: 1993, 1994
U.S. Amateur: 1958, 1981, 2007
U.S. Junior Amateur: 2004
U.S. Amateur Four-Ball: 2015
Lake Course
Designed bySam Whiting
Willie Watson
Par71 (70 for 2012 U.S. Open)
Length7,170 yards (6,560 m) (2012 U.S. Open)[1]
Course rating76.5
Slope rating145[2]
Ocean Course
Designed byTom Weiskopf
Length6,925 yards (6,332 m)
Course rating73.2
Slope rating131[3]
Cliffs Course
Designed byJay Morrish
Tom Weiskopf
Length1,800 yards (1,646 m)

First named the "San Francisco Olympic Club",[4] it is the oldest athletic club in the United States. Established on May 6, 1860, its first officers were President, G.W. Bell, Secretary, E. Bonnell, Treasurer, H.G. Hanks, and Leader, Arthur Nahl.[4]

Its main "City Clubhouse" is located in San Francisco's Union Square district, and its three golf courses are in the southwestern corner of the city, at the border with Daly City. The "Lakeside Clubhouse" is located just north of the Daly City border; the two clubhouses are separated by about 10 miles (16 km).

The three golf courses are named Lake, Ocean, and Cliffs. Lake and Ocean are 18-hole par-71 courses, and the Cliffs is a nine-hole par-3 course in the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. All three venues are lined with many trees and offer views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park. The United States Golf Association recognizes the Olympic Club as one of the first 100 golf clubs established in the United States.

In November 2017, it was announced that Olympic Club would host the 2033 Ryder Cup.[5]


The Olympic Club, drawing by the Nahl Brothers, 1855

First named the "San Francisco Olympic Club",[4] it is the oldest athletic club in the United States. Established on May 6, 1860, its first officers were President, G.W. Bell, Secretary, E. Bonnell, Treasurer, H.G. Hanks, and Leader, Arthur Nahl.[4]

James J. Corbett, the heavyweight boxing champion from 1892 to 1897, joined the club in 1884. He later went on to coach boxing at the club for many years. On January 2, 1893 the club opened its first permanent clubhouse on Post Street. That building did not survive the San Francisco earthquake.

Women's Athletic Club

Ruins of the club, after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906

Women who could not join the men-only Olympic Club built their own modest athletic club a few doors down, named the Women's Athletic Club of San Francisco. Begun in 1912 and completed in 1917, it provided many of the same facilities as the Olympic Club. In 1966, the Club changed its name to the Metropolitan Club of San Francisco. It may be found on Sutter St., in back of the Olympic Club's parking garage.[6]

Discrimination lawsuit

In 1987, San Francisco City Attorney Louise Renne filed suit against the Olympic Club for discrimination against women and (allegedly) against minorities. Renne contended that the Club's lease of City-owned land upon which fell one hole of the Lake Course and two holes of the Ocean Course required them to conform to the City's anti-discrimination policies.[7] Rather than face a protracted legal case with an uncertain outcome, the board voted to accept women as members in 1990.[8] The allegation involving minorities was withdrawn.

Golf club

In 1918, the club took over the Lakeside Golf Club, which had just opened in 1917 but was struggling financially. Lakeside had one 18-hole golf course designed by Wilfrid Reid, but following additional land purchases the club decided to replace it with two courses. These were designed by Willie Watson, a well-known Scottish architect, and the Lake and Ocean courses opened in 1924. The Ocean course was shortly thereafter damaged by landslides, and Sam Whiting (who had constructed the two courses, and would remain as superintendent until 1954) remodeled and rebuilt both courses in 1927. In 1953, the Lake course was modified by Robert Trent Jones in preparation for the 1955 U.S. Open. The Ocean course was altered several times over the years, and following heavy storm damage in 1996 was completely redesigned by Tom Weiskopf and reopened in 2000.[9]

The Cliffs Course opened in 1994 with Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf as the course architects.

The Olympic Club hosted the 2004 U.S. Junior Amateur (won by Sihwan Kim) and the U.S. Amateur in 1958 (won by Charles Coe) and 1981 (won by Nathaniel Crosby, son of Bing Crosby). The Lake and Ocean Courses were used for the 2007 U.S Amateur, won by Colt Knost, who earned a 2 and 1 victory over Michael Thompson.


Olympic natatorium

In 1909, Olympian and club member Ralph Rose set a world record shot put throw of 51 feet.

In 1915, the club's amateur basketball team won the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Basketball Championship. In 1934, club member Fred Apostoli won the National Amateur Middleweight boxing title. In 1937, the Olympic Club track and field team won the Track and Field National Championships. In 1941, club member Hank Luisetti helped lead the Olympic Club basketball team to win the AAU Basketball Championships again. In 1950, Olympic Club member Arthur Larsen won the U.S. Open of tennis in Forest Hills, New York. The Olympic Club water polo team won the 1959 Water Polo National Championship.

Cycling is one of the sports with the longest tradition at the Olympic Club. From 1893 to 1903, the Olympic Club Cycling Team was one of the club's premier teams. Although the sanctioned cycling team disbanded in 1903, many Olympians participated in cycling on an individual basis. The most illustrious of these was Ernest Ohrt. Ohrt capped his cycling career by being named coach of the United States Olympic Games cycling team in 1924.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, a revived Olympic Club cycling team supported several cyclists who went on to become professional road cyclists. Former Olympic Club cyclists who later turned professional include Skyler Bishop, Nick Kelez, James Hibbard, Jackson Stewart, Mike Tillman and Zach Walker.

In addition to being a springboard for aspiring professional cyclists, the modern cycling team also boasts some of the finest masters-age cyclists in the nation, including Brian McGuire, Hal Johnson, Cynthia Mommsen and Lisa Hunt.

Club member Maureen O'Toole won a silver medal in water polo at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

At least five Olympic Club members have won the Dipsea Race, which was founded by OC members: Oliver Millard in 1910 and 1913, Mason Hartwell in 1917, Norman Bright in 1970, Joe King in 1995 and 1996, and Shirley Matson in 1993.

In 1992, the Club set up the Winged "O" Foundation, which changed its name to The Olympic Club Foundation in 2002. Its purpose is to fund youth sports programs which primarily target less advantaged youth who live in the Bay Area.

Winged-O football and rugby

The Olympic Club fielded a football team that played Bay Area colleges such as Stanford, Cal, St. Mary's, and Santa Clara.[10] The team was formed in 1890.[11] That year, the Olympic Club was accused by a rival club of enticing athletes to jump to its ranks with offers of jobs. An investigation by the Amateur Athletic Union ruled that the Olympics' practice was not actually professionalism but only a "semi" form of it, thus inventing the term "semi-pro". Although the Amateur Athletic Union didn't like the idea very much, it decided that clubs could indeed offer employment without losing their amateur status or compromising the athlete.[12] From 1891 through 1934, Olympic club had a 12-30-8 record against Stanford[13] and a 6-49-5 record against Cal.[14]

In 1926, Percy Locey played football at the Olympic Club. He was a member of the Olympic's "Winged-O" football eleven that handed the University of California's "Wonder Team" their first loss in five seasons.[15] In 1928, Locey took over as the head football coach at the Olympic Club.[15] In his first year with the Olympic Club, his team posted an undefeated season, with wins over future Pac-12 schools Stanford and 1929 Rose Bowl bound California. After the success of that season, Locey was promoted to head coach of all sports at the athletic club. He was named the coach of the West team in the annual East–West Shrine Game in 1929, though his team was defeated that year, 19-7.

Olympic Club members played a major part in the first All-Star football game. E. Jack Spaulding, the founder of the Shrine East-West football classic played, coached and was football commissioner of the Olympic Club. In 1925 the first game was played in San Francisco. Spaulding served as managing director of the first two games. An award in his name is presented each year at the game. O.E. "Babe" Hollingbery played for the club and was coach in 1925. He headed the selection process for the West team and served as the first Coach of the West team which defeated the East by a score of 6-0. He later had a long distinguished career as coach of the Washington State football team and coached in 18 Shrine games.[16][17]


Olympic Club fields a rugby team that participates in the Pacific Rugby Premiership and formerly in USA D1 and in the Rugby Super League. The Pacific Rugby Premiership (PRP) is the highest level domestic rugby competition in the U.S. Several players from Olympic Club have played for the U.S. national rugby team.

In 1913, the Olympic Club's rugby union team played the touring the New Zealand All Blacks, then as now the world top team in that sport. Olympic Club members later provided the core of the U.S. national team that won gold medals in rugby at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics, the last occasion the sport was part of the Olympic program.

City Clubhouse

The Olympic Club's main entrance on Post Street

The Olympic Club's City Clubhouse is a masonry building on Post Street, two blocks west of Union Square in San Francisco, next door to the Bohemian Club and on the same block as the Marines Memorial Club. A garage (shared by the Marines Memorial Club) and separate entrance are on Sutter Street, on the north side of the block. The current clubhouse was built in 1912, after the first one was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The clubhouse contains a pub, a dining room, meeting rooms, banquet rooms, guestrooms, a fitness center, a cardio solarium, handball and squash courts, circuit training facilities, two basketball courts, two swimming pools, and a rooftop deck.

The club was the setting of the 1966 episode "The Fight San Francisco Never Forgot" of the syndicated western television series, Death Valley Days. In the story line Walter Watson (John McLiam) halts a local bully and trains James J. Corbett (James Davidson) as his promotional rival.[18]

The courses

General course information

Bent grass covers the greens. The fairways are a rye and poa annua grass combination. The roughs also have a bit of bluegrass mixed in.

Setup for the 2007 U.S. Amateur Championship:

  • The Lake Course played at 6,948 yards and par 35-35=70. The Ocean Course, which was used for the first two days of stroke play only, played at 6,786 yards and par 35-35=70.
  • The Lake Course was set for green speeds of approximately 11 feet, 6 inches on the Stimpmeter. The primary rough was grown to 4 inches, with a strip of intermediate rough cut to 1½ inches in height.
  • The Lake Course carried a USGA Course Rating of 74.8 and a USGA Slope Rating of 143. The Ocean Course carried a USGA Course Rating of 74.0 and a USGA Slope Rating of 136.

The Lake Course

18th hole at the Lake Course

The Lake Course has been recognized by Golf Magazine in its list of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S. It has also been recognized in Golf Week's category of "America's 100 Best Classical Courses." In Golf Digest's list of the U.S. 100 Greatest Courses for 2021-2022, the Lake Course was ranked 34. It is almost entirely within the borders of San Francisco.

The yardage of the Lake Course is 7,060 yards from the new championship tees, with a course rating of 75.7 and a slope rating of 143. From the next set of tees forward, the course measures 6,529 yards, and has a course rating of 72.3 and a slope rating of 132. From the next set of tees forward, the course measures 6,235 yards, and has a course rating of 70.9 and a slope rating of 129. From the front tees, the course measures 5,593 yards, and has a course rating of 68.6 and a slope rating of 122.

The Lake Course was lengthened to prepare for the 2007 U.S. Amateur and 2012 U.S. Open by architect Bill Love. Included in the improvements by Bill Love were new tees that have added significant length to the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 9th, 12th, 13th and 16th holes. In addition, drastic changes were made to the par-4 seventh and par-3 eighth holes as part of the greens replacement project. A new two-tiered green at the seventh replaces the old three-level green constructed in the 1970s. This green is located approximately 20 yards behind the old one. The most dramatic alterations were made at the par-3 8th. Previously just a short uphill pitch, a completely new hole has been built with a teeing area well back and to the right of the original, changing the angle of approach and pushing the length of the hole back to 200 yards. A new green has also been built at the par-3 15th. The controversial 18th green has also been changed further to reintroduce, in a more playable manner, the slope that was previously removed while at the same time creating more diversity in pin placements for the finishing hole. The new 7th and 8th holes opened for play in May 2009.


Tee Rating/Slope 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Total
2012 U.S. Open 75.7 / 143 5204282474384984892882004493557 42443045119941915467052234436137170
Par 44344443434 4443435543670
Black 75.0 / 142 533418229430457439294181439342042243041519541715760952234735146934
Blue 73.2 / 134 5153802124174344262841694243261 39541439918040214257949133433366597
White 71.7 / 130 5003671983964204152631543823095 38538437517238813356246432231856280
SI Men's 1351131717159 10481661821412
Par Men's 54344443435 4443435543671
Par Women's 54345543538 4543535543876
SI Women's 1197513115173 10281641861412
Green 68.6 / 123 4552861852963283802411153502636 37136935915636612245744331029535589

The Ocean Course

The Ocean Course has seen many changes over its history including a recent complete redesign and reconstruction in 2012 by architects Bill Love and Brian Kington. The Ocean Course's storied past includes winter El Niño storms in 1983, and 1997 that caused significant damage and required major changes to the course and layout. During the mid-1990s, the club built 4 holes west of Skyline Blvd. along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Holes of par 4, par 3, par 5, and par 4 had dramatic views, but these holes were severely eroded and fell victim to the 1997 storm. Prior to the recent 2012 renovation project the course had been rebuilt in 1999.

The regular yardage for the Ocean Course is 6,925 yards from the Black Championship tees with a course rating of 73.6 and a slope rating of 136. From the Blue tees, the course measures 6,496 yards and has a course rating of 71.1 and a slope rating of 129. From White tees, the course measures 5,898 yards with a course rating of 68.8 and a slope rating of 121. From the Green tees, the course measures 5,386 yards with a course rating of 66.5 and a slope rating of 115.

In preparation for the 2007 U.S. Amateur, the 14th hole was changed, to allow the 15th hole and driving range to be lengthened. The Ocean Course recently hosted the U.S.G.A. Amateur Four-ball Championships in May 2015.


Tee Rating/Slope 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Out 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 In Total
Black 73.6 / 136 555196420565172337446423391350518454639536539647543820741434206925
Blue 71.1 / 129 5351763825441613064313963773308 16750437635438042240618739231886496
White 68.8 / 121 4981513614791592993863703543057 14445435331833338935217032828415898
SI Men's 7155917131311 14461682101812
Par Men's 53453444436 3544444343571
Par Women's 53453444436 3544444343571
SI Women's 3175111513719 18461610281412
Green 66.5 / 113 4791343264371422753593593392850 12043331329224935534311331825365386

The Cliffs Course

The 9-hole, par 3 Cliffs Course is the windiest because it is set on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean. Though it is short, it is very challenging. Designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf, it is the most scenic of all three courses. It measures 1,800 yards.

The Tour Championship

The Olympic Club has hosted the PGA Tour's season-ending event, The Tour Championship, twice, in 1993 and 1994.

YearWinnerScore Margin of
Runner(s)-upPurse ($)Winner's
Share ($)
1994 Mark McCumber274 (−10) Playoff Fuzzy Zoeller 3,000,000540,000
1993 Jim Gallagher Jr.277 (−7) 1 stroke David Frost
John Huston
Greg Norman
Scott Simpson

U.S. Opens

The Olympic Club has hosted five U.S. Opens, in 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998 and 2012.

The 54-hole leader has failed to win every time the Open has been played at The Olympic Club.

Jack Fleck won in 1955, defeating Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff after the two were tied at the end of 72 holes on 287. Billy Casper defeated Arnold Palmer in a playoff to win in 1966 and in 1987 Scott Simpson won by one shot from Tom Watson.

Lee Janzen won at Olympic in 1998 with a score of 280 (even par, as the course played a par 70 for the U.S. Open). Players complained about the pin position at the 18th hole in the second round. The pin was set at the top of a ridge, and, many balls rolled on way past the cup. Kirk Triplett incurred a two-stroke penalty when he used his putter to stop the ball from rolling. Payne Stewart, the runner-up to Janzen, complained as he three-putted the hole. The green was flattened around 2000 as a result, but was given more slope in the recent renovation to the course.

The 2012 U.S. Open was won by Webb Simpson when he made 4 birdies in the last 13 holes. This U.S. Open was part of three sports championships involving San Francisco that year, along with the Giants' World Series victory and the 49ers' sixth Super Bowl appearance.

YearWinnerScoreMargin of
Runner(s)-upPurse ($)Winner's
share ($)
2012 Webb Simpson 281 (+1) 1 stroke Graeme McDowell
Michael Thompson
1998 Lee Janzen 280 (E) 1 stroke Payne Stewart 3,000,000535,000
1987 Scott Simpson 277 (−3) 1 stroke Tom Watson 825,000150,000
1966 Billy Casper 278 (−2) Playoff Arnold Palmer 147,49026,500
1955 Jack Fleck 287 (+7) Playoff Ben Hogan 6,000

U.S. Women's Open

The Olympic Club has hosted one U.S. Women's Open, in 2021.

YearWinnerScoreMargin of
Runner-upPurse ($)Winner's
share ($)
2021 Yuka Saso 280 (−4) Playoff Nasa Hataoka 5,500,0001,000,000

U.S. Amateurs

The Olympic Club has hosted three U.S. Amateurs, in 1958, 1981, and 2007.

2007 Colt Knost 2 & 1 Michael Thompson
1981 Nathaniel Crosby 37 holes Brian Lindley
1958 Charles Coe 5 & 4 Tommy Aaron

U.S. Women's Amateur

The USGA announced that The Olympic Club will host the 2030 U.S. Women's Amateur.[19]

U.S. Junior Amateur

The Olympic Club has hosted one U.S. Junior Amateur, in 2004.

2004 Sihwan Kim 1 up David Chung

Ryder Cup

In November 2017, it was announced by the PGA of America that The Olympic Club's Lake Course will be the host of the 2028 PGA Championship also the 2033 Ryder Cup. It will be the first Ryder Cup held on the west coast since the 1959 contest in Indian Wells, California and the first for SF Bay Area.[20]

See also

  • List of American gentlemen's clubs
  • Olympic Club Foundation


  1. "U.S. Open course 2012". USGA. Archived from the original on June 21, 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  2. "Course Rating and Slope Database: Olympic Club - Lakeside". USGA. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  3. "Course Rating and Slope Database: Olympic Club - Ocean". USGA. Retrieved June 2, 2012.
  4. Janssen, Frederick William (1888). A history of American amateur athletics and aquatics: with the records (Digitized March 9, 2010 ed.). Outing Company. pp. 131–2.
  5. Inglis, Martin (November 3, 2017). "Report: 2032 Ryder Cup host venue decided". bunkered.
  6. "About Us". Metropolitanclubsf.org. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  7. "Olympic Club Faces Suit". Los Angeles Times. September 4, 1988. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  8. "Olympic Club to Open Its Doors". Los Angeles Times. May 10, 1987. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  9. "History of Olympic Club Golf". Archived from the original on November 13, 2004. Retrieved March 29, 2007.
  10. Olympic Club at a glance, 2004
  11. PFRA Research (1987). "When Did they Start?" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 9: 1–5. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 27, 2010.
  12. PFRA Research. "Five Hundred Reasons" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association: 1–6. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 29, 2010.
  13. Stanford Football Media guide (PDF copy available at www.gostanford.com)
  14. California Golden Bears Football Media guide (PDF copy available at www.gobears.com)
  15. "Carry Me Back". Archived from the original on June 8, 2007. Retrieved December 19, 2007.
  16. Shrinegame.com. 2020. History | East-West Shrine Bowl. [online] Available at: <https://www.shrinegame.com/history1> [Accessed 2 November 2020].
  17. Shrinegame.com. 2020. MVP Awards | East-West Shrine Bowl. [online] Available at: <https://www.shrinegame.com/mvp-awards> [Accessed 2 November 2020].
  18. "The Fight San Francisco Never Forgot of Death Valley Days' ". Internet Movie Database. March 17, 1966. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  19. Pine, Julia. "The Olympic Club to Host 2030 U.S. Women's Amateur". United States Golf Association. Retrieved September 5, 2022.
  20. "PGA of America to host 2028 PGA Championship, 2032 Ryder Cup at The Olympic Club". Ryder Cup. November 8, 2017.

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