how tough is winged foot? Well…

The U.S. Open returns to Winged Foot next week (Sept. 14-20), the sixth time it will be held on the tough Mamaroneck, N.Y. course. It’s not considered easy by any stretch of the imagination, according to some guys who should know. The great Jack Nicklaus, asked to rate the difficulty of Winged Foot on a scale of 1-10, said “11.  Maybe 12.” Jay Haas called it “The hardest course I’ve ever played.” And Joseph C. Dey called upon his inner muse to report that Winged Foot is “A temple to the spirit of golf.”

The club has two courses, East and West, both designed by A.W. Tillinghast. It is the West course, with its challenging layout and puzzling greens, that provides the frustrating test for the world’s best golfers. And it will be played without fans, another wrinkle in a most unusual year.

Phil Mickelson famously blew a wonderful opportunity to claim his only U.S. Open win here in 2006 when he double-bogeyed 18. The gambling man went with driver on 18 when a 3-wood would have sufficed and, well, it was not a fairway-splitting drive.

One sportswriter in 1974 called that U.S. Open, won by Hale Irwin, “The Massacre at Winged Foot.” He was only 7 over par.

And the first U.S. Open at the course, in 1929, was won by the great Bobby Jones.

Click here for a course guide to Winged Foot from the WSN website. (Caveat – WSN is a sports betting site, but it does have some great information.)

The USGA’s official site is chock-full of great info on the course, and the club’s own website offers more history for golf fans.