It’s always amazing to me, when traveling to some of the most renowned golf courses in the America, and you get there to only to find out that they have a brother/sister course next door that you didn’t even know existed. This happened to me at Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan, where I didn’t know a North course was across the road, and before that at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin. Maybe it was just me being naïve, or not doing my research, but it’s obviously tough for these second courses to gain any touts of recognition when they have something so spectacular sitting next to them. It’s always intriguing to see these courses, the differences from their neighboring big course, and just how playable and fun some of the some of the less notable second courses are.
A second course, at a place like Olympic Club, is a great opportunity to for the club to host tournaments, get more members and guest play, and to give members a great secondary option, instead of having to consistently play the tough Lake Course every day. According to the pro shop, and many others I have spoken to, the Ocean Course even receives more play than the Lake course on a yearly basis. There can be a lot of different reasons for that, but I mainly believe it comes down to it being a more suitable course for the everyday player, member, or guest.
After playing the Lake Course a few months prior, I was thoroughly impressed with the layout of the Ocean Course. The exact same thing happened to me at Oakland Hills as well, when comparing the famous South Course to the North Course. Maybe it’s just me, but when I think of a second course at a club like Olympic, I’m always thinking it’s going to be some short pitch and putt that is considerably easier and far less maintained than the tough, immaculate neighbor course. The funny thing is, that hasn’t turned out to be the case so far at any of the locations I have been.
The Ocean course at Olympic Club is not easy by any means. It’s a little more open off the tee than the Lake course, and a little more forgiving around the greens, but it is a great combination of elevation change, short/long demanding par 4’s, and some very rememberable par 3’s added in the mix. It’s not a bombers paradise, and definitely requires precision, and thinking your way through a hole or two from time to time. It’s everything you want and need in a golf course to make it fun, challenging, and to enjoy the game. Of course, any good golf course can beat you up if you hit it all over the place, and the Ocean Course can do that, but I was surprised at how fair I thought the layout was from top to bottom.
If I could give my recommendation to you, then I would tell you to not even bat an eye at playing the Ocean Course if you have the opportunity. I know sometimes the feeling is that it’s not worth it to go to the Olympic Club and play if you can’t play the famous Lake Course, and it makes you feel like you didn’t get your money’s worth, but you won’t regret your trip around the Ocean Course. There are still plenty of opportunities to get the full Olympic Club experience with the Burger Dog, and even adding the Par 3 Cliffs Course into the mix after or before your round. It can be quite an experience around Olympic Club, and all the reasons why it is a special stop.