So why is Oakmont considered the toughest course in America?
It’s because William Frownes—son of founder Henry Frownes—had a ruthless philosphy: “A shot poorly played should be a shot irrevocably lost.”
Legend has it that Frownes would stalk players during their rounds and observe where they hit their balls. If one hit a poor shot and got away with it, Frownes would make a note, and soon a new bunker would appear.
It’s that same attitude that led to the creation of special rakes—with tines a balls’s width apart—designed to leave furrows in the sand, not smooth it. The bunkers are raked with the furrows running perpendicular to the line of play, making it devilishly difficult to get the balls out of the trap.
And the famous church pew bunkers … if you hit into those, you have virtually no chance of advancing the ball.