Test your Olympic Club knowledge with this quiz

Test your Olympic Club knowledge with this quiz

Olympic Club in San Francisco.
John Biever / SI

This year’s host site is as quirky as San Francisco itself. Can you separate Olympic Club fact from fiction? Take our true or false quiz to find out.


1. There isn’t a drop of water on the so-called Lake Course.
2. The famously hilly course once used San Francisco’s famed cable cars to carry golfers up its steep slopes.
3. Looking toward the 18th green from the fairway, the greenside bunkers spell “S.F.”
4. The San Andreas Fault runs under the first and second holes.
5. Maintenance workers once cut limbs from a Cypress tree near the eighth hole and 50 balls fell out.
6. Halfway house hamburgers are shaped to fit hot dog buns.
7. James J. Corbett was an Olympic member when he was crowned Heavyweight Champion in 1892.
8. Olympic’s sporting interests go far beyond golf. The club sent 23 members to the 1924 Olympics in Paris, a contingency larger than some nations
9. Iconic hippie Timothy Leary described the club’s gnarled cypress trees as “being designed by a man who had gotten drunk on gin and tried to sober up on absinthe.”
10. In 1939, member and baseball legend Ty Cobb lost 7-and-6 in the club championship’s first flight to a 12-year-old Ken Venturi; the humiliated Hall of Famer became furious and quit the club.

EXTRA CREDIT: Mark Twain was at Olympic when he famously called golf “a good walk spoiled.”


1. True. The Lake Course is named after its proximity to Lake Merced.
2. False. though Mac O’Grady might have approved. Following a practice round before the 1987 U.S. Open, he sat down for lunch, slapped the table and said, “This is the first flat surface I’ve been near today.”
3. False. They spell “I.O.U.” Though the designer insisted it was an accident.
4. True.
5. False. It was 105 balls.
6. True.
7. True. He knocked out John L. Sullivan in a bout at the Olympic Club in Louisiana.
8. True. The same Olympics immortalized in “Chariots of Fire.” The club has fielded teams in sports as diverse as basketball, soccer, water polo, diving, handball, fencing, bowling and billiards. It has also hosted the Davis Cup in tennis.
9. False. It was golf writer O.B. Keeler
10. False. Cobb lost to 12-year-old Bob Rosburg, who would win the 1959 PGA Championship. The rest is true.

EXTRA CREDIT: Unknown but plausible—Twain belonged to Olympic. This year’s U.S. Open field would do well to heed another quote attributed to the great writer: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”