Playing a round of golf is a lot like creating the perfect pot of chili. There are lots of ingredients to the perfect round that all need to blend together. Yet the most important part is that they are all perfectly proportional to one another. Every aspect of your swing needs to get to know each other in the pot. You get one little ingredient off, and, well, you can really make a mess of things. Perhaps on the floor near reception. That’s why there’s no one more perfect to narrate the potential mess than chili expert and avid golfer, Brian Baumgartner.
If a round of golf is like creating a perfect pot of chili, then a round of golf under U.S. Open conditions at Winged Foot is like using peppers and onions that chop you as opposed to you chopping them. The greens are tough. The fairways are narrow. The rough is thick. 7400 yards are waiting to eat you for lunch. Let’s just say the winning score was over par in all but one of the U.S. Opens at Winged Foot. Four out of the six men’s majors at Winged Foot are hall of famers. The invention of the mulligan occurred at this very course! Sounds like an ideal set up to break 90 right?
This begs the question: What makes Winged Foot so hard? Its difficulty isn’t inherent to its topography. Nor are there abundant water hazards. Yet, A.W. Tillinghast managed to carve out 18 challenging holes on a fairly unassuming patch of land. Perhaps you’ve heard of courses where a well-placed tee ball is of utmost importance. Or you’ve heard the latter–a “second shot” golf course. Winged Foot is both. If you had to pick one? The approach shots. Elevated greens and dubiously placed bunkers will make you regret even the slightest of misses. Even if you’re lucky enough to find a GIR, a three-putt giggles mischievously as your optimism lips out alongside your 4 footer.
What does this have to do with that iconic logo? Perhaps you wish for a pair of those winged sandals to take you as far away as possible from the mess you just made on the course. Or perhaps like Perseus, you need to don Mercury’s sandals to slay your long roughed foe lest your clubs turn to stone. Though your round may take on the aura of ancient mythology, there’s a more simple explanation behind the famous logo. The club was founded in 1921 by a group from the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan. They simply took the image from a sculpture in the lobby and repurposed it for their newly founded golf course. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
So if you find yourself drawn in by the mythic allure of this storied spot, check out EAL plod his way around this terror of a course. And for sure kick back and listen to Brian take jabs at his more unfortunate swings. And when you’re done, head over and pick up our exclusive Winged Paw merch. Because let’s be honest you need all the help you can get, even if it means harnessing the mythological.
The first of a five part series highlighting Erik’s travels in Scotland.
Erik is a writer and teacher from Fort Lauderdale, FL. When he's not trying to figure out ways to golf for free, he's usually hanging out with his wife and Rhodesian Ridgeback, Koa. You can find more of his work at punchbowlgolf.co