WhereAbouts | Steel City, PA
True to the character of the Steel City, Oakmont Country Club is one of the toughest tests in championship golf. We traveled to the site of the 116th U.S. Open to meet the people who live and breathe the game and are proud to call Pittsburgh home. These are their stories.
"It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do. In this town, golf is for everyone. And everyone gets something different out of the game."
"Here in Pittsburgh, we love things that last. We love our families, we love our sports, we love building community and that's what we love about golf. Golf is all of those things combined."
- Team Titleist Member John Malecki
| CHAPTER ONE |
John The Builder
"I grew up using my hands, helping my old man and my grandfather build houses and sheds. I played pro football, and came home from a game to find our coffee table broken, so I tried to fix it. It ended up being really cool and people started asking,
'Hey, can you build this for me?'"
- John Malecki
Pittsburgh-native John Malecki played high school, college and professional football in the city where he grew up. After he hung up his shoulder pads and cleats for good, he turned a passion into a career: custom furniture design and fabrication. Like many people from Pittsburgh, Malecki takes pride in using his hands to forge inanimate materials like metal and wood into surfaces and structures that will last a lifetime. And when he needs to escape the grind, John heads to the golf course. The camaraderie John experienced in the locker room is now found in the memories made with friends and family on the fairways and greens of Pittsburgh.
"Golf is a release and an escape. I'm still able to go compete with myself and my buddies and really have a blast. I take it very seriously because it’s ingrained in me. It’s a sport."
- John Malecki
"We play The SWAT on every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and whatever Monday holiday we may have. Everybody calls in before noon, and then from noon to 1 o'clock, The SWAT committee makes up the teams. It's one best ball of that group, in the hole, no handicaps. And it's a match play against all the other teams."
- Team Titleist Member Chick Wagner
"The SWAT is the best game in the states, maybe the world, because it creates such great camaraderie amongst everybody."
- Chick Wagner
Why is this game called The SWAT? No one knows. Oakmont Country Club Founder H.C. Fownes not only designed and built a world-renowned course in 1903, he also teed it up in The SWAT. The club's membership has preserved the records of The SWAT with hard-bound ledgers that go back to the 1950s. And the game remains as competitive as its storied history.
| CHAPTER THREE |
"Chartered in 1882, Pittsburgh Field Club has historical charm to match our wonderful golf course. The original course played along the river, but was moved to its current location in Fox Chapel in 1913 to make way for industry. Shortly thereafter in 1938, the 18th hole was converted from a par-4 to a par-3 that went straight uphill, and exhausted many a player. So, we built an elevator."
- PGA Professional Dave Martin
By the numbers: From just off the 17th green, the elevator goes up seven stories high, can fit a foursome, and is a 37 second ride to the top. Once you're at the top, it's a 90 yard walk across the bridge to the 18th tee.
"If you're walking, you ride the elevator."
- Dave Martin
| CHAPTER FOUR |
Crab Cakes and Golf
"We base everything off seafood and fresh fish, so the crab cakes are very good here. I run my business solely on community and family, and I absolutely take pride in golfers coming here. You know on the weekends, whenever you come, golf will be on. Everybody gets along and it becomes a brotherhood of sorts."
- Team Titleist Member Talbot Reiber
Tablot Reiber's young family and busy restaurant sit atop his priorities. But when a serious car accident hospitalized him with injuries that put in doubt his ability to ever walk again, golf wasn’t even on his radar. Fortunately, a few surgeries and months of rehab put him back home and in his restaurant with a renewed outlook on life. It also gave him a newfound love and appreciation for the game of golf.
"Take your time to look around to see what’s going on. Golf is gorgeous. There’s one shot in every round that brings you back."
- Talbot Reiber