Thanks to The Big K for this Gerry Dulac story on the distance explosion claiming another victim, albeit one tree, but it is fascinating how these things work.
The fallen tree was the lone sycamore that stood in a cluster of six trees -- known as the Oak Grove -- behind the 18th green and 10th tee. Oakmont president Bill Griffin said the tree was removed to allow for more grandstand space behind the final hole."It was going to be very difficult to build [a grandstand] around that tree to get the seating arrangements around the 18th green," Griffin said. "With that tree in place, we were limited to 2,100 spectators [in the grandstand]."
In the 1994 U.S. Open, Oakmont was able to seat 4,100 people in the grandstands around the 18th hole. But, because of the new back tees at Nos. 10 and 12, a grandstand could not be built on the left side of the 18th green this year.
At a special board of governors meeting May 14, Oakmont officials were not only concerned about fewer seats, but also the perception from television viewers that the tournament had outgrown the historic venue. By removing the tree, an additional 1,000 spectators can be seated around the green.
"We felt it was the right thing to do and we wanted to make sure it had the right look," Griffin said.