Secret Squirrel. Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Skrat, from the Ice Age film series. These three animated rodents may have entertained generations of cartoon lovers, but only one squirrel has more staying power – and means more business.
The Oakmont Country Club squirrel was introduced to the golf world in 1962, largely because the trees that once filled the property provided a perfect sanctuary for the nut-hoarding rodents. Now, as the 116th U.S. Open gets underway, the squirrel is almost as synonymous with Oakmont as the Church Pews bunker and the notoriously thick rough.
“That little squirrel sells a lot of merchandise,” said Annie Vanzant, director of merchandise for Oakmont Country Club. “He started off with a whole different look, with a tam o’ shanter. He had kind of a cartoon feel, but it was the start of what has become an icon for Oakmont and its championships.”