Oak Hill Country Club near Rochester, New York has been the home of professional men’s golf for decades. Since 1956, it has hosted three US Opens, three PGA Championships and the Ryder Cup.
But when the PGA Championship returns to Oak Hill for the first time since 2013 on Thursday, the East Course will be unlike some of the elite tournaments it’s hosted. In recent years, the club has welcomed Andrew Green to interpret and restore some of Donald J. Ross’ original designs from the 1920s.
Having overhauled other major championship courses (Congressional Country Club, Inverness Club and Siauto Country Club), Green grew up playing Siauto and won the 1980 PGA Championship. A recent story that is sometimes seen as “pretty radical” like Jack Nicklaus won, the championship at Oak Hill.
But Green said in an interview this spring that he sees the Oak Hill project as an opportunity to reemphasize Ross’ approach, which includes unconventional Green shapes.
“I was most proud to be able to restore some of the golf holes that have been lost over time,” Green said. Green studied his writings and pencil sketches in hopes of deciphering his thoughts, who died in 1948. Also included are formal drawings and a selection of historical photographs.
Roth’s influence in Oak Hill faded over the decades, particularly with the work of uncle-nephew duo George and Tom Fazio in the 1970s. According to Oak Hill’s own account, their changes “produced a more challenging layout for several subsequent major championships”, but at the same time were met with significant criticism because they “did not fit Ross’s original design”. ” was promoted. The club also said hundreds of new trees, and eventually overgrown trees, had pushed the course away from Ross’ vision.
“As golf courses have evolved, players, critics and the golf world have always felt that there was a disconnect within the golf course itself,” Green said. “Really, the main goal was to reinject the ross and make the whole course feel like it was there.”
No.5: Little Poison
Par 3, 180 yards
The par-70 course has 7,394 yards, 231 more than the 2013 PGA Championship, but 151 less than Augusta National Golf Club’s play at the Masters Tournament last month. Even after many trees have been cut down, the rough is expected to be difficult, and parts of Oak Hill are noticeably narrow, so Green said that the PGA Championship “will allow players who can actually bomb and gouge out their legs.” I think it can present an interesting balance to see if you have someone who can rely on others or who is good at manipulating a golf course, and you can still have a good run. “
An early glimpse of finesse is at No. 5, a long tee shot that almost kills birdie hopes and can even make par a formidable challenge. Located between the 4th hole and his 15th hole, the target emerges from a thicket of sand, rough and steep slopes. Green and his colleagues envisioned the No. 5, which has two tiers of the green, as a mid-iron test.
“It’s going to be a little nerve-wracking shot, but my suggestion is to aim for the center of the green for your putt,” said Green. “That whole vision was to play off what Ross had in the first six holes.”
After escaping at No. 5, awaits what Green believes is the most dangerous hole on the course.
Allen’s Creek runs along the right side from the start, and players either risk dropping their tee shots into the water, avoiding hazards and potentially approaching the green at a better angle, or are faced with a long second shot. You are forced to choose whether to .
“Green can use a longer club if necessary or put the ball into the approach if he has trouble with his tee shot,” said Green. The restored course has running water on six holes. “The green itself, the front hole position is fairly accessible, but the right back position is very demanding and very difficult to access. On certain days we will put the hole back and move the tee forward.”
One of the challenges is that the creek doesn’t just flow straight off the tee, or even off the tee. Instead, it ends up slanting across the approach to the left side of the green.
According to Green, the 6th was naturally the trickiest hole, given its location and its parcel of ground. With the 4th, 6th, 7th and 8th holes placing slots on relatively narrow ground, Ross “tried to find the most unique way to place these golf holes side by side. The result? , It may have been possible to differentiate it from the golf hole.” The hole-to-hole was what I got with number 6. “
Green added: “He has four golf holes, and on very flat ground they should potentially be about the same, but it depends on how he uses the ground and the creeks, day and night. Every hall was different, and he was a genius at that.It was a very messy material he had to deal with – it wasn’t just a giant rectangle – that’s why he It was just amazing to me how .
The longest 13th hole could be a showcase for equipment that helps top players hit the ball better than ever before. The hole is uphill, with players making their way towards the clubhouse and near the 325-yard mark Allens his creek emerges.
Green predicted that equipment evolution would see top players hit the ball across the creek, a relatively rare occurrence in Oak Hill’s history.
“We’ve added new tees, but I think sometimes the golf course is set up so that players want to play on it and go home in two minutes,” Green said.
Water isn’t a threat over the creek, but two of Oak Hill’s 78 bunkers are near the newly transformed green.
When Jason Dufner won the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill, the 15th hole featured an intimidating man-made pond near the putting surface and rock wall.
“It was a very dramatic shot for major championship golf and television,” Green said. “But it wasn’t very good for the guys playing and it wasn’t representative of what Ross would do.”
So the pond is gone. If you miss the left side, the ball will enter the bunker protecting the left side. A right off will push the ball away from the target in the short grass, forcing the player to make a delicate shot to the narrowest part of the green. The green is narrow left and right and deep front and back. Perhaps Mr. Green said: the club said: 1.5 difference between front and back.
“It’s going to be a very demanding shot to control both distance and spin to get closer to the position of the hole,” said Green.
If the tournament goes to playoffs, the 15th will be in the playoffs along with the 14th and 18th holes.
At a major tournament, the 18th hole is always the focus. For Green, that was his biggest concern.
“Unfortunately, the green was very modern in its shape and stood out a little bit, out of character with the rest,” Green said.
Situated on the edge of a steep hill that players should aim for on their second shot, the green is extended to the right and deepened. The left side is shallow from front to back, effectively giving him three different sides within the green to place the hole.
“It’s important to hit a good drive. It’s absolutely critical,” Green said of the hole, which has a fairway as narrow as 20 yards. “There are some very deep bunkers on the right side that will make it very difficult to get back home.”
A player who hits well from the fairway and lands the ball in the zone of the green where the hole is located will get a birdie shot. Otherwise, Green said, “It’s going to be a pretty dramatic putt to hit that 3-putt.”