Cold raindrops fell in early May this year when Jeff Corcoran was walking oak hill country club East Course near Rochester, Pittsford, New York. Corcoran, who has been the manager of Oak Hill’s golf course and grounds for nearly two decades, was cautiously confident in its shiny condition.
Winters in western New York were unusually warm, with only 50 inches of snow falling compared to the 100 or so inches normally seen in the Rochester area, which was lucky for Oak Hill.The course was prepared ahead of schedule to host the 105th PGA Championshipoperates from Thursday to Sunday.
Once dubbed the ‘Last Shot of Glory’, the championship, held in August, has been retrofitted as the fourth and final major event of the year as golf moves the tournament to May in 2019. rose to second place from
The move was prompted by golf’s return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, creating a conflict with the PGA Championship. This forced the PGA of America to postpone the tournament until July. Officials did not want to adjust the schedule every four years for the Olympics, so they fixed a permanent date in May.
The sport had other advantages as well. By delaying the PGA Championship to May, the FedEx Cup playoffs could end in August to avoid playing against NFL powerhouses
The PGA Championship move didn’t seem so gamble when other venues were in the South. However, this year’s northern venue has yet to see its signature oak trees fully bloom, so watch out for the calendar change. Oak Hill and the PGA, which oversees the event, are offering a masterclass in course management in meticulous preparations taken to mitigate the region’s notoriously harsh winters and late springs.
They have no control over whether the weather cooperates or not.
“Mother Nature rules everything,” Corcoran said. “She’s undefeated. If she decides she’ll get 5 inches of snow, she’ll get 5 inches of snow. Or maybe she’ll decide she’s 70.”
It will be the earliest of 13 major men’s golf events to be held at Oak Hill, including the past three PGA Championships.The club has been selected to host the 2023 what happened 8 years ago Then, in May 2017, we learned that a move was imminent. They found a way to make that date work.
Golf insiders still agree that the second-place finish of the season has boosted the profile of the event following the Masters, the world’s most-watched golf tournament, despite weather concerns. Also, the two-month blank period between the Masters and the US Open has been eliminated.
“Being able to host a big event every month has been a great step forward,” said PGA Chief Championship Officer Kelly Haig.
Seth Waugh, chief executive of the PGA of America, said in an interview that August’s beach play prompted officials to come up with catchy marketing slogans to “make problems look like opportunities.” In an interview, he asked me to think about it.
“I think the number of spectators has increased,” he said. “I think there are more good stories to tell. And I think we’re more front and center.”
He appreciates the work behind the scenes. For major championships, golf organizers typically set up infrastructure such as stands and corporate tents at local clubs three months in advance. But in Pittsford, a suburb about eight miles southeast of Rochester, the ground usually freezes in February.
By November, crews will be driving beams into the ground and building tent floors and steel to withstand the worst snowfall, said Brian Kearns, championship director for the 2023 PGA Championship in Oak Hill. He said he built the walls six feet high.
This course was closed to members in October. By then, Corcoran had dictated the necessary agronomic practices, including aeration, treating greens with sand mixtures, and discontinuing the use of chemicals for snow molds.
Memories of a previously chilly May tournament at Oak Hill contribute to anxiety. Rain and high winds at the 2008 and 2019 Senior PGA Championships there (which will take place a few days later in May) made the thick rough growl even louder. In 2008, frost delayed practice rounds and sleet in the first round prompted some seniors to start packing. Jay Haas wins with 7 overs. There were only 12 total rounds of under par golf that week.
“It was definitely a cold week. The weather was tough, but the scores reflected that,” Haig said.
A lot has changed in Oak Hill since then. Shortly after the 2019 Senior PGA Championship, the course was redesigned by architect Andrew Green. Corcoran called it a “sympathetic restoration” to Donald Ross’ original 1926 design.
The green has removed hundreds of overhanging oak trees, allowing golfers to play more shots from the rough and improving sightlines for spectators. The club’s giant American flag to the right of the 13th green is now visible to most spectators on the front nine.
Green redesigned three holes that didn’t seem to fit Ross’ mold. He deleted his one completely. In the second round of the 1989 US Open, he was the scene of a 4-hole-in-1 with his par 3 No. 6. Together with his former 5th hole, it is now a par 4. The green has a new 5th par 3. Restoring the greens to their original size allowed Oak Hill to increase or add hole positions, giving the professional a new golf course.
“Our goal is to be rigorous, challenging and fair,” Haig said. “The focus is on driving and hitting the fairways.”
Those fairways will shine even if they are not very tree lined. “I have no control over it,” Corcoran said. “But they don’t play major championships from the trees, do they?”