How Oak Hill Was Returned to Its Roots-News

Oak Hill Country Club, near Rochester, NY, has been a popular golf destination for men for many years: Since 1956, it has hosted three US Opens, three PGA Championships and a Ryder Cup.

But when the PGA Championship returns to Oak Hill on Thursday for the first time since 2013, the East Course will be different than it was at the top tournaments it played. In recent years, the group brought in Andrew Green to translate and restore some of Donald J. Ross’s original paintings from the 1920s.

Green, who has also worked to renovate other major championship golf courses – DRM Country Club, Inverness Club and Scioto Country Club – can sometimes be seen as “sarcastic,” as. Jack NicklausWho grew up playing in Scioto and won the 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill, he said recently.

In an interview this year, Green said he saw the Oak Hill project as an opportunity to reaffirm Ross’s approach, which includes a non-vegetative design.

“I took great pride in being able to recreate a few golf holes that had been lost to time,” said Green, who, in an attempt to interpret the thoughts of Ross, who died in 1948, studied his notes, pencil drawings. and official artwork, as well as a selection of vintage photos.

Ross’s influence at Oak Hill had faded over the years, particularly with the work of his two uncles George and Tom Fazio in the 1970s. Their changes, according to an Oak Hill account, “created a more complex pattern for several major tournaments that followed” and prompting “great criticism as they disagreed” on Ross’s original design. Hundreds of new and larger trees, the club said, have changed the course away from Ross’s vision.

“When the game of golf changed, players and critics and the golf world always felt that there was a problem on the golf course,” Green said. “Really, the main goal was to give back to Ross and make the whole course feel like he’s always been there.”

Par 3, 180 yards

The par-70 course measures 7,394 yards, 231 yards more than the 2013 PGA Championship but 151 yards less than Augusta National Golf Club played in last month’s Masters Tournament. With the odds expected to be tough and the sides of Oak Hill very narrow, even after most of the trees are removed, Green thinks the PGA Championship could prove “a fun event to see if the guys who can blast and putt have a leg up on anyone else, or if someone else those who pay golf well will be able to do well.”

An early look for finesse will arrive at number 5, where a long shot will disrupt the bird’s hope and can also play a role in the big challenge. Sitting between the fourth hole and the No. 15, the target emerges from the sand, curvy and slippery. Green and his colleagues saw No.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a shot, but looking between the greens and trying to make a putt would be my idea,” Green said. “All his vision was to play what Ross had on his sixth hole.”

After escaping from No. 5, a hole that Green believes is the most dangerous on the course.

Allen’s Creek runs down the right side from the start, forcing the player to choose between risking his shot into the water – but also having a good corner of the green if he avoids the danger – or facing the second tee shot. .

“The greens allow the ball to move, if they need a long club or if they have trouble on the tee,” said Green, whose restored course has water on six holes. “The same green, the front holes are easy to get to, but the right side, which is very important, is very difficult to get to. I think he will probably put a hole in it and go one day in the tournament.”

One of the problems is that the river does not always flow directly from the tee, or away from it. Instead, they end up moving around the fairway and then to the left of the green.

No. 6, Green said, was naturally a difficult hole, given its location and the terrain it sits on. With the fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth holes closed on very narrow ground, he thought that Ross “tried to find a very unique way of setting the golf holes side by side, and the result of this difference from hole to hole is what we found on the sixth.

Green added: “He had four holes of golf that, on a very flat surface, could be the same, but the way he used the land and the river made them look night and day, and he was a master at that. It was a very difficult thing to deal with. – it wasn’t just a small corner – so the way he did all the different things he did just amazes me.”

The longest hole, No. 13, could be a display of equipment that is helping elite players drive the ball farther than ever before. The hole climbs uphill, bringing players to the clubhouse, where Allen’s Creek is visible around 325 yards.

The equipment change, Green predicted, will entice top players to hit the ball on the river, which has been a rare occurrence in Oak Hill’s history.

“We’ve added a new tee, but I still think golf is sometimes set up where players can be tempted to play and get home in two,” Green said.

The water is not dangerous beyond the river, but near the newly renovated 78-room Oak Hill.

When Jason Dufner won the 2013 PGA Championship at Oak Hill, the 15th hole included a man-made pond near the putting green and a rock wall.

“It was a great shot at a major golf tournament and on TV,” Green said, “but it wasn’t good for the players, and it didn’t represent anything Ross could have done.”

So the pool is gone. Missing to the left will send the ball into the bedroom that protects the left. A miss to the right sends the ball off the target into the short grass, forcing the player to hit a slow shot onto the green, which is narrow left to right and front to back — perhaps, Green said, the club. – difference in half, front and back.

“It’s going to be a very difficult shot to control the distance and get around to get close to the slope,” Green said.

If the tournament goes to the playoffs, No. 15 will be his part, along with the 14th and 18th holes.

Eyes always turn to the 18th hole in every major tournament. For Green, that’s what he’s most worried about.

“Unfortunately, the green got a little stuck in its style as modern and out of touch with others,” Green said.

Now the green, which sits on the edge of a steep hill that the player must look for to carry and the second shot, is extended to the right and made deeper. The left side is deep, front to back, and there are three distinct sections within the green to putt the hole.

“Hitting a good drive is important — very important,” Green said of the hole, where the width can be as tight as 20 yards.

A player who hits the fairway well enough to get his ball to the green where the hole is will score a birdie. Otherwise, Green said, “it’s going to be very interesting to make these three.”

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