Accolades: Ranked 8th in New York on Golf Course Gurus Best in State list and 65th on Golf Course Gurus' All Time Greatest list.
What to Expect: The list of historic clubs with a rich tournament history is more prevalent in New York than any other state in the union and one club that adds to that resume is Oak Hill. The Donald Ross designed 36 hole complex has hosted the U.S. Open three times (1956, 1968, and 1989), the PGA Championship twice (1980, 2003, and will again in 2013), the U.S. Amateur twice, as well as a Senior U.S. Open, Senior PGA Championship, and the 1995 Ryder Cup. The rolling terrain at Oak Hill offers some great uphill and downhill holes as well as some lightly sloping fairways. A creek meanders through the East course and bisects some fairways half way through the hole, some 50 yards from the green, and some right next to the green. The course has plenty of trees lining the fairways but not near as thick or intrusive as is found at Winged Foot. It is a very classic feeling course with gentle doglegs and great strategy. Tiger Woods was quoted as saying Oak Hill was the hardest, fairest course that the big boys have been asked to play for a major championship. The West course is a solid offering and was lengthened during the 2009 season, but the East course is king at Oak Hill and features one of the finest front nines in the country paired with some of the toughest finishing holes in golf.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 13th Hole – 594 Yard Par 5 – The 13th hole is not only the signature at Oak Hill, it is one of the best par fives in the state of New York. Playing nearly 600 yards from the tips, this lengthy beast winds its way uphill past the course's Hill of Fame before reaching the bowled green. The Hill of Fame, found on the right side of the fairway, boasts a flag pole and several trees that are dedicated to different people that the club holds in high esteem; Oak Hill's greatest honor. It is a unique and worthy feature at this storied course.
Best Par 3: 15th Hole – 177 Yards – The final par three at Oak Hill's East course plays downhill to a green that is protected by a pond on the right and a pair of bunkers on the left. This type of design always makes you pucker; if you go right you are in the water. If you go left, you are in the sand hitting back towards the water. It is a great par three to play before heading into the three stout par 4s that conclude the round.
Best Par 4: 1st Hole – 460 Yards – Oak Hill's East course starts off strong with a great par four. Playing longer than most two-shotters, this hole features trees on both sides of the fairway and o.b. across the creek on the right side. The creek cuts in from the right across the fairway less than 100 yards from the green and shouldn't come into play on most approach shots. A big drive can catch the down slope and gain some extra yards and get your round started off right, but a poor drive will either find trouble or have a long approach into this green protected by two bunkers in the front and one in the rear.
Best Par 5: 13th Hole – 594 Yards – Throughout Oak Hill's long history, few players have ever been able to reach this green in two. Why? For starters, the fact that it is 600 yards long eliminates most players. Beyond that, there is a creek that crosses the fairway about 300 yards out. Therefore, the player must layup short of the creek and rip a 300+ yard shot uphill to the green, or the player must risk carrying the creek off the tee and then still be left with a very lengthy uphill shot to a green that is protected by six bunkers and is tucked into a hill. With the shape of the fairway creating a soft 'S' shape, eight bunkers, and a creek to contend with on this uphill monster; it makes for one fine golf hole.
Birdie Time: 4th Hole – 570 Yard Par 5 – During championship tournaments held at Oak Hill, this hole has coughed up 50% more birdies than any other on the course. The hole doglegs right and affords the opportunity to best a big drive over the corner and be in great position to reach the green in two. Two bunkers protect the inside corner of the dogleg while four more bunkers rest near the green; two bunkers greenside and two more short and right. If you can avoid the o.b. and bunkers on the right side of the hole on your tee shot, there should be little reason not to make a run at reaching this receptive green in two and scoring under par.
Bogey Beware: 18th Hole – 488 Yard Par 4 – Traditionally one of the three toughest holes during tournaments at Oak Hill, Shaun Micheel made one of the most impressive birdies in major championship history here en route to winning the 2003 PGA Championship. Up one stroke on Chad Campbell going into the 72nd hole, Micheel hit his tee shot to the first cut of the right rough and managed to hit a 7-iron 175 yards to within two inches of the hole. The clutch shot gave Micheel a tap in birdie and legendary status as a major champion. For us non-professional golfers, the 18th hole at Oak Hill is a beast that stretches out to nearly 500 yards and doglegs to the right. The inside corner of the dogleg is protected by a pair of bunkers while a slope in front of the green will repel shots from reaching the putting surface if coming in a bit short. This is a man-sized hole to finish on and one that will forever be remembered in major championship lore.