Location: Rochester, NY
Architect: Donald Ross
Year Constructed: 1925
Played: September 23, 2008
Sometimes I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. The day I played Oak Hill Country Club’s East Course was one of those days. Here I was playing golf at one of the world’s great courses on a day with PERFECT weather and with fantastic playing companions. On top of all that I was playing pretty well! I felt so good and relaxed that I forgot all about every other thing going on in my life and in the world for those 4 hours. The day ended up being exactly the type of escape that golf is supposed to be.
Once you pass through the main entrance to the club you drive for what feels like quite a ways down a road with golf holes lining the left hand side. After what seemed like an eternity I finally got my first glimpse of the clubhouse, a grand old tudor building with a cool slate roof. Inside it is HUGE (69,000 square feet) and has everything you would expect a clubhouse to have . . . including 8 lanes of bowling!
The Head Pro at Oak Hill is none other than Craig Harmon. Craig Harmon is the son of Claude Harmon who happens to be the 1948 Masters Champion and the last club pro to ever win a major title. Also of note is Craig’s brother, Butch Harmon, who coached Tiger Woods during his 34 month hot streak where he took home seven major titles. If there were golf royalty in America, they would surely have the last name Harmon.
A couple of noteworthy things about the course. Donald Ross did the original routing and layout of both the East and West Courses in 1925. The East Course is the tournament course and has hosted numerous USGA and PGA events including The Ryder Cup, US Open, Senior US Open, US Amateur, PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship. In 2013 the PGA Championship will be returning to Oak Hill for the 3rd time. No other club has hosted this many majors.
We played the white tees which are set up to play just over 6500 yards. The blues played 6900 and the blacks (where the pros play from) were stretched out to 7150.
The 1st hole is a fairly long par 4 at 433 yards. Below is a photo of the approach to the green. There is a creek running across the fairway about 80 yards out from the center of the green. The drive is at a tricky angle and for the second shot players need to hit a mid to long iron over the water. Not an easy starting hole. Even Ben Hogan once stated it was the hardest starting hole in golf.
Below is a photo of the 2nd green. At 361 yards this is a relatively short par 4 to an uphill green.
The photo below is the 3rd hole which is a 176 yard par 3. This the first of 4 really great one shot holes at Oak Hill. The hole sets up perfectly to play a nice draw into it. If you miss the green the rough is pretty thick and will make a tricky pitch to the green. This par 3 has been left completely unchanged since Ross originally designed it.
The picture below shows the tee shot for the 542 yard par 5 4th hole. As you can see the player needs to hit their drive straight. That chute is every bit as narrow as it looks!
Below is the 2nd shot on the par 5 4th hole. This one plays long so us mere mortals are not likely to reach it in two. Note the trees lining the fairway. John Williams, a past member of Oak Hill, planted more than 75,000 oak trees on the golf course. That is a ton of trees!
The 5th hole pictured below is a 367 yard par 4 slight dogleg right and the water is very much in play on the tee shot.
The 6th hole below is a beautiful 140 yard par 3. At the US Open in 1989 there were four holes in one recorded here within the first 90 minutes of play in the first round. The hole was playing about 170 yards that day. This hole is particularly good looking with the stone around the green and the bridge behind it.
The photo below taken from the 7th fairway is what Oak Hill is all about . . . beautiful trees. This picture really exemplifies Oak Hill’s East Course to me. The 7th hole is a 414 yard par 4.
Below is a photo of the approach on the 7th hole. Notice that creek is running across the fairway again. Depending on the tees being played and how long a player drives the ball, the hazard could come into play off the tee.
The 8th hole pictured below is a 423 yard par 4 and gives yet another view of the tree lined fairways at Oak Hill.
The 9th hole comes back to the clubhouse and is a 400 yard par 4 dogleg right. A good tee shot is crucial to have a manageable approach shot. Below is a photo of the green taken from about 120 yards out.
The 10th hole plays downhill and is a 403 yard par 4. A drive that catches the left hand side of the fairway will roll down nicely and leave a very reasonable 2nd shot. Note the creek is crossing the fairway again!
Below is the 11th hole which is yet another nice par 3 at Oak Hill. This one was 175 yards from the white tees. The pros play this one from 225 yards. Yikes!
The 12th hole, pictured below, is a 367 yard par 4 to an uphill green. The rough around the green on this one is again pretty thick making it crucial to hit the green to avoid a nasty pitch out of long grass uphill.
The 13th hole is a fantastic par 5 and one of the best I’ve played. Its plays 563 yards from the white tees and the pros play it from 594. Only recently has anyone made the green in 2 during tournament play. The creek crosses the fairway again so the pros have to be careful on their drives. Some can clear it but not many as the carry is 300 yards which makes it a pretty risky shot. The photo below is taken from where I hit my 3rd shot after playing a nice hook out of trees and back to the fairway for my 2nd shot. Up on the right hand side where the flag pole stands is the “Hill of Fame”. The trees up on the hill have been dedicated to various people important to the club and to golf. There is a past club president as well as numerous professional golfers. The area around the green forms a natural amphitheater and is a popular place for spectators during tournaments.
The 14th is a short par 4 playing only 323 yards from the tips. When the pros play this hole they either hit driver to try to get on the green in 1 or a mid iron to put them out on the fairway with a wedge to the green. Surely a spot of great theater during the professional events hosted here.
The 15th hole is a 157 yard par 3 with a small pond on the right hand side (see below). There is no reason at all for this hole to be difficult. The four par 3s at Oak Hills East Course are all great holes and offering a great balance of fun and challenge.
Here is a shot taken from the . . . ahem . . . drop area. As small as the pond may have been I still managed to find it.
The 16th hole is a very straight forward par 4. Its pretty long at 432 yards, but it plays downhill. Jim, my host said that the pros just destroy this hole. Because there is not much trouble on the hole they swing for the hills so that they can have an easy wedge into the hole. The old “Bomb and Gouge” technique.
The 17th hole plays as a short par 5 from the white tees (452 yards), but the pros play it as a 495 yard par 4. The drive plays uphill and then it doglegs right. From the white tees a good drive will leave you just a little over 200 to the center of the green, so it is absolutely reachable in 2. The photo below was taken from where I hit my 2nd shot, about 210 from the center of the green.
The 18th hole is a 396 yard par 4 that twists a little bit to the right. If you miss the green short here you may have some trouble. The fairway dips down to a valley just below the green and the grass on the hill up to the green is all rough. The pitch onto the green for players who land short is straight uphill and not very easy. The photo below is from the fairway where the 2nd shot would be taken.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my post we had a perfect day at Oak Hill. The weather was glorious, the company couldn’t be beat, the course was pristine with the greens rolling as smooth as can be and to top it all off I was happy with the way I played. I really do get lucky sometimes.
From start to finish visiting Oak Hill Country Club is a fantastic experience that should never be passed up if the opportunity is presented. I’m not really in to ranking courses that I have played but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is one of the best courses that I have ever played. the course itself is one of those great old classic courses that I love. The vintage feel is everywhere and playing the course is like slipping on a comfortable well broken in pair of pants. I could not find anything about the course that I considered unfair in any way. Simply put, it is a masterpiece.
The odds of a tour professional to hit a hole in one is 1 in 3000. At Augusta International’s par-3 9th hole, 21 aces have been recorded – that’s 50% more than any other hole at Augusta. What enables golfers to have a much higher likelihood of a hole-in-one? Check out this video to learn the secret.
If you’ve had a hole-in-one, MyScorecard will award you a badge to commemorate your achievement! If you record your score on a hole by hole basis, the badge will be given automatically, otherwise email MyScorecard customer service and we’ll ensure we update your profile.
In the history of the sport, no style or position of putting has been left untried. Perhaps the only items left are the limits of technology. The purpose of this post is to instruct you how to putt like a surgeon. Not saying all surgeons are great putters, but most have a steady hands.
“Putting is like wisdom. Partly a natural gift and partly the accumulation of experience.” – Arnold Palmer
Regardless of the technology, techniques, or form, putting is a highly individual art form. This post won’t claim one style of putting is superior than another. This post hopes to educate you on the styles, tips, and best practices that have yielded the highest results and then let you decide on how to putt best for you. We’ve already share how to hold the putter, but this one goes deeper.
For example, let’s analyze some of the best putters in our sport’s history. Below are great images of how to putt like the best putters. Notice each one has their unique style they’ve cultivated from continual trial and error.
“Still even in putting there is a right and a wrong way. Take the test of experience and you will find that in the long run the man who puts in the approved method wins the day.” – Henry James Whigham
Jack Nicklaus Putting
Jack Nicklaus had a very distinguishable style. Hunched over, knees bent, hands pressed forward, and an open stance characterized his style. If you’re wondering if changed over the years, take a look below.
Now take a look at his stance only a few years ago:
“If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even putt.” - Dean Martin Read the rest of this entry »
Continuing with our series on the Costliest Rulings in Golf, here is yet an another event that can be tagged “a misfortune” in golfing history. In case if you missed our previous post on this series click here.
# 3. Craig Stadler:1987 San Diego Open
It was 1987 and Craig Stadler (nicknamed “The Walrus”), who was among the third-round leaders, hit his tee shot on the par-4 384 yard 14th hole at the San Diego Open at Torrey Pines. Unfortunately, the ball landed under a low-hanging branch of a large Leyland Cypress tree.
To make his swing easier, Statdler decided to hit his next shot from his knees. In order to do that without staining his expensive pants from the wet grass, he placed a towel under his knees and chipped the shot into the fairway. Little did he knew about the consequences of that.
When the 3rd round highlights were televised in NBC before the Sunday’s final round, the scenes of Stadler kneeling to his shot caught the attention of many viewers. Viewers then flooded the tournament press with phone calls saying it was a violation of PGA rule.
He finished his rounds 4 shots behind George Burns but was later informed by the officials that use of the towel was considered “building” a stance, which is a rules violation. And because he had signed the scorecard for less than the correct score (i.e without two-stroke penalty) on Saturday, he was disqualified from the tournament.
It costed him $37,000 prize money and second place.
Here is what the rule of Golf (13-2) says,
A player must not improve or allow to be improved:
the position or lie of his ball, the area of his intended Stance or swing, his Line Of Play or a reasonable extension of that line beyond the Hole, or the area in which he is to drop or place a ball,
by any of the following actions:
pressing a club on the ground, moving, bending or breaking anything growing or fixed (including immovable Obstructions and objects defining Out Of Bounds), creating or eliminating irregularities of surface, removing or pressing down sand, loose soil, replaced divots or other cut turf placed in position, or removing dew, frost or water.
8 years later when Tom Wilson, a member of the tournament organizing committee, heard the tree was dying by fungus, invited Statdler to do the honours and help cut down. Statdler readily accepted and said ”It’s been eight years. It’s time to put it rest”.
Continuing with our series from the The Itinerant Golfer’s quest to play all top 100 American golf courses, The Scratch Pad is glad to bring you a profile of the 1st and the top most rated golf course in America, Pine Valley Golf Club.
Pine Valley Golf Club
Location: Pine Valley, NJ Architect: George Crump & H.S. Colt Year Constructed: 1918 Played: August 14, 2008
It was surprising to me in the weeks leading up to my trip to Pine Valley Golf Club how many golfers I ran across who were not familiar with the club. The most common question I get these days from my golf friends is “Where are you off to next?” When I would respond with “Pine Valley” more often than not I would receive a blank stare and the question “Where is that one?”
To answer that question once and for all, Pine Valley is in Clementon, New Jersey right outside of Philadelphia and it is, at the time of this writing, not only the #1 course in America, but also the #1 course in the World. Because there has never been a PGA tournament held at Pine Valley the course is little known outside of golf course fanatics and aficionados. Among those who know the course it is widely considered the greatest test of golf on the planet. The course is a par 70 and plays to a rating of 72.7 and a slope of 153 from the member tees. For those of you following along at home, that not only makes it the #1 course in the World, but those slope and rating numbers also mean it is the hardest course in the World as well. Lets make that the greatest and most fearsome test in golf.
Pine Valley is so hard there are legendary stories about the course. Some certainly are true and some are probably just urban legend. Some of my favorites are the player who went out in 38 on the first nine and then took a 38 on the 10th hole; Professional Gene Littler’s 7 on the par 3 5th hole during Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match in 1963; British writer Bernard Darwin who played the first 7 holes in even par and then after hitting a nice drive to the middle of the fairway on the 8th took a 16 for the hole. Read the rest of this entry »
To hear John Huggan tell it, it’s pretty common:
You may not want to hear this, but golf at every level is rife with cheating. Well, OK, rife may be too strong a word. But it’s out there, at every level of the game up to and including the professional level, where the temptation to transgress is obviously increased by the often huge financial rewards available.
You’ll never read the names of those involved though. Officialdom doesn’t want you to know who they are (and the legal implications of publicly exposing the culprits don’t help either). Some, in fact, are really quite famous. One multiple major champion, by way of example, is a notorious cheat and the subject of any number of head-shaking locker room tales. Ryder Cup players are not immune either. At least one is tainted forever by his serial cheating. And there are others, many of whom have won events through the most dubious of methods.
It’s hard to tell exactly how accurate his assessment is. We all know of the rumors about Vijay Singh, and there’s a scandal surrounding Elliot Saltman and some shady activities on the European Challenge Tour (the equivalent of the Nationwide here in the US).
With that much money on the line, pros will take every advantage they can get – whether it is the grooves on their wedge, or the putter on their belly. And with the money that’s on the line, it’s not terribly surprising to hear that there’s quite a bit of rule bending going on. We know that it’s happening on the LPGA.
Maybe we all sort of assume that it’s taking place and that’s why we’re so impressed when somebody does something like Brian Davis.
[Illustration from mensgolftips.com]
Derek @ 72strokes.com
Caddies play a pivotal role in a player’s performance. The great Bobby Jones once said “If I needed advice from my caddie, he’d be hitting the shots and I’d be carrying the bag”. But yes, mistakes do happen and caddies are no exceptions to that. Such was the case in Ian Woosnam and his caddie Myles Byrne, our #2 on the list of the Costliest Rulings in Golf series. If you missed our other entry in this series click here.
It was a wonderful start for Ian Woosnam at the 2001 British Open – against all expectations he was in contention to win his first open at Royal Lytham & St. Anne’s. Tied for the lead with three others, he marched with a lot more confidence into his final 18. He started the round with a birdie (missed a hole-in-hole by a whisker) at the opening par 3.
The tale then had a sudden twist as something dramatic happened. His caddie, Myles Byrne, came up to him and said, “You’re going to go ballistic” – “We’ve got two drivers in the bag” as he pointed out the extra driver. That meant Woosnam was carrying 15 clubs, which indeed is a two-stroke penalty.
Woosnam responded by throwing the extra club to the ground in disappointment. ‘I give you one job to do and this is what happens,’ he said. As a result of the penalty, Woosnam finished with 71 – four shots behind the winner David Duval, tied for 3rd place.
Here is what rule of Golf (4-4) says,
The player must not start a stipulated round with more than fourteen clubs. He is limited to the clubs thus selected for that round, except that if he started with fewer than fourteen clubs, he may add any number, provided his total number does not exceed fourteen.
It costed Ian Woosnam 218,333 pounds and a potential Ryder Cup spot. On the other hand, caddie Byrne lost anywhere from 15 to 20 thousand pounds in caddy earnings.
Below is the final leaderboard of the 2001 Open:
Woosnam surprisingly decided not to fire him stating: “It is the biggest mistake he will make in his life. He won’t do it again. He’s a good caddie. I am not going to sack him. He’s a good lad.”
Ironically, Woosnam did fire his caddie two weeks later when, after a night drinking on the town, Byrne slept in and failed to turn up to tee-time.
Byrne was last seen lugging bricks, having become a construction worker on a building site in Bray, Ireland, according to writers who cover the European Tour. And Ian Woosnam never came close to the leaderboard again. They never spoke after the split but we hear Woosnam checks with Byrne’s brothers, Brian and Dermot, both European Tour caddies, about him.
Watch this below video (or click here) that captures the moments in disappointment of Ian Woosnam.