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PGA Championship: Oak Hill Country Club holes

Rochester Business Journal
August 2, 2013

HOLE 1            Par 4 - 460 yards
For the PGA Championship in 2003, the opening hole was lengthened by 20 to 30 yards by moving the tee back so it shares the teeing area with the 14th hole-making what Ben Hogan once described as the most difficult starting hole in golf even more of a challenge. This year, it again will play 460 yards and require a right-to-left tee shot to dodge the rough right of the fairway. Long hitters will have an advantage if they can reach the down slope at the 260-yard mark, putting them in position for a short iron to the green. The creek that crosses the fairway 80 yards from the green can come into play for those who are forced hit their second shots from the deep rough.

HOLE 2            Par 4 - 401 yards
This hole features a tight tee shot to a fairway that slopes from right to left; many players will opt for a long iron or fairway wood, aiming for a left-to-right fade off the tee. Deep bunkers near the landing area pose an additional challenge. The green slopes from back to front; approach shots with too much backspin will roll off the front of the green between the bunkers. So iron shots below the hole will offer the best birdie opportunities.

HOLE 3            Par 3 - 214 yards
The most difficult par 3 on the East Course is slightly longer than it was for the 2003 PGA Championship and 1989 U.S. Open. The small green is difficult to hold. Errant tee shots likely will find one of the five deep bunkers stationed at both sides of the green. Any tee shot that is missed long and to the right will roll down a hill, resulting in a very difficult up and down.

HOLE 4            Par 5 - 570 yards
The easiest hole during the 1989 Open and 2003 PGA Championship, it gives up more birdies than any other hole. Players will be tempted on the tee shot to hit driver and cut the corner on this dogleg right-over a pair of deep fairway bunkers-so the green can be reached in two shots. Those who hit into one of the bunkers will find it difficult to more than lay up with a short iron on the second shot. Most players are likely to play No. 4 as a three-shot hole. The most difficult pin placement is the terrace on the back-center.

HOLE 5            Par 4 - 428 yards
The "tunnel" trees around the championship tee and the creek-which is not visible from the tee-that traces the right side of the fairway in the landing area and then curls in front of the green make this perhaps the most difficult driving hole on the course. Heavy rough on the left adds to the challenge. An errant tee shot likely will result in a double bogey. No. 5 was the most difficult hole in the 1980 PGA at Oak Hill and was the second most difficult in the 1989 Open.

HOLE 6            Par 3 - 175 yards
A 6, 7 or 8 iron will send a well-struck tee shot to this tricky green, which is protected by a bunker on the right and the creek on the front and left side. No. 6 is famous for the four holes-in-one it gave up during one round of the 1989 Open, when the pin was on the front portion of the green and in a valley. A back-right hole location poses the most difficulty.

HOLE 7            Par 4 - 461 yards
A new tee in 2003 added some 30 yards to this challenging par 4. That change brought into play the hardest part of the landing area-which is less than 25 yards wide-for players who chose to hit driver off the tee. A straight first shot will result in a mid-to-long iron uphill to one of the smallest greens on the course. Danger lurks for errant tee shots-the trees to the left and Allens Creek to the right. The green is protected by bunkers on both sides.

HOLE 8            Par 4 - 428 yards
A good drive on this straightaway hole will be rewarded with a short iron approach to a large green that is protected by four bunkers. The two fairway bunkers on the left were deepened in 2003 and will punish those with less-than-accurate tee shots. The two bunkers right of the fairway do not come into play.

HOLE 9            Par 4 - 452 yards
A dogleg right and uphill, this finishing hole on the front nine was lengthened by nearly 35 yards for the 2003 championship. As a result, it requires a long, accurate tee shot to a landing area that is only 25 yards wide. The drop-off right of the landing area has been described as "Death Valley"-it is impossible to reach the green from there. The green is fairly deep but narrows at the back. A second shot down the hill to the left of the green will likely result in a bogey.

HOLE 10          Par 4 - 429 yards
The No. 10 tee shot is more difficult than it looks because the fairway slopes to the right. A drive that finds the deep bunker left of the fairway will make it very difficult to reach the green in the regulation two shots. The green is surrounded by bunkers and features a ridge across the front center, making for a more demanding approach shot.

HOLE 11          Par 3 - 226 yards
During the 1989 Open, this was the 16th most difficult hole. For the 2003 PGA Championship, more than 30 yards were added, making No. 11 considerably more difficult. A creek curls around the front and right side of the green. Pin location-and wind direction-can make this hole trickier.

HOLE 12          Par 4 - 372 yards
The green on this relatively short par 4 cannot be driven, but some players will be tempted to hit a driver to try to see how close they can get. They need to keep the ball in play, however. A tee shot that ventures too far right or left can result in tree trouble. Most players will hit an iron off the tee and have 120 to 145 yards left on a partially blind, uphill second shot. This is one of the better viewing holes for spectators.

HOLE 13          Par 5 - 598 yards
This is Oak Hill's signature hole, featuring the greenside Hill of Fame honoring golf's greatest players and past heroes of Oak Hill tournaments. It is a beauty whose green has never been reached in two shots-but some of today's longest hitters are sure to try. The creek crosses the fairway roughly 300 yards from the green; for most players, this means laying up to earn a well-placed second shot that will result in a short iron to the green. Approach shots that stop above the hole leave a treacherous downhill putt.

HOLE 14          Par 4 - 323 yards
The shortest par 4 on the course will tempt some players to hit driver off the tee to get as close to the back-to-front tiered green as possible. Most, though, are likely to choose the safer route of hitting a long iron off the tee, leaving 100 yards straight uphill to the green, which is 24 yards deep. Because of the slope and the speed of the green, No. 14 will give up fewer birdies than one might expect.

HOLE 15          Par 3 - 181 yards
This par 3 is slightly longer than it was 10 years ago, but its chief challenge is a small green protected by bunkers on the left and a pond on the right. If the green is hard and difficult to hold, some shots might roll in that direction. Any tee shot that goes over the green will result in a chip or pitch shot that is almost impossible to keep on the putting surface.

HOLE 16          Par 4 - 439 yards
Though this hole rewards long, straight drives, the fairway slopes to the left and a tee shot with too much of a draw will run from the narrow landing arear toward the deep rough. A drive that stays in the fairway will earn a 9-iron or wedge into the fairly large green.

HOLE 17          Par 4 - 509 yards
This tough dogleg right par 4 was the most difficult hole in the 1989 Open-and then it was lengthened by some 35 yards to remove the possibility of flying the trees down the right side and having a short iron to the green. A left-to-right tee shot is required; a perfectly straight shot is likely to run through the fairway into the left rough. A pin placement in the front or back of the green will pose particular risks because the green has two plateaus.

HOLE 18          Par 4 - 497 yards
Already a difficult finishing hole, No. 18 was lengthened dramatically in 2003. Anyone needing a par or birdie to win the tournament will have their work cut out for them. Players will not be able to carry the deep fairway bunkers, and hills and trees lurk on the left. The wide, shallow green lies at the base of a steep slope. This has always ranked among the most difficult holes on the East Course.

8/2/13 95th PGA Championship special supplement (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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