Keeping with the trend of hosting the PGA Championship in a year ending in 3, Rochester’s Oak Hill (East Course) will host the 2023 PGA Championship. It will be the fourth time the club will host the PGA, to go along with three U.S. Opens and two U.S. Amateurs.
Oak Hill, regarded as one of the most difficult major championship venues, was torched last time by Jason Dufner, who fired a major championship record-tying 63 in the second round. (Although Oak Hill was more like Soak Hill all week as torrential rains took away most of the course’s teeth and claws.)
Still, it’s a middle-of-the-pack major venue, possibly lower half, a la Congressional or Torrey Pines. It’s not as horrific as the ghastly Atlanta Athletic Club, but it’s definitely overrated and certainly not the 11th best golf course in America as one magazine ranked it, unless you’re just talking about the clubhouse.
Short by modern standards, the course needs to be tricked up with senseless rough. Moreover, it’s too dictatorial, requiring too many center-line shots, and has too many trees, weird doglegs and holes that look alike.
“You feel like you’re playing the same hole over and over again,” said one player in 2013, and he’s right.
The myriad uphill approaches, countless pinched fairway landing zones and too much homogenization of the greens and fairway contours by Tom Fazio and Rees Jones, the strategy-light layout gets boring with its tired “five o’clock-seven o’clock greenside bunkers” make apparent Oak Hill's lack of character. It’s too bad we’re not at Oakland Hills instead, or Oakmont, or Winged Foot , or National Golf Links.
The biggest problem might be, if you cut all the trees down, you might leave the course defenseless.
“The trees define the playing corridors here,” opined golf pundit Marino Parascenzo at the 2013 PGA, who agreed that if you cut the trees down you erase a significant part of the course’s defense.
“That’s what makes Oakmont so good,” he chortled amusingly. “They cut all the trees down and you still can’t best it!”
In other news, last week the PGA of America also announced that the Grand Slam of Golf is cancelled for 2015. Originally slated for the Donald Trump-owned Palos Verdes course near Los Angeles, Trump’s intemperate comments regarding Mexican immigrants were so inflammatory the PGA of America decided to take the tournament away from the presidential candidate’s course. While PGA officials stated that they still plan to have the 2022 PGA at Trump Bedminster, the banner for the club and the 2022 PGA was absent from both the media center and the grounds at this year’s PGA at Whistling Straits.