Next up is the 2nd Major of the year as we head to Rochester, NY, for the 2023 PGA Championship.
The PGA Championship will be held at the Oak Hill Country Club East Course. Oak Hill has hosted six previous majors including 3 PGA Championships and 3 US Opens. The most recent of which was the PGA Championship of 2003 and 2013. Golfers will be playing a much different course this week.
Oak Hill underwent a major renovation or more so a restoration as it is closer to the original design by Donald Ross in 1926. More than 600 trees have been removed from the property. The par three 6th hole has been replaced with a 180-yard par three. The 5th hole will now be played as the 6th hole and has been lengthened to a 500-yard par Four. The pond on the 15th hole has also been removed.
The East Course is a 7,400 yard par 70 with Bentgrass greens. 7,400 yards is long for any course but even more so considering it’s a par 70.
There are two par fives, both of which are over 600 yards and will be difficult to reach in two. Two of the four par threes are over 230 yards. Seven of the twelve par fours are over 450 yards.
Hitting Fairways will be a tall task with so many tight fairways. Golfers will have to navigate long thick rough and even knee to waist-high rough if they venture too far off course. There’s also Allen Creek that comes into play on some holes.
Power off the tee will be a certain advantage as longer tee shots could avoid many of the fairway bunkers. Those longer shots obviously provide shorter 2nd shots which will go a long way when hitting out of this rough.
Shorter hitters shouldn’t be left out but will certainly need to be playing from the fairway if they expect to contend. With softer cooler conditions in New York this time of year, there shouldn’t be much run-off on tee shots.
Even though there are fewer trees on the course there’s still enough to cause trouble. Many 2nd shots will require some strategy with sight lines being blocked on some holes. The lie will also determine how aggressive golfers will want to be. As mentioned before the longer hitters off the tee could benefit from shorter irons generating more spin to stay on these difficult-to-hit greens.
Approach shots with long irons will come into play often. As a result, we could see a decrease in greens in regulation. The edges of the greens will likely be shaved and could cause approaches with too much spin to run off the front and not enough running off the back. This will bring around the green and scrambling into play.
There are also a number of greenside bunkers around Oak Hill. The bunkers all around the course are deep and penal. Sand saves will be relied upon but shouldn’t be a key focus. If golfers are continually playing out of the sand they’ll likely be out of contention considering how penal the bunkers are.
The greens themselves were a focus of the redesign. Many have increased in size and are closer to their original oblong and rectangular shape. Many of the pure bentgrass greens are elevated, tiered, and slope front to back. Putting from below the hole will be the preferred strategy.
All in all Oak Hill is a great setup for a Major as every facet of a golfers game will be tested.
The field consists of 144 golfers with the Top 70 and ties making the cut after 36 holes to play the weekend.
2023 PGA Championship: The Key Stats at Oak Hill C.C.
- Off the Tee
- Fairways gained
- Approach from 200+ yds
- Around the Green
- *Driving Distance is a Bonus