|PGA Championship Hole-By-Hole Preview|
|By Philip Sokol, Director of Operations (Sports Network)|
|Oak Hill Country Club (East Course)|
|HOLE ONE - Par 4 - 460 yards:|
The mighty East Course at Oak Hill starts out with a robust par-4, one of 10 over 400 yards in length. Bending slightly to the left, the first requires an accurate tee ball, avoiding the trees down the left and out-of-bounds down the right. Missing this fairway will force the player to lay-up short of the creek that looms 80 yards from the green. The putting surface is 27 paces in length and guarded short-left and right by sand, with an additional trap in the rear. The slope is from back to front, so stay below the hole.
HOLE TWO - Par 4 - 401 yards:
Although just 401 yards in length, the second necessitates pin-point precision off the tee, as the fairway is quite tight with pinching bunkers and a right-to-left sloping landing area. The sensible play is to lay back short of the five fairway bunkers, thus leaving an uphill approach to the well-protected green. Make sure to choose the correct approach club, as any shot short, will come back down the fairway. Another slick green from the rear, so distance control is a must.
HOLE THREE - Par 3 - 214 yards:
The first of four outstanding par three's, the third is fairly long with plenty of sand to capture any errant play from the tee. The green is one of the smallest on the course at just 20 paces in length. Any play missed right will result in at best, bogey. Above the hole and you'll be hard-pressed to keep you ball on the putting surface.
HOLE FOUR - Par 5 - 570 yards:
Never say never, but the fourth hole is most likely not reachable in two on this rugged par five. Reaching as much as 570 yards in length, the fourth sweeps hard to the right with a pair of fairway bunkers guarding the corner of the dogleg. The layup zone, some 70 yards short of the green, is pinched mightily by a pair of bunkers down the right, so playing back to 100 yards seems prudent. Another minuscule greens awaits, featuring plenty of movement, thanks to a ridge in the rear portion. If your wedge game is hot, then you'll have a real chance at birdie.
HOLE FIVE - Par 4 - 428 yards:
Another signature hole on the East Course is the dogleg right, par four fifth. From a chute of trees, driving again is of utmost importance, as trees line the early portion of the fairway, with a creek running down the entire right side and crossing in front of the green. A successful tee shot will leave a mid-iron to a slightly elevated putting surface. Any play coming up short, will likely end up bounding back into the greenside creek. The green is fairly large with plenty of slope, so pay attention, otherwise your stroke will get away from you.
HOLE SIX - Par 3 - 175 yards:
The shortest par three on the course, features plenty of drama of its own. At just 177 yards from the black markers, No. 6 will five players fits, as a swirling wind from an elevated tee can create plenty of havoc. In addition, the creek from the previous hole cuts in front and runs down the left side of the green, all to close for comfort. This green is one of the most undulating on the course, especially the front-left portion. Shortsiding yourself on the right will find the only greenside trap or worse ... thick rough.
HOLE SEVEN - Par 4 - 461 yards:
One of the exciting, yet diabolical holes comes by way of the seventh. This par four requires a slight draw off the tee, avoiding the creek down the right and trees on the left. Now the fun begins, as you're left with a mid to long iron through a narrow chute of trees towards the green. Not only that, the putting surface is just 22 paces, the smallest on the course. Two bunkers, one on each side protect the entrance to the green. The best play, a hide fade to the center of the green. Two putt and move on ... trust me!
HOLE EIGHT - Par 4 - 428 yards:
The rugged test of the front side continues with the eighth, a straightforward par four. Fairway bunkers, strategically placed on either side of the landing area, pinch your play from the tee, not to mention the tall trees. Now it's a mid to long iron for your second, which again must dissect the sand and trees to the green. The putting surface is quite large with plenty of movement. This is a hard green to read, so ask for assistance from your caddie.
HOLE NINE - Par 4 - 452 yards:
The final hole on the outward nine is one of the most difficult on the course. Although it says 452 yards on the scorecard, the dogleg right ninth plays much longer, thanks to a roller coaster fairway and an uphill approach to the green. Again, trees guard both sides, so another accurate tee ball will be of utmost importance. Your second will require an extra club or two to reach the green, the longest on the course. Miss left and a steep incline will force your ball well below the green. A back flag on this arrowhead-shaped green will make two-putting a near impossibility. I talk from experience!
HOLE TEN - Par 4 - 429 yards:
Number 10 is a wonderful, downhill par four. Again, another narrow fairway, pinched by sand will test the player off the tee. In addition, the trees encroach the fairway, so three-metal might be the play here, as the slope of the landing area also comes into play. Your approach with a mid to short iron must carry to the top portion of the green, as a ridge in the middle section will force balls back off the surface.
HOLE ELEVEN - Par 3 - 226 yards:
The longest par three on the course, the 11th plays slightly downhill off the tee. A creek fronts the green, but is well short of the putting surface. It comes into play however, to the right of the green, so flight your approach properly or the wind can knock it down to the right. The green is wide, but quite shallow, so distance control is key. In addition, four greenside traps will keep you honest.
HOLE TWELVE - Par 4 - 372 yards:
Another difficult driving hole awaits on the 12th, one of the shortest par fours on the course. The key is taking the right club off the tee, as trees and thick rough line both sides of the fairway, so fairway metal should be the call. Your approach to the green will be uphill, so take enough club to reach the long and angled left putting surface. The fronting bunker sits well below the green and gives you an illusion that the green is closer than it is. Don't be fooled.
HOLE THIRTEEN - Par 5 - 598 yards:
Voted the signature hole at Oak Hill East, No. 13 is also the longest hole on the course, at almost 600 in length. Despite playing downhill from the tee, this is a true three-shotter, as a creek dissects the fairway at the 300 mark. Now it's layup time as you climb towards the green. Two large fairway bunkers cover the right side, so play down the left side for your best angle to the green. The putting surface sits in an amphitheater and guarded by numerous bunkers with the clubhouse in the background. The green is quite small as it runs from back to front, but a quality approach can result in birdie.
HOLE FOURTEEN - Par 4 - 3238 yards:
The shortest hole on the course, excluding the par 3s, is not necessarily the easiest. In fact, No. 14 is rated as the 10th most difficult. The hole plays downhill from the tee box to a relatively wide landing area. Beware, as the fairway tilts to the right, where thick rough and trees await. Your approach shot is straight uphill to the green, at least a club and a half, so choose the right stick. Three bunkers guard the front of the putting surface, as they sit well below the green, making for an almost impossible up and down. The two-tiered green can play tricks on your putting stroke, especially with a back-left pin.
HOLE FIFTEEN - Par 3 - 181 yards:
Rated the easiest hole on the East Course, the 15th presents plenty of obstacles, especially when the wind is up. The first obstacle is choosing the right club, as the hole plays downhill from the tee. Next, judging the wind and direction, as a pond sits dangerously close to the green. Finally, negotiating one of the longest greens on the course and its 34 paces. When all is said and done, bail out to the left and rely on your short game. Ending up in either of the two bunkers left sure beats the water on the right.
HOLE SIXTEEN - Par 4 - 439 yards:
Again, another hole with a narrow landing strip for a fairway, lined with trees on either side. No sand until you reach the putting surface, but the premium on an accurate tee shot continues, as the fairway tilts left. A mid to long iron is required to reach the circular putting surface with bunkers on either side. The fairly large putting surface slopes subtly from back to front.
HOLE SEVENTEEN - Par 4 - 509 yards:
For a par-5, the 17th is a pretty simple test, however when played as a par four during championship play, this hole will get the best of everyone. Playing 509 yards from the tips during all major championships, this hole necessitates a big drive down the left hand side, as the hole swings hard to the right. Trees adorn the entire right side, so avoid at all costs. A bunker on either side of the fairway, some 80 yards from the pin, see plenty of action, as they pinch the landing area quite tight. Bunkers short of the green will see their fair share of approach shots, especially when the pins are tucked. This is one of those holes where laying up short and chipping close might be the best option.
HOLE EIGHTEEN - Par 4 - 497 yards:
One of the greatest finishing holes in golf, the 18th at Oak Hill East is outstanding. From the tips, the last stretches 488 yards and requires a tee ball of 220 yards just to reach the fairway. As with most of the course, trees guard both flanks of the landing area, not to mention thick, juicy rough. Two bunkers down the right side of the rolling fairway must be avoided to have any chance of getting home in regulation. As the hole bends to the right, make sure you take enough club to reach the putting surface, as a deep ravine fronts the promised land. Although very shallow, the green is quite wide with several bunkers right and left. Who can forget the 7-iron struck by Shaun Micheel to win the 2003 PGA Championship that landed just two inches from the cup, as he secured the victory over Chad Campbell. A classic finishing hole by the master architect, Donald Ross.