Meet Oakland Hills Fearsome Fivesome

By Chris LewisAugust 4, 2008, 4:00 pm

The South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club will once again be the focus of the golf world for this weeks 90th edition of the PGA Championship. The course has not hosted the PGA Championship since 1979, when David Graham defeated Ben Crenshaw in a playoff. Once dubbed the Monster by Ben Hogan after he won the 1951 U.S. Open, the club has hosted the 2004 Ryder Cup, six U.S. Opens and two other PGA Championships since its founding in 1916. The club is mostly recognized, however, for the South Courses notorious final five holes, the Fearsome Fivesome. These holes have been a deciding factor in each of the major championships the club has hosted.

Oakland Hills 14
No. 14 - Par 4, 501 yards
Hole Description/Difficulty: The first hole of the Fearsome Fivesome is a long par 4 that does not have a fairway bunker. At 25 yards, the fairway is very narrow and is protected entirely by trees, providing golfers with very little room for error off the tee. Bunkers have been placed in front of the left and right portions of the green, which is known for offering players little forgiveness for their approach shots.
Major Moment: During the Saturday foursomes of the 2004 Ryder Cup, the pairing of Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald birdied the 14th hole to eventually defeat Americans Jim Furyk and Fred Funk 1-up. The match would provide Europe with a large lead that would not be relinquished, as it defeated Team USA in record fashion, 18 to 9 .
What Members Say: According to Pat Croswell, PGA professional and the director of golf at Oakland Hills Country Club for 20 years, The hole features an unbelievable fall-away green with a large swale running from front right to back left. The front right hole location is the most difficult on the golf course.
Did You Know?: Course architect Rees Jones has added 28 yards to this already treacherous hole since the 2004 Ryder Cup, the last time a prestigious event was held here. Rees is the son of Robert Trent Jones Sr., who redesigned the course for the 1951 U.S. Open.

Oakland Hills 15th
No. 15 - Par 4, 401 yards
Hole Description/Difficulty: The par 4 15th is famous for its design for two reasons: First, it is a relentless dogleg from right to left that is protected by trees on the entire left side. Secondly, two bunkers have been purposefully placed in the center of the fairway to present an even greater challenge to golfers. One fairway bunker is 240 yards from the tee, the other is 280, providing shorter hitters with a decision to make - hit driver and try to hit over the bunkers or lay up, leaving a longer second shot into a small, contoured green that is already difficult to hold, even with shorter irons.
Major Moment: In his 2004 Ryder Cup singles match against Colin Montgomerie, David Toms bogeyed the 15th hole while Montgomerie double-bogeyed in order to halve the match. However, Montgomerie would win the next hole and, eventually the match, with a birdie on the 16th, for a 1-up victory. He even would have the pleasure of making the putt that secured Europes dominating triumph.
What Members Say: According to Croswell, The smart play would be to lay up short of the first bunker leaving a seven or eight iron to the green. The inverted saucer-shaped green has crowns and contours, and is flanked by five bunkers, three on the left and two on the right.
Did You Know?: Unlike the 14th hole, the length of the 15th has not changed since the 2004 Ryder Cup was staged. The 15th is one of six dogleg holes on the course.

Oakland Hills 16th
No. 16 - Par 4, 406 yards
Hole Description/Difficulty: This par 4 is Oakland Hills signature hole. Accuracy off the tee is a must for this dogleg right hole as water is in play on the right side, while trees guard the left. The green is wide and shallow with a ridge that runs from the front of the green to the back. Much like the 17th at Valderrama Golf Club in Spain, the 16th has a shaved area near the green that will feed short approaches into the water next to the green.
Major Moment: In the 1972 PGA Championship, Gary Player found himself trailing Jim Jamieson as he walked to the 16th tee, after bogeying the 14th and 15th holes. Player sliced his tee shot. However, just when it appeared that he had destroyed his chances of winning his sixth major championship, Player made the seemingly impossible look easy. After standing on a gallery members chair to have a look at the green and line up his shot, he hit a nine iron that cleared the trees and water and landed within four feet of the hole. After birdieing 16, Player won the championship by two shots over Jamieson and 1973 Masters Champion Tommy Aaron. Golf writer Herbert Warren Wind called Players shot one of the most spectacular recovery shots in championship history.
What Members Say: Pat Croswell said the following about the 16th: The second shot is one of the most intimidating shots at Oakland Hills. Some players may be tempted to use one extra club and take the water out of play. They run the risk of catching one of the three rear bunkers and leaving a difficult sand shot.
Did You Know?: The 16th green is the only green that is guarded by water. The water, along with the shaved area near the right side of the green, will force players to hit a decisive approach in order to avoid water and high scores.

Oakland Hills 17th
No. 17 - Par 3, 238 yards
Hole Description/Difficulty: The toughest par 3 on the back nine, the 17th is well respected as one of the most difficult holes on the course. Players will need to hit a long iron or a hybrid into a green that requires precise shot making skills and imagination. The green is 30 feet above the tee box and is protected by bunkers on all sides. The green is also severely sloped, with a ridge that starts at the front right and moves to the back center.
Major Moment: In the 1985 U.S. Open, two-time TOUR winner Andy North was hoping to regain major glory. The 1978 U.S. Open champion hit his tee shot on the 17th hole into a greenside bunker. He followed this mistake with one of the greatest pressure packed recovery shots in U.S. Open history, as his bunker shot settled inches from the hole. North would go on to win by one shot over Denis Watson, Dave Barr and Tze-Cung Chen. It would be the last victory of Norths PGA TOUR career.
What Members Say: Robert Trent Jones Sr. considered this one of the country's great par 3 holes, Croswell said. A hole location on the back right makes for one of the most challenging tee shots in championship golf.
Did You Know?: Since the 2004 Ryder Cup, the 17th hole has been lengthened by 38 yards. Golfers will be required to play the hole with an entirely different plan of attack than in previous years. The green will be just as unforgiving as in past major championships however. The lengthened 17th could provide much drama during the end of the final round of this years PGA Championship.

Oakland Hills 18th
No. 18 - Par 4, 498 yards
Hole Description/Difficulty: Arguably the toughest hole on the course, and, without a doubt, one of the greatest finishing holes in all of golf, the 18th hole has shattered dreams and created legends. The dogleg right par 4 has a fairway that slopes right to left, providing a challenge to even the most accurate drivers. Players will have to hit a long iron to the shallowest green on the course. The green also has a large mound in its center, which provides two landing areas for the players. Accurate shot making is a must in order to have a chance at par.
Major Moment: In the 1996 U.S. Open, Davis Love III had his greatest shot at major championship glory at the time. Instead, after hitting two superb shots to the green, he three putted. What will be remembered most is the three-footer he missed for par, after backing off the putt to swat away flies that were in his putting line. Shortly afterwards, Tom Lehman arrived to the 18th tee tied with Steve Jones at two-under par. Lehman hit his drive into a bunker and bogeyed the hole like Love III. Jones, however, made par and defeated Love III and Lehman by just one shot.
What Members Say: This has been the most difficult hole in the history of Championship golf at Oakland Hills, Croswell said. Rees Jones has (also) added two additional bunkers, making a total of seven bunkers protecting this dogleg right par 4. (The green) is protected by four bunkers.
Did You Know?: The 18th is actually played as a par 5 for Oakland Hills members. To add to the challenge of the course, the hole is played as a par 4 for the professionals. This has provided players with added pressure to score well on a hole that is already known as one of the worlds most challenging finishing holes. Over the years, championships have been won and lost on this picturesque hole. The leader(s) of the PGA Championship will be faced with a daunting task of finishing the race well.
Oakland Hills has been and will remain one of the most challenging tests in golf. The course has gained respect from professional golfers since it first held a major competition, the 1922 Western Open. Upon winning the 1951 U.S. Open with a final round of 67, one of only two sub par rounds for the entire week, Ben Hogan said, I am glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees. (This is) the greatest test of golf I have ever played and the toughest course. After his 1972 PGA Championship victory, Gary Player said, This is the best and toughest American course I've ever played - it is certainly quite humbling. The course will continue to humble players this week and well into the future.

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  • Lexi 'applaud's USGA, R&A for rules change

    By Randall MellDecember 11, 2017, 5:15 pm

    Lexi Thompson’s pain may prove to be the rest of golf’s gain.

    David Rickman, the R&A’s executive director of governance, acknowledged on Golf Channel’s "Morning Drive" Monday that the new protocols that will eliminate the use of TV viewer call-ins and emails to apply penalties was hastened by the controversy following Thompson’s four-shot penalty at the ANA Inspiration in early April. The new protocols also set up rules officials to monitor TV broadcasts beginning next year.

    “Clearly, that case has been something of a focus point for us,” Rickman said.

    Thompson reacted to the new protocols in an Instagram post.

    “I applaud the USGA and the R&A for their willingness to revise the Rules of Golf to address certain unfortunate situations that have arisen several times in the game of golf,” Thompson wrote. “In my case, I am thankful no one else will have to deal with an outcome such as mine in the future.”

    Thompson was penalized two shots for improperly returning her ball to its mark on a green during Saturday’s round after a viewer emailed LPGA officials during Sunday’s broadcast. She was penalized two more shots for signing an incorrect scorecard for her Saturday round. Thompson ultimately lost in a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

    The new protocols will also eliminate the additional two-shot penalty a player receives for failing to include a penalty when a player was unaware of the penalty.

    Shortly after the ANA Inspiration, the USGA and R&A led the formation of a video review working group, which included the PGA Tour, LPGA, European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America.

    Also, just three weeks after Thompson was hit with the four-shot penalty, the USGA and R&A released a new Rules of Golf decision decision (34-3/10) limiting video evidence in two ways:

    1. If an infraction can’t be seen with the naked eye, there’s no penalty, even if video shows otherwise.

    2. If a tournament committee determines that a player does “all that can be reasonably expected to make an accurate estimation or measurement” in determining a line or position to play from or to spot a ball, then there will be no penalty even if video replay later shows that to be wrong.

    While the USGA and R&A said the new decision wasn’t based on Thompson’s ANA incident, LPGA players immediately began calling it the “Lexi Rule.”

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    PGA Tour, LPGA react to video review rules changes

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 1:32 pm

    The USGA and R&A announced on Monday updates to the Rules of Golf, including no longer accepting call-ins relating to violations. The PGA Tour and LPGA, which were both part of a working group of entities who voted on the changes, issued the following statements:

    PGA Tour:

    The PGA Tour has worked closely with the USGA and R&A on this issue in recent years, and today's announcement is another positive step to ensure the Rules of Golf align with how the game is presented and viewed globally. The PGA Tour will adopt the new Local Rule beginning January 1, 2018 and evolve our protocols for reviewing video evidence as outlined.


    We are encouraged by the willingness of the governing bodies to fully vet the issues and implement real change at a pace much quicker than the sport has seen previously. These new adaptations, coupled with changes announced earlier this year, are true and meaningful advances for the game. The LPGA plans to adopt fully the protocols and new Local Rule as outlined.

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    Sharma closes on Monday, wins Joburg Open

    By Associated PressDecember 11, 2017, 12:43 pm

    JOHANNESBURG – Shubhankar Sharma won his first European Tour title by a shooting 3-under 69 Monday in the final round of the weather-delayed Joburg Open.

    The 21-year-old Indian resumed his round on the eighth green after play was halted early Sunday afternoon because of storms. He parred that hole, birdied No. 9 and made par on every hole on the back nine.

    Full-field scores from the Joburg Open

    Sharma finished at 23-under 264, three strokes ahead of the pack, and qualified for next year's British Open, too.

    ''I actually wasn't going to come here about a week ago ... so I'm really happy that I came,'' said Sharma, who shot 61 in the second round. ''I don't think I'm ever going forget my first time in South Africa.''

    Erik van Rooyen (66) was second, three strokes ahead of Shaun Norris (65) and Tapio Pulkkanen (68).

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    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 pm