PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Ten years after it last hosted the PGA Championship, Oak Hill’s East Course returns to the major spotlight this week with only a few alterations.
Kerry Haigh, chief championships officer for the PGA of America, said that the green surfaces at Nos. 5, 6 and 15 have been modified and “softened a bit.”
But the biggest difference, he said, was to some of the mowing patterns.
In 2003, there was a “step” cut of rough between the fairway and primary rough. This year, however, there is a 6- 7-foot-wide step cut, then an intermediate cut – which varies based on hole length, doglegs, etc. – and then the primary rough that is long and gnarly and acting as the course’s main defense.
The other significant change was to the length of rough on Nos. 5, 6 and 7 – Allen’s Creek will be much more in play. In many areas there is no longer a primary cut between the fairway and creek, which used to stop balls from trundling into the water. Now, much of that grass is shaved down and could lead to more shots that find the drink.
Overall, Haigh said, “the conditions we could not be happier with.”
Said Phil Mickelson: “It’s one of the best setups I’ve ever seen. The way the PGA has set it up with the graduated rough, the way they have rewarded good shots and severely penalized poorly struck ones. I just think it’s incredibly thought-out and should identify the best player this week.”