Oak Hill Country Club hosts this year’s PGA Championship.

It has tested the skills of some of golf’s greatest players, and legendary golfer Ernie Els once called it, “The best, fairest and toughest championship golf course I’ve ever played in all my years as a tour professional.” And that’s exactly why Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. hosted the 1980 and 2003 PGA Championships and, this year, hosts it for the third time.

“Oak Hill is one of only six clubs who have hosted the PGA championship three or more times,” says Ryan Cannon, championship director for the PGA Championship.

“It is joining a fairly small group of facilities that holds that distinction, and it speaks to the fact that [the PGA] enjoys coming here.”

Oak Hill is also the only club in America that has hosted all six of the men’s touring golf championships—the U.S. Senior Open, the U.S. Open, the Ryder Cup, the U.S. Amateur and the Senior PGA Championship—in addition to the PGA Championship.

The 2013 PGA Championship marks its 11th premier golf championship.

SMALL BEGINNINGS

The Oak Hill of today has come a long way from its humble beginnings, which date back to 1901 when golf was still a relatively new sport in America. In its earliest incarnation, the course was just nine holes on 85 acres, and the clubhouse was a converted farmhouse. By 1921, however, the country’s interest in golf had grown, and Oak Hill had doubled in size. When the University of Rochester offered a land swap in 1921, the club took the institution up on its o~ er and moved the club to a 355-acre plot in nearby Pittsford, which gave them room for two 18-hole golf courses.

Designated the East Course and West Course, they took shape at the hands of noted golf course architect Donald Ross, and the club officially moved to its new location in 1926. In 1941, the East Course became home to its first tournament—and has been the site of tournaments since that time.

“For the avid golf fan, just stepping onto the grounds is an unbelievable moment,” Cannon says. “It was constructed by a legendary architect, and with all the major golf championships they’ve hosted, it is incredible to think about who has walked there before you.”

Hole 13 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York, the site of the 95th PGA Championship (photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America).

Hole 13 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York, the site of the 95th PGA Championship (photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America).

In addition to being a challenging course, the East Course is a work of art from an architectural standpoint. The now-mature oak trees, planted when the course was first designed, provide a spectacular view, and the sprawling course made Golf Digest‘s 2009 list of America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.

“Just the experience of walking the grounds is spectacular,” Cannon says. “It’s one of those places that, from the time you drive in the main entrance, you know you’re in this special place. You feel it when you walk around, and you feel it every time.”

Adding to the ambiance is the Tudor-style clubhouse bedecked in ivory. “Both the interior and exterior design of that clubhouse harken back to a time that makes it all feel very historic in nature. It’s just an electrifying feeling that’s hard to describe.”

STAYING ON COURSE

Whether they are there to watch a tournament or to play a few rounds themselves, visitors to Oak Hill Country Club always walk away feeling that they have been part of something very special, Cannon says.

“It’s one of those courses that just has the ‘it’ factor,” he maintains. “It’s a combination of the architecture of the course, the massive oak trees, the gentle rolling hills and the backdrop of the clubhouse. It isn’t any one thing; it’s the way all of these things work together to make it such a unique place.”

˝ e history of the club is something that each player and spectator becomes a part of with every visit.

“It’s part of the DNA of the club. You feel the history of all the great players who have ever competed on this course—and it’s an amazing thing.”

GOLF TALK:

The term “birdie” comes from an American named Ab Smith. While playing in 1899, he played what he described as a “bird of a shot,” which became “birdie” over time.

Source: www.intotherough.co.uk

HEAD FOR THE HILL

This year, the 95th PGA Championship will unfold at Oak Hill Country Club Aug. 5-11. The tournament represents one of the largest sporting events across the globe and is one of golf’s most prestigious events. The finest professional golfers have competed for the highly sought-after Wanamaker Trophy every year since 1916, and past champions have included the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Walter Hagen. For 2013, 156 of the best players from around the world will compete for the top prize.

This year’s event has drawn ticket holders from all 50 states and 47 countries. Remaining tickets are limited, but can be found at www.oakhillcc.com.