The East course at Oak Hill Country Club grabs all the limelight – and rightly so with a golfing pedigree that has seen it host US Opens, PGA Championships and a Ryder Cup – but for those who wish to play a largely unadulterated Donald Ross layout, the West course has remained virtually untouched since the old master designed it in 1926.
Golfers who compare the overall yardage, slope and rating of the East against the West will find, as expected, that the former is far longer and tougher than its twin sibling. Nonetheless, give or take a few missing bunkers here and there, and the repositioning of the 9th green, the West offers a more authentic Ross experience.Measuring 6,781 yards from the back tees, the West course plays to a par of 71, thanks in the main to the layout having only three par fives, just one of which (the 543-yard 6th) extends beyond the 500-yard mark. The opening three holes are testing par fours – rated 7, 5 and 1 on the stroke index – so golfers who don’t get in the game quickly will struggle badly here.
As a true lover of old school designer, playing a course that was almost untouched since it was created is something that I really like to do. I was invited to Oak Hill to do a presentation of Argentina as a golf destination and as a reward was invited to play both East and West Courses. I arrived to Rochester from Buenos Aires and went directly to Oak Hill, where the member who invited was waiting for me. First he took me on a tour to the fantastic Club House, with a lot of pictures, memorabilia and memories from all the championships played at this Club. While having lunch John and Ed told me a lot about the East Course, but also bout the West and how great it was, as most players say that the greens are more challenging at West. We played the back tees at almost 6800yds and I can tell it is a true golf challenge and a great design. Not one weak hole and the greens are very fast and with a lot of hidden movement. Being in the wrong side of the green is a 3 putt for sure, which I suffered 3 times. And missing the green by long is similar to death penalty, almost no chance of recovering. The course is maintained at the eaxact standard of the East, being the rough at the same height and greens rolling at the same speed. There are many holes that could perfectly be in the East Course maintaining the Chalenge or making it even tougher. 2nd is a very tough par 4, 4 is a very difficult par 3 even if you hit GIR. Then dog left par 4 seven has a very demanding approach shot and 9 is a very strategic par 4 where you need to have a full shot for the approach to the toughest green of the course. After a half way hot dog, we faced the even more challenging back 9, where 13-14-15 is a stretch where you can easily post very big numbers, being par 4s 13 & 15 very demanding both in the tee shot and uphill approach shots. 18th is not as tough as the one on East Course, but believe me that missing the green is a bogey almost always. I was lucky to play it presented in pristine shape, fairways rolling perfect, very demanding rough around the greens and some very nasty pin positions (9th, 13th). But it was a great experience and a very good warm up to play the East, although I can say that West game me a full Donald Ross experience. If you are able to play it, take the chance to play this excellent course, who will host US Amateur again in the near future.