Oak Tree National is a notorious Oklahoma club where players can be battered by Pete Dye, but if they think that Oak Tree Country Club’s East Course will be a breeze...well, it’s all relative. Walk across the street from the aforementioned brute and you’ll learn that a “nice” Pete and Alice Dye are still quite something to deal with. The property’s water begins to set in on the final six holes, and the challenge ramped up accordingly.
Both Nos. 14 and 17 are par threes that require carries over water to expansive greens with many potentially dangerous pin positions. Pete constructed many dogleg lefts around lakes in his time, but No. 16 — the course’s signature hole — is among the most intimidating; its drive is manageable, but the entry to the green is frightening, with the lake wrapping around the left and back of the putting surface. The club hosts the Oklahoma Open, a state title that’s been won by Bob Tway among other Okie icons.
Oak Tree’s East course, host of the Oklahoma Open, is at times a visually special track with a spectacular back nine. It was constructed in 1981 by acclaimed architect Pete Dye, a man whose collection in Edmond, Oklahoma totals 54 holes. The aspect that sticks out to me most about the East course is its utilization of railroad ties, a Dye tradition, especially on the latter half of the routing. I was amazed by the difficulty of this course: it is absolutely not for the faint of heart. The track has a few holes that may seem ridiculous to someone who has never walked the routing; the tee shots on five, seven, and 10 give no indication of the best landing spot. These shots can be puzzling if you’ve never played. Though East flows in and out of a neighborhood, the ClubCorp facility has some great views, notably the approach on the par four 16th, which offers a panoramic shot of the next two greens. If there’s a photo to be had on this course, it is right there on that approach. In fact, holes eight, 13, 14, 16, and 17 are all beautiful and deserving. Each of the last six holes of the East course are extraordinary. Make sure you watch out for the raised green on the par four 13th, though; it’s a lot trickier than it looks. Maybe there’s never been a more fitting interpretation of Oak Tree’s East course. I found it to be an appreciable time. That is, if you can take the beating.