Welcome to the incredible Oak Hill Country Club. This golf course has a rich history and a reputation for championship golf, including this year’s PGA Championship. So, let’s dive into the history of Oak Hill Country Club, explore highlights of the golf course, and take a closer look at what makes this place just so special.
Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York
Oak Hill Country Club was founded in 1901 by a group of Rochester-area businessmen who were interested in creating a club for golf and other outdoor activities. It began as 85 acres nestled along the Genesee River with a nine-hole course and farmhouse-turned-clubhouse. A couple of decades later, after striking a land swap deal with the University of Rochester, Oak Hill moved to its now current location. It was four times the size of the course’s original home, which allowed space for two 18-hole courses that would ultimately be designed by the legendary Donald Ross.
It was Ross’ belief that it was “the Lord (who) made golf courses” and it was simply his job as an architect to discover them. With this in mind, Ross made careful use of the terrain at Oak Hill by sculpting the already existing contours with purpose. The final product was two championship golf courses, the East Course and the West Course, with the East Course receiving the bulk of the attention.
Oak Hill Country Club has since hosted numerous major golf championships over the years and remains the only course in America to have hosted all six rotating men’s major golf championships, including the 1995 Ryder Cup and 1998 United States Amateur. In fact, this year will be the club’s fourth time hosting the PGA Championship.
The East Course at Oak Hill Country Club is known for its challenging layout and beautiful scenery. It was renovated in the 1970s by George and Tom Fazio, and again by Andrew Green in 2019, in an effort to modernize the golf course in keeping with major golf championship standards. Some changes to the golf course included new greens, more pin placement options, new bunkers, strategic tree removals, and more.
One of the most memorable moments in the history of Oak Hill Country Club came during the 1980 PGA Championship when Jack Nicklaus won his fifth PGA Championship title. Nicklaus famously carded a third-round 66 and a final-round 69 to win the tournament, and his victory helped cement Oak Hill’s reputation as one of the top golf courses in the world.
Another highlight of Oak Hill Country Club is its clubhouse – a Tudor-style palace that features elegant architecture and stunning views of the golf course.
Members’ original financial commitments to the club included a $25 initiation fee and yearly dues of $20.
Retired doctor John Ralston Williams was tasked to assist Ross in decorating the golf course with trees, mostly oak. Williams reached out to arborists around the world for help, one acorn at a time. There were contributions from oaks planted by George Washington at Mount Vernon, from the Shakespeare Oak at Stratford-upon-Avon, from Sherwood Forest, the Cedars of Lebanon, and from the Kew Gardens of England. When asked how many trees were planted, Williams said, “I stopped counting at 75,000.”
Oak Hills’ “Hill of Fame” features individuals who have contributed to the game of golf. They’re honored by a bronze plaque affixed to a tree to commemorate their achievements.
Oak Hill Country Club is a historic and world-renowned golf course. It’s one of the best tracks in the nation and a visit to Oak Hill should certainly be on your bucket list.