Oak Hill Country Club is the place where golf dreams come true.
The official announcement on the next dream came Thursday.
That’s when the club, along with the USGA, revealed that the 2027 U.S. Amateur would be held in Rochester.
It will be the third time the Amateur has been played on Oak Hill’s world famous East Course. The first was also the first major event for the club in 1949. The Amateur was also in Rochester in 1998.
Club president Dr. David Fries said on Thursday he’s thrilled for Rochester and, especially, for the members.
“The Amateur is one event that they really love,” Fries said of Oak Hill members “We ask them, ‘what would you like to see us do again?’ The Amateur consistently rises to the top.”
The announcement was a joint one from the USGA’s point of view. They also unveiled Southern Hills as the host of the 2024 Women’s Amateur.
“We are excited to return to both Oak Hill Country Club and Southern Hills Country Club, places with incredible USGA championship pedigrees,” said John Bodenhamer, USGA senior managing director, Championships. “The memberships of these clubs and each community’s unbridled enthusiasm will lend themselves well to what we are sure will be two extraordinary championships.”
One of the attractions of the U.S. Amateur is access. There are less roped off areas. Spectators can often hear player-caddie conversations. They are even allowed to sometimes wander the fairways.
“I think it’s a little more intimate. You can spectate and get a little closer to the players. You’re getting to see many of the game’s future stars up close and personal,” Fries said.
The Amateur reunites Oak Hill with the USGA, the governing body that also runs the U.S. Open, the Women’s Open and the Senior Open.
Oak Hill has not hosted a USGA event since the Amateur was last in town. Since then, five consecutive PGA of America events have called Rochester home. That includes the upcoming 2023 PGA Championship.
“We’re one of the few places in the country that has tremendous working relationships with both,” Fries said. “We’ve had event after event that’s been with the PGA of America. They have been and continue to be an incredible partner for us. We’re ecstatic to have the USGA be a part of this as well.”
Fries rightly said it was a bit premature to discuss the Amateur as a possible first step towards the U.S. Open (or Senior Open) also returning to Oak Hill. The club’s plate is now full for, essentially, the next decade.
However, Oak Hill has done of nice job of creating possible long term opportunities.
“We’ll see where it goes. Having a relationship with both keeps a lot of options open,” Fries said.
This is the first event awarded to the restored East Course. Architect Andrew Green headed a crew that returned the championship 18 to its original Donald Ross design.
Work started late last summer and the finished product was unveiled the final weekend of May. The green complexes were all also significantly upgraded with a 100 year leap in drainage technology.
After all the work done by Green and head superintendent Jeff Corcoran, Fries said being awarded another top championship was “extremely gratifying.” He joked, “If you build it, they will come.”
The Amateur will be the 14th major men’s event hosted by Oak Hill. It is the only club to host all of America’s top men’s rotating championships: the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, Senior Open, Senior PGA, Ryder Cup along with the Amateur.
All except the Amateur feature the best pros in the world. Without those well known golf stars, some of the world’s top college players get a chance to be in the spotlight alongside players who provide the Amateur its unique charm.
“You’re going to have the 50 year old blue collar worker who wakes up every weekend and sweeps the dew at dawn with his three buddies and had one great day in qualifying,” Fries said. “Now, he gets to tee it up with the future stars of tomorrow.”
Fries added that he’s already taken calls from parents of young golfers who are excited for the possibility to play for a major championship at home.
“There’s a chance there’s someone in Rochester, right now hitting an extra bucket of balls, that is going to qualify and be a part of this field.”
And maybe have a dream come true.