For the next ten months, the legendary East Course at Oak Hill is closed.
The final shots for a while were hit over the weekend. The only walkers hosted by that course until next summer will be wearing hard hats.
Construction vehicles roamed like golf carts on Thursday as the club began, in earnest, the restoration of its crown jewel.
Trees that once guarded the entrance are gone. Dirt spots have replaced many of the greens. The actual layout of the course is changing, too.
The old par-3 sixth will be removed. It will be replaced with a new par-3 between the fourth and fifth holes. Mounds for the tee box and the green for “new” number five were already taking shape as of Thursday.
The next most noticeable change is the removal of the pond next to the 15th green. Instead, the green is expected to be elevated with steep drop to a chipping area where the pond used to be.
Despite all the very obvious changes, the most important is one hardly anyone will notice.
The greens all over the East Course have not been updated for nearly a century. It’s the primary reason the club has decided to undergo such an thorough change.
“Drainage, playability on a day to day standpoint for our membership. That’s really what the core of this project was,” superintendent Jeff Corcoran said. “Then, the further that we got into this and discussing this project, it just made sense to tackle 5, 6 and 15 which were three holes that were re-done prior to the 1980 PGA. “
The new layout will reflect the original Donald Ross design. The hope is to have the course open again by Memorial Day next May.
Good weather has already put the project a day or two ahead of schedule, but speed of completion is not the goal.
“We want to make sure we get it right,” Corcoran said. “When our membership comes out next May and June, we want to make sure this project gets done so they are ecstatic. That’s what it comes down to. Their satisfaction… and protecting Oak Hill’s legacy going forward.”
A legacy that will be tested again in the not all too distant future during the 2023 PGA Championship.