PGA Championship 2013: A guide to Oak Hill Country Club's East Course

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Championship begins on Thursday and while it may not have the history of Merion or Muirfield, Oak Hill should be an excellent venue. Let's take a closer look at the host course.

Golf's major season comes to a close this week with the 2013 PGA Championship. It's been a great season for classic golf courses with Merion hosting the U.S. Open and Muirfield the site of The Open. Oak Hill Country Club's East Course doesn't quite have the history of the other two, but it should still be a great venue for the fourth and final major.

Let's take a closer look at the course players will be battling this week when they vie for the Wanamaker Trophy:

The history of Oak Hill

Oak Hill's origins date back to 1901, but the course the players will play this week came around a bit later. The original club was on an 85-acre piece of property along the Genesee River. In 1921, the University of Rochester proposed a land swap with the club in order to build a new campus. Oak Hill's members decided to take the deal, and the club moved to a 355-acre plot in Pittsford. The additional space allowed the club to construct two 18-hole courses, one of which is the East Course hosting this week's event.

Donald Ross designed the new courses which officially opened in 1926. Thirty years later, the East Course hosted its first major event when it was the venue for the 1956 U.S. Open. Oak Hill has hosted three U.S. Opens, two PGA Championships and a handful of other major events. The original layout has been updated first by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and later by Tom Fazio.

Biggest challenges

Rory McIlroy finished 13-under to win last year's PGA Championship, but don't be surprised if no player approaches double digits this week. Oak Hill has hosted five major championships and during them, a combined 10 players have finished under par.

One of the biggest challenges players will face this week is the trees and there are a lot of them. Oak Hill's fairways are lined with trees, which are guarded by thick rough. Putting the ball in the fairway off the tee is by far the top priority this week. As Lee Trevino, who won the 1968 U.S. Open at Oak Hill, said, you can't hit the ball crooked and contend at Oak Hill.

Players will adjust their games as a result in an effort to hit more fairways. Phil Mickelson is going without a driver once again, saying he's fine with having an extra club or two into the greens as long as he's in play off the tee.

Hole-by-hole

No. 1, 460-yard Par 4: If players can find the fairway on the opening hole, it plays shorter than its yardage thanks to some downslope. The problem is finding the fairway with out of bounds running down the right and trees lining both sides of the fairway.

No. 2, 401-yard Par 4: The second should be one of, if not the, easiest holes this week. It plays short and most players should be able to take an iron off the tee and still have a wedge into the green. The green slopes from back to front, but leaving the ball below the pin should setup a lot of birdie opportunities.

No. 3, 214-yard Par 3: Likely one of the hardest holes on the course, the small green at the third is lined with deep bunkers and other trouble areas. Players who go long will have a very tough time salvaging a par.

No. 4, 570-yard Par 5: A dogleg right, players will have a good shot to go at the green in two if they can cut the dogleg with their drive. Those who avoid a fairway bunker off the tee should have a very good chance at birdie.

No. 5, 428-yard Par 4: The hardest hole on the front nine, players face a very narrow, tree lined fairway off the tee. Assuming they get their ball in play, the trouble doesn't stop there with a creek running along the right side and in front of the green. The false front of the green slopes back to the creek making it possible for a ball to hit the green and spin off into the water.

No 6, 175-yard Par 3: The downhill Par 3 is a birdie opportunity if players can find the green. That is a big if with a large bunker on the right and a creek running along the front and left.

No 7, 461-yard Par 4: The seventh hole demands a good tee shot as the landing area is roughly 16 yards wide. Trees and a creek once again come into play. Most players will layup to avoid the hazard and end up with a mid-iron into the very small green.

No. 8, 428-yard Par 4: Compared to some of the other holes, No. 8 looks a mile wide off the tee. It still has its obstacles including deep fairway bunkers and clusters of treed down the right.

No. 9, 452-yard Par 4: A dogleg right, No. 9 can turn into a disaster hole if players go too far right off the tee. The rough is so thick on the right, players will be lucky just to get their ball back in the fairway. The green is teardrop shaped, which could provide some difficult approach shots, especially to back pin locations.

No. 10, 429-yard Par 4: Another hole demanding a good tee shot with a difficult fairway bunker on the left and a creek and trees on the right. The 10th green is one of the hardest on the course.

No. 11, 226-yard Par 3: The 11th has been lengthened by 30 yards since the 2003 PGA Championship. As a result, it will likely be one of the tougher holes on the back nine. Bunkers and a creek guard the adulating green.

No. 12, 372-yard Par 4: One of the few inviting holes off the tee, a good drive will leave players a short wedge into the sloped green. The green slopes from left to right and from back to front.

No. 13, 598-yard Par 5: The longest hole on the course, has never been reached in two during competitive play. Nicolas Colsaerts accomplished the feat during a practice round this week, but it will be a challenge for any player to accomplish that during the tournament. Players will need a 300-yard carry on their drive if they are going to clear the creek. If not, players will layup and have a wedge into a fairly easy green.

No. 14, 323-yard Par 4: The shortest hole on the course will see some players attempt to drive the green. Three bunkers and some rough in front of the green will make that a challenge, but this should be a scoring hole for most of the field.

No. 15, 181-yard Par 3: A very challenging Par 3 begins the closing stretch at Oak Hill. There are bunkers and thick rough on the left, but a large lake borders the right of the green. The wind tends to blow toward the lake, making an even bigger challenge.

No. 16, 439-yard Par 4: The downsloped fairway makes this one of the easier holes on the course. Players who find the fairway off the tee will have a wedge into a large green.

No. 17, 509-yard Par 4: Traditionally, the 17th is the hardest hole on the course. The dogleg right requires an accurate tee shot if players are going to avoid heavy rough. The challenges don't stop off the tee as the three-tiered green makes it hard to get an approach shot close.

No. 18, 497-yard Par 4: A very narrow fairway gives players an 18-yard wide landing area. Bunkers line the right while trees and thick rough provide obstacles on the left. The green is wide, but on the top of a slope so anything short could be in trouble.

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