Oak Hill Country Club - East Course

The Oak Hill Country Club had lost over 30,000 square feet of green space from the perimeter of all of its greens. The aging process and a series of economic depressions reduced the size of many of the greens on the East Course. In the preparation for the1995 Ryder Cup Matches, it was determined to convert the greens to Providence Creeping Bentgrass and to enlarge the putting surfaces to their original size and shape where possible.

The greens that Donald Ross designed had been reduced in size and shape by as much as 25% on the whole. This happened over a seventy year span and was a result of typical mowing practices, irrigation upgrades and bunker renovations. The tendency of greens is to shrink each year as 'clean up' laps on the greens always cheat to the inside and creep towards the center. This shrinks the green ever so slightly at each mowing. When irrigation was added to the course, the heads may have been inadvertently placed too close to the center and mowing continued to shrink from the new perimeter. The conscious effort to reduce the size of the greens to keep costs down may also have contributed in the depression and slow economic times.

Our task was to measure the existing greens and compare them to the original green detail drawings generated from Donald Ross's Office. The comparison was striking and the original sizes averaged in the 6,000 square foot range. The existing greens were on the average of 4,500 square feet!

The drawing below indicates the original size of the 2nd green. The green size in 1994 was 4,500 square feet. The back left pin placement was restored and the back right was not because of the encroachment of a huge White Oak. The process was simple. Each green perimeter was painted in the field just before fumigation. The old pin placements on the edges of the greens were all restored. Holes 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14 & 17 all had expansion on the perimeters that restored great flag stick locations that had been slowly lost.

The slopes on a few of the greens were at critical grades. By the standards of today's Stimpmeter readings, green speeds are too fast for the steeper slopes of over fifty years ago. At the time of the restoration, little modification was made to the surfaces. The severity of the slopes adds a critical dimension to the course set up. Watching the speeds to be sure that they do not exceed the capacity of the slope to establish flag stick locations is a management criterion that must be closely monitored.

The size of the greens was a real surprise to the membership. The average size that Ross had implemented was drastically reduced over the years. Having more space is essential to maintaining quality surfaces, and adds variety in the course set up. This was a feature that Ross worked into every course he designed. Being able to put that dimension back at Oak Hill was enlightening and truly rewarding experience.