TOUR WATCH: 7-10 August: USPGA Championship; Oakland Hills Country Club, Detroit, USA


Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Ben Hogan famously brought the 'monster' of Oakland Hills to its knees in the 1951 US Open. The Detroit course, originally designed by Donald Ross and remodelled by Robert Trent Jones for that tournament – the original example of 'Open Doctoring'? – is one of America's great championship venues.

Throughout its 90-year history, Oakland Hills has been at the forefront of top level golf – up to and including the 2004 Ryder Cup, in which Bernhard Langer's European team delivered a comprehensive beating to the Americans.

Trent's son Rees has been working at Oakland Hills to strengthen the course's defences before this year's PGA – which will be the ninth professional Major to be held there. Famous for tough bunkering, narrow fairway and difficult greens, Oakland Hills is yet another classic course that has struggled to accommodate the increases in distance achieved by top professionals in recent years.

Even though the site is relatively constrained, Jones has stretched the course to 7,395 yards, par 70. The famous par four sixteenth hole, though still playing 406 yards, has been toughened up by extending the lake behind the putting surface: with a flag positioned close to the water, even today's long driving pros will surely think twice about going for the pin. At the 401 yard fifteenth, an extra bunker has been added in the middle of the fairway: will this make the players think twice about bombing away? We shall have to see.