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Golf: 'Easy' is not a good description of Oak Tree National

PGA officials often toughen up courses for major tournaments. Hall said the rough at Oak Tree National will be 21/2 inches. But if winds howl the week the seniors are in Oklahoma, then USGA officials might have to shorten a few holes for the July 10-13 tournament.
By Mike Baldwin Published: May 5, 2014
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EDMOND — Jeff Hall, the United States Golf Association managing director for rules, said if the wind blows in mid-July like it did Monday at 2014 U.S. Senior Open Media Day, officials will consider making Oak Tree National a little easier.

“I don’t think you would ever use the word easy to describe this course,” Hall said. “We want it to be a difficult test of golf but fair, good shots rewarded. But we have to be practical.”

PGA officials often toughen up courses for major tournaments. Hall said the rough at Oak Tree National will be 21/2 inches. But if winds howl the week the seniors are in Oklahoma, then USGA officials might have to shorten a few holes for the July 10-13 tournament.

From the back tees, the par-71 Pete Dye layout plays 7,219 yards but can be shortened to around 7,000.

“There’s not that much that needs to be done,” said Bob Tway, one of five Oak Tree players who will compete on their home course. “It’s a hard golf course all the time.”

This will be Oak Tree’s fourth major.

Oak Tree pro Scott Verplank, who will make his Champions Tour debut at the 2014 U.S. Senior Open, won the 1984 U.S. amateur at Oak Tree. Jeff Sluman won the 1988 PGA and Jay Haas the 2006 Senior PGA.

Sixteen players shot under par the year Sluman won, but only five players were under par eight years ago.

“Certainly it wouldn’t be right to have a Pete Dye golf course set up that wasn’t visually intimidating,” Hall said. “That abounds at Oak Tree National.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt this golf course will challenge players. The challenge for (USGA vice-president) Dan (Burton) and I is to make sure it doesn’t challenge them too much, especially Thursday and Friday when we have 156 players.”

Stimpmeter ratings of 11.5 to 12 on the greens won’t be overly severe, but Oak Tree’s greens are small, averaging less than 5,000 square feet per green.

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