EDMOND — The U.S. Senior Open went off smoothly over the last four days at Oak Tree National, and it brought wildly strong praise from players as being a course worthy of hosting even bigger events.
Oak Tree National owners have made their intentions clear that they want the biggest of the big — U.S. Open, PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, or any other major tournament from the men’s women’s, senior or amateur tours.
Now comes the part where the Oak Tree bosses have to put their ideas into action to draw the next big tournament.
Ed Evans and fellow co-owner Everett Dobson have been in close contact with the city of Edmond, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County and state departments to keep moving forward in hopes of making Oak Tree a regular stop for big golf tournaments.
The course played two strokes tougher than the last four U.S. Senior Open locations, with a stroke average of 75.311 over four rounds. Longtime pros who know what a real U.S. Open course looks like say Oak Tree fits the mold.
“We didn't play the whole golf course,” John Cook said after shooting 66 Sunday. “We played at least 90 percent of the golf course. It was plenty difficult. You stretch this thing out a little bit and yeah, it's a good test because you get the conditions like that where it gets firm and the ball is going. And the wind comes from an odd direction on every hole so it doesn't really allow you to use the wind. It's difficult.”
Previous owners had said the course couldn’t be lengthened to the point where it would challenge PGA Tour players. But with only two players finishing better than 1 under par, and the potential to play the course 200-300 yards longer than what the seniors played, those concerns have been resolved.
Wider roads around the course to allow for the smooth flow of fans in and out of the property remain an issue, but it’s something the course and the city of Edmond are well aware of.
Once the USGA officials saw Oak Tree in action the last seven days, they were able to put another of their concerns to rest, regarding the space available for the infrastructure of a big tournament.
A U.S. Open would use two or three times as much space for television needs, corporate tents, grandstands and other fan amenities.
“The USGA has spent a lot of time going around and looking at it, and I think we’ve remedied that concern,” Evans said. “We demonstrated that we do have a lot of extra space to handle parking and all those things.”
Yet some “For Sale” signs on property that was used for parking raise some eyebrows.
“I think keeping the property out there… would be important to the club, for it not to be developed,” said Oak Tree resident and Champions Tour player Willie Wood. “Once you get too developed, then all of a sudden, you lose spacing for tents and parking and all that stuff.
“It’s nice to have room for all those corporate tents. It’s gotten very, very important.”
If nothing else, Oak Tree National is back on the golf map now, after a successful week with the Senior Open.
“There’s only one U.S. Open a year and a lot of great courses in this country,” Evans said.
“We think we’re certainly worthy of consideration for some of the country’s biggest tournaments, and that’s all we can hope for,” Evans said. “We think there are a lot of opportunities for us, and our job was to put on the best show we could. I think we did as good as we could do this week. I don’t know how it could’ve gone better.”