EDMOND — Mother Nature was cooperative to Oak Tree National weeks leading up to the 2014 U.S. Senior Open.
Steve Kimmel, Oak Tree National’s Director of Golf, said the Pete Dye-designed 7,219-yard, par-71 layout is in pristine condition, a stark contrast to the recent U.S. Open at Pinehurst, N.C., when Martin Kaymer romped to an eight-shot win.
“After watching the U.S. Open where it was brown and those wild-grass areas were all dead, this is going to be a really lush golf course,” Kimmel said. “We’ve probably had 12 to 15 inches of rain the past two months. We had rains early in the morning and rains at night.
“The weather has been unbelievably good to us. Everybody that has come through has said, ‘Wow,’ after playing the course. They rave about how good of shape the course is in.”
Superintendent Josh Cook was hired in January 2012 shortly after Oak Tree was awarded the 2014 U.S. Senior Open, which runs July 10-13.
Golf superintendents juggle several variables, the most important being weather.
“We were fortunate from the start to have a really dry spring, which helped us get our greens healthy, growing deep roots,” Cook said. “By the time our greens got their legs under them, we started getting some rain and some good night temperatures where the fairways came on strong.
“We’ve been really fortunate. Our maintenance team is really pleased with where we’re at.”
Longtime members said the only time the course has looked better was when they over-seeded Oak Tree months before the 2007 Senior PGA Championship.
Veteran PGA Tour pro Bob Tway has been with Oak Tree almost from the beginning.
“The golf course is beautiful, but it was beautiful in ’84 (for the U.S. National Amateur), it was beautiful in ’88 (for the PGA) and it was beautiful in ’07 for the Senior PGA,” Tway said. “They’ve always been able to get the golf course up to championship caliber condition.
“Throughout the years we’ve gone through ownership changes, but everyone has worked really hard to get the course back to the way it was. I think the pros that come into town are going to really like it.”
Following a practice round on Wednesday, Danny Edwards said Oak Tree National is a special place.
“We had so many guys on the (PGA) tour from here. (Oak Tree founders) Ernie (Vossler) and Joe (Walser) were fantastic to all of us,” said Edwards, who attended Edmond High School and Oklahoma State. “We were all so proud of what Oak Tree represented for golf in this area. It’s fantastic to come back and see the course look as good as it ever has.”
Lush fairways and greens in immaculate condition next week will be on center stage on ESPN2 (first two rounds) and NBC (final two rounds).
“The course is really going to look attractive, but the most important thing is conditions are such the course will provide a really good challenge,” Cook said. “We’ll ultimately crown a winner who will have to put together four really good rounds, which is your ultimate goal.”