It’s been a pleasure to watch the PGA Championship field play the newly expanded greens at Oak Hill. Most of Donald Ross’s East Course greens shrank over the years, and the last time we saw them during a major championship, the surfaces were circles and ovals. But thanks to the recent renovation work by Andrew Green and his team, there are now numerous interesting pins on every hole. Early favorites through the first two days include Nos. 2, 5, 15, and 16 in Round 1 and Nos. 1, 6, 11, and 17 in Round 2. These newly added pins allow the best iron players to separate from the field. Every player could hit the ball to the middle of the green and putt to the corners, but you won’t make many (if any) birdies at Oak Hill doing that. And even when you do land a tee ball in the middle of a green, it’s not always easy to cozy a lag putt inside a couple feet. Instead, the tucked Oak Hill pins demand excellence when players choose to attack. Anything less and you’re fighting tooth and nail for par, and often failing.
The PGA has used these new areas well so far this week, and although the rough is certainly a determining factor, the pin placements have also allowed the players with the most control of their golf ball to shine. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve shown just how interesting good golf architecture can be.