Golf Asia


Jason Ballard, Head Pro at Oak Hill Country Club, on the unfamiliar challenges awaiting the players – and why the conditions might be comparable to an Open Championsh­ip


We’ve added some length to the course, about 250 yards compared to 2013, and taken some of the Fazio changes that occurred in the ’70s out and brought back more of

the original Donald Ross design. All

the bunkers and greens have been redone. No.5 is a completely new hole and No.6 will also look a little different. There’s a few less trees and some new hole locations which will bring some bunkers and run-offs into play, so it’s going to be a challenge. Hopefully it will be a tougher test than before.

The front nine is way more difficult

than the back nine. Apart from No.2 and maybe No.8, there aren’t many birdie opportunit­ies on the front nine. We’ve got Allen’s Creek, which runs through the property and comes into play a lot on the front nine. You could easily see a leader drop out of contention and then make a charge again on the second nine.

You need to drive the ball well to

contend. The rough is thick. The greens are gettable but it’s really a shotmaker’s golf course. There’s a stretch, from 10 through to 15, where you can really go at it. That’s where we’ll see some activity with people moving up the leaderboar­d. No.14 is a driveable par 4, which plays about 320 yards, but we’ve just added a run-off area that leads to an out of bounds. That will give the long hitters something to think about.

I don’t see a shorter hitter winning

here. We’ve only got two par 5s, one on the front, one on the back, but No.4 is going to play 615 and No.13 has been extended by 20 yards to 623, so they are difficult to reach in two, even for the big hitters. The 13th is probably our signature hole. To carry Allen’s Creek, you’re looking at a 340 carry. We’ll see if anyone attempts it, my guess is maybe only if it plays downwind.

Even though we do have some slopes, it’s nothing like Augusta

National. Our biggest elevation change is maybe 25ft. It’s quite an easy walk which should suit Tiger, though the weather will probably be the biggest factor for him. The removal of the trees could bring the wind into play a little bit more. We can also get some cold stretches, so I expect we’ll get a bit of everything that week: wind, rain and sunshine. It could come down to who is on the right side of the draw.

Based on the thickness of our rough and the length of the golf course, you need to be accurate and long to

contend here. My predecesso­r said it’s one of the hardest driving courses around and he’s right. If you look at our past championsh­ips here, most of them have been won with a singledigi­t score under par. Jason Dufner got to 10-under but it was wet that week. If we get a repeat, I can see the same thing happening again for sure. But if the course dries out and the wind picks up, players could have a hard time.

A lot of our members will be pulling

for Rory. He spends some time here during his off-season, so he’s got to be one of the favourites. I think his game fits the course perfectly.

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