Jun 13, 2023

7 coolest things I saw in the Oak Hill clubhouse at the PGA Championship

There are plenty of cool things within the Oak Hill clubhouse.

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — This week's PGA Championship host, Oak Hill, is steeped in history and tradition.

There may be older clubs and courses in the United States, but only Oak Hill can boast the distinction of hosting the USGA and PGA's six biggest men's tournaments: the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship, the U.S. Senior Open, the Senior PGA Championship, the U.S. Amateur and the Ryder Cup.

With all that history comes a lot of artifacts to remember it.

GOLF got the chance to step inside the Oak Hill Clubhouse with club historian Fred Beltz and view some of the items. Beltz's office sits atop one of the coolest places on the property, the turret structure at the front of the clubhouse.

Next to his office is an attic filled with different items from trophies, to pictures, to clubs and even some commemorative sweaters for tournaments. But there is one item Beltz, who has been the club historian since 2005, said he hasn't been able to get his hands on.

"I’m dying to get ahold of Shaun Micheel‘s 7-iron," Beltz said. "I don't think that's going to happen for a while."

Micheel said earlier this week that the club, which he used to knock his final approach at the 2003 PGA Championship to 2 inches, remains at his home.

Here are the seven coolest items we got to see.

It was hard to sneeze and not bump into something that piques the interest of a golf nerd. Beltz said the club has more than 35,000 items in its collection. Some are arranged in various displays throughout the main part of the clubhouse, others are kept near the office. He said the future clubhouse restoration will allow for even more storage space.

Some of the items on display included golf balls from each era of design, from the feathery to the gutty, all the way to the Pro V1.

This poster from the 1989 U.S. Open, which hangs just before the tight, spiraling metal staircase up to Beltz's office, may not look so special at first. However, Beltz said it's kept around because it's one of a kind.

Look closely at the ring of names around the poster, which are all people who have been inducted into Oak Hill's famous "Hill of Fame" between the 13th and 10th holes.

One is misspelled.

We’ll give you a hint: Francis O-U-I-M-E-T's name isn't spelled with a "Q."

The Harmon family's connections to Oak Hill run deep. Butch Harmon's brother, Craig, was the head pro at Oak Hill for 42 years before retiring in 2013.

Because of that, there are several items tied to one of the great families of golf instruction, including this photo of a 6-year-old Butch and 5-year-old Craig, circa 1950.

You can see Butch crouching, helping his younger brother with his grip. They started ’em young back then!

In the back of the storage room was a rack of jackets and sweaters, all shielded with protective covers, but one was bright enough to see what it was.

Beltz pulled out a sweater from the 1995 Ryder Cup that was given to the spouses of the U.S. team. He couldn't take off the cover, but the dramatic design featuring putting greens, golf clubs and the Ryder Cup trophy shined right through.

The oldest piece in the collection is a 1903 scorecard from Oak Hill's original 9-hole course on the banks of the Genesee River.

Beltz pointed out a couple of things from the 120-year-old piece of paper; Firstly, it's set up for two players instead of the four that is typical for today because the most common game of the day was match play.

Secondly, the names of the hole were more prominent than the number. Beltz said this was because 18 holes had not yet been standardized as the length of a golf course.

And the coolest part of the card, according to Beltz, was the absence of par on the card. Instead, the course was played to bogey.

"It was before par existed," he said. "In the very early days of establishing a handicap, bogey was the score."

No, this isn't about Dustin Johnson's LIV Golf team. During the second round of the 1989 U.S. Open at Oak Hill, four golfers — Doug Weaver, Mark Wiebe, Jerry Pate and Nick Price — all made holes-in-one on the par-3 6th within a span of two hours.

The flag from the green that day is framed in the clubhouse.

The story goes when P.J. Boatright and Tim Moraghan set the pin the night before, both agreed the hole location could lead to an ace and perhaps more than one.

The par-3 6th from that year no longer exists.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the Oak Hill collection is an item that does not belong to the club.

On loan from Craig Harmon is the green jacket of E. Claude Harmon, Craig and Butch's father, from the 1948 Masters.

Masters Champions are only allowed to take their own green jackets off the grounds for the year after they win. Seeing one outside of Augusta National is one of the rarest finds in golf.

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at [email protected].