An 18-Handicapper 'Wouldn't Break 150 Around Oak Hill' - Pros Weigh In On PGA Venue

Three players have given their verdicts on how an 18-handicap player would fare at Oak Hill this week

The 13th hole at Oak Hill Country Club
Oak Hill would offer a stern test to an 18 handicapper, according to three pros
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As one of the four Majors, it’s hardly surprising that this year's PGA Championship takes place on a course prepared to offer a severe challenge to players. 

However, this year’s test at Oak Hill Country Club looks like being one of the toughest in recent years. The Andrew Green redesign of the course features long rough, penal bunkers and fast greens, meaning accuracy and discipline will be imperative for anyone hoping to challenge at the top of the leaderboard.

The build-up to the tournament featured several players commenting on the daunting task they face tackling the course, with comparisons made to a couple of the most difficult in the US, Bethpage Black and Winged Foot.

To offer even more perspective on just how challenging the course has been set up for the tournament, in a DP World Tour video, three players offered their opinion on how a player with an 18 handicap would fare.

Not very successfully, to put it mildly, according to Billy Horschel, who said: “It wouldn’t be unrealistic for an 18 handicap to score 150 or higher, easily. The rough’s too thick, and not used to playing out of it. So I’m saying somewhere between 130 and 150.”

One of the players more desperate than most to exert his authority on the course will be Jordan Spieth, who will claim a career Grand Slam with victory. However, if his estimate on how a player with an 18 handicap would perform is anything to go by, he is fully aware of the daunting challenge he faces to achieve his aim.

He said: “Breaking 100 would be really impressive for anybody that’s even single digits. It’s just very hard to hit the fairways and if you miss them, you just have to kind of gouge it out and lay up, and then your work’s not done there.”

Finally, Belgian Thomas Detry wasn’t too enthusiastic about the prospects of an 18 handicapper's chances on the course either. He said: “An 18 handicap wouldn’t even break 120, I think. I mean, I don’t think an 18 handicap would finish holes, to be honest. 

"That’s a bit mean, to be honest, but yeah, it’s definitely a good test. The rough is up out of here and the greens are definitely quicker as well as the week went on, so definitely not even close to breaking 120.”

Earlier in the week, the likes of World No.1 Jon Rahm, two-time PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy and 2022 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler had their say on the course.

Rahm, perhaps understandably given his excellent form, seemed confident of getting to grips with it, despite admitting it will be tough. He said: “It's challenging, but it's one of those where if you hit the shots you're supposed to hit, put it in the fairway, go to the centre of the green, nothing crazy should be happening.”

Elsewhere, McIlroy, who is looking for his first Major win since 2014, said discipline would be a “huge factor,” while Scheffler added: “The rough is very penal. The fairways are really firm, so they're hard to hit.”

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.