Just kidding! We are so excited to bring our oldest and most venerated event, the Massachusetts Amateur Championship, to Oak Hill Country Club in Fitchburg. Oak Hill is plenty historic, but surprisingly has only hosted this event once before! The club, officially organized in 1921, has hosted the Mass Open six times in its history, as well as a handful of other MGA, NEGA, and WGAM Championships.
The story of Oak Hill goes back nearly a century and is similar to many of our most historic Member Clubs - a group of friends who loved golf wanted a place where they could play and socialize. So ground was broken on a new Wayne Stiles-designed nine-hole golf course in May of 1919, with the club open for play on July 4, 1921.
|The first tee at the 1935 Mass Open at Oak Hill: (L-R) Champion Gene Sarazen, Dave Hackney, Jesse Guilford|
From a 2007 Worcester Telegram article:
Ron Pritchard, a Donald Ross restoration expert, is preparing a master plan to update Oak Hill. Ross designed Oak Hill’s back nine, which opened in 1927, and later renovated the front nine, a Wayne Stiles design, which opened in 1921.
“Most of what he’ll do,” Tom Bagley, a former Oak Hill president and current member of the grounds committee, said, “is try to restore as much of the lost character as he can, but making allowances for the fact that the golf ball is going farther than it ever had and repositioning tees and perhaps adding a bunker or two.”
The master plan will need board approval and work may not begin for a couple of years, but it should be finished by the 2011 Mass. Open. Bagley figures another 200 yards could be added to stretch Oak Hill beyond 6,800.
Bagley has begun research for a book celebrating the club’s 100th anniversary and he has found documentation that Ross visited Oak Hill in 1925. As many as 400 Ross designs are dismissed as courses Ross designed on paper, but never visited. Courses where Ross was known to have been directly involved in construction are considered superior to courses where he wasn’t, Bagley said.
Ross returned to Oak Hill in 1935 when Gene Sarazen won the Massachusetts Open and Ross was presented with a medal by the Massachusetts Golf Association in recognition of his Mass. Open title 30 years before. Sarazen won the second Masters earlier that year and made his famous double-eagle on the 15th hole.
|Circa 1926 - the original clubhouse with golfers on the Wayne Stiles-designed 5th green|
After a fire destroyed the clubhouse in 1941, the members rebuilt, with the structure of the 1942 clubhouse still standing today. Though the interior of clubhouse has been renovated and brought into the 21st century, you can just feel the history in a place like this - just think of the names that have played at Oak Hill and been through the clubhouse: Ouimet, Guilford, Sarazen, Bishop, Zaharias...some heavy hitters for sure!
Qualifying for the Massachusetts Amateur Championship begins on June 4 and wraps up on July 1.
Click here to read a MassGolfer feature on Oak Hill from 2011
Click here for Championship History