When the golfers arrived and saw what the Fazios had done to the course, they started howling. They didn't like the new 5th and 6th holes, a narrow and brutal par-4 and a dangerous par-3, respectively. And they didn't like the new 15th, a demanding par-3, any more than the new 18th, which had become a more rugged par-4. They didn't like the way water hazards had been brought more directly into play, and they didn't like the shape of the greens, which were supposed to keep golf balls as far away from the pins as Toronto. And because Oak Hill was originally a Donald Ross course, and Ross is the Michelangelo of golf architects, the players yelped even louder.
Tom Weiskopf, a legendary howler, said, "I'm going to start an organization called the Classic Golf Course Preservation Society. Members get to carry loaded guns in case they see anybody touching a Donald Ross course."
Tom Watson, who solved Oak Hill only in the last round with a 67 that drew him into a tie for 10th place, said, "I don't think it's asking too much for a green to have a landing area where a good golf shot can get closer than 30 feet to the flag."
And Trevino, who had conquered the old Oak Hill and had his fond memories erased by the changes, said after finishing in seventh place at 285, "I just feel sorry for the members. They have to play Oak Hill all year long."
What happened was this: Oak Hill wanted to get itself back into the rotation for future U.S. Opens, and the USGA—recalling Trevino's record 275—had expressed the opinion that perhaps the course was no longer tough enough. So the Fazios were called in. Some of their doctoring was for increased difficulty and some was for better crowd control, or so said Tom Fazio. Oak Hill had the '80 PGA coming up, and had entered the bidding for the 1986 Open.
That being the case, one has to wonder whether Nicklaus' exploits have knocked Oak Hill out of any future majors. His 274 not only leveled the field, but it also represented a TKO over the Fazios, although Nicklaus did bogey their new 5th hole three times in the process of leaving Andy Bean, the runner-up, so many strokes in the distance he might as well have been Tom Fazio standing on the Oak Hill veranda.
But the answer to that question is: probably not. Oak Hill is still an unyielding golf course, one that only Jack Nicklaus could defeat. After all, no other player broke par of 280. And Nicklaus' scores were as much the result of his having a good week on the greens as they were of his shotmaking.
The only time Oak Hill really traded blows with Nicklaus was in Saturday's third round, although for 14 holes it appeared that he might shoot something like the astonishing 63 he had scored in the opening round at Baltusrol. He had made seven birdies and was six under par on the round and well on his way to taking the tournament away from the chaps who had led earlier, Craig Stadler after 18 and Gil Morgan after 36, not to forget his only serious pursuers, Bean and Lon Hinkle. "Jack was playing in a different world," Hinkle said.
But Saturday was the day Jack only played 14 holes. He three-putted the 15th, then briefly lost communication with his tee ball. A dive-bomb hook almost sent him out of bounds on the par-4 16th—his ball caromed off a fence and luckily stayed in play—and his second shot landed in a greenside trap, but he salvaged a par with a good putt. Another wild tee shot at 17 put him in position for an inescapable bogey. And still another poor tee shot on 18 might have meant another bogey, but his putter saved him again. Despite all this, Nicklaus shot a 66, the low round of the tournament.
Jack's lapse, however, enabled Hinkle, who birdied the 15th and 17th, to make up four strokes in the last four holes, and it left Nicklaus with only a three-shot lead over Hinkle going into Sunday.