My original plan wasn’t to play 36 holes on Sunday. I really wanted to play Canaan Valley in the afternoon and couldn’t find many courses close enough for a morning round, since Canaan Valley was about an hour from all of them. Oakland GC was bargain priced because of the off-season ($25 with cart) and in the end, I couldn’t resist the chance to play a new course!
I got there about 8:30am and was told that there was going to be a frost delay. It wasn’t a busy morning so I decided to wait it out and teed off at 10am, following another single for most of the front nine. I skipped around on the back nine and played in 2 hours 45 minutes which left me just enough time to get to Canaan Valley. I’ll add that the proshop did a great job of keeping everyone informed about the frost delay!
Oakland GC is an older course, which dates back to the 1930’s, and maxes out at less than 6400 yards (6360 to be exact). It is a par 71, but it has five par 5’s and six par 3’s which makes it a bit unique. For reference, I played the those back tees which have a 71.1 rating and 132 slope. The course is really a tale of two nines. The course was originally designed as 9-hole course and that original design is currently the shorter, back nine. The front nine was added later and has a more modern, larger feel to it.
The course is in a small valley just outside of town and considering its location, felt pretty secluded. The front nine has more elevation change, larger fairways/greens, some doglegs, and a few ponds. The back nine has a noticeably different feel to it! I’m not saying that’s bad though and it certainly isn’t uncommon on courses that were built at different times. Everything on the back is small and offers an idea of what the game was like nearly a century ago when land was difficult to move, maintenance required more work, and the ball didn’t travel as far. The back nine features a compact routing with narrower fairways, tiny greens (almost temporary size), and small bunkers. There is less strategy needed on the back, just hit accurate approaches and chip/putt well.
Besides the greens, the conditions weren’t too good. The tees and fairways were long so I couldn’t spin the ball, leaves were all over the place which made finding the ball tough, and I had lots of inconsistent lies. I’d expect the course to be in better shape during peak season, but if someone is looking for a course where every blade of grass is in place I’d wager to say to that Oakland GC isn’t going to be that course, even at a better time of year. I wasn’t expecting much as far as conditions go so all that wasn’t a huge surprise. The greens, however, were fantastic! They rolled smooth and started getting very quick when they dried out towards the end of my round.
The course has its quirks with the two different nines and is by no means a destination course. But if someone is in town with the sticks and cannot travel too far, then I’d recommend it. I actually don’t there are too many other choices. For the most part, I found Oakland GC to be a player friendly course with some space for crooked shots and plenty of short par 4’s on which to score. Another thing I enjoyed is that the surroundings reminded me of the Pacific Northwest.
#1 (357 yard par 4):
The 1st is a downhill, dogleg left par 4. It isn’t the longest hole so driver isn’t needed. A draw is the best shot shape off the tee and the narrowing fairway starts to downslope around 150 yards into the green. The approach plays about a club downhill into one of the smaller greens on the front nine. A possible downhill lie from the fairway and shaping it off the tee are going to be the challenges, especially so early in the round.
#2 (554 yard par 5):
The 2nd is a long, straightaway par 5. There is some water in play to the right off the tee, but you’ll have to really fan one to get worried. The most important thing to know about the hole is that the fairway slopes from left to right. That means the ideal drive and layup should land on the left side of the fairway. Playing it down the cart path wouldn’t be a bad idea! I think the toughest thing is going to be keeping the layup in the fairway and the uneven lie with a short iron. The green slopes from back to front.
#3 (201 yard par 3):
The 3rd is the first, and longest, of six par 3’s! The best shot shape is probably determined by the pin location, but playing deep into the large green would be a good idea (to avoid the two bunkers short). There is a bank left of the green that can kick shots right, which is what happened to my ball. You can make a par with your short game so it doesn’t have to be a perfect long iron.
#4 (527 yard par 5):
The 4th plays from an elevated tee through a chute of trees and could be reachable in two by the longer hitters. The fairway is wide, but there is water in play to the left depending on how far someone drives it. The water is definitely is play on a layup and someone will have to decide to layup out to the right or carry it. A creek cuts across 40 or 50 yards short of the green which can affect play too. There are a couple decisions that have to be made here!
#5 (593 yard par 5):
The 5th is the longest par 5 on the course and the #1 handicap. The tee shot plays slightly downhill to a right to left sloping fairway before the third plays uphill to the green, about a club. The layup should be short of or left of the two fairway bunkers in my picture. Missing a bit long isn’t bad because there is a bank and some room to chip, at least to a front or middle flag.
#6 (190 yard par 3):
The 6th is another long par 3 where it is best to carry the ball at least to the front edge (to avoid bunkers short). I’d avoid the right side too as that falls away towards the 5th.
#7 (365 yard par 4):
The 7th is a short par 4 that could be a good birdie or par chance! Out of bounds is to the left, where the tees point you, so be careful not to mess with that side of the hole. The right half the fairway falls to the right so a quality drive is needed, although driver isn’t. My approach was semi-blind into a green, guarded by two bunkers, that gradually slopes from back to front.
#8 (400 yard par 4):
The 8th is the #3 handicap, but it played as the toughest hole for me because I like to play a fade. It is a dogleg left with lost ball trouble (on the left) all the way to the green. But, the fairway slopes to the right with the hillside so that means a draw is the best play off the tee! The approach plays uphill at least a club and because of that I could only see the top of the flag stick. The green is fairly wide, but protected by a bunker smack dab in the middle of the fairway (short of the green), making it an extra long carry to the green.
#9 (177 yard par 3):
The 9th is a mid-length par 3 where the difficultly is probably determined by the pin location. With that center flag I was thinking about sticking my 5 iron close, but if the pin was tucked on the right corner of the green then it becomes tougher to access over the bunker. It is a wide green and that right half isn’t as deep as the left.
#10 (226 yard par 3):
I think the 10th is a brilliant par 3! Some may think it is too difficult considering its long yardage and tiny green, but its memorable no matter what! I generally don’t like a long par 3 with a small green, but there can be some strategy as it can be a simple up and down if missing in the fairway short and left of the green. You might not even want to try to put it on the green, especially if you aren’t sure of the how the drop affects the yardage! I estimate it is about a club and a half less. Trees surround the back of the green and a bunker is off to the right, you want nothing to do with those.
#11 (433 yard par 4):
The 11th is a long par 4 and the #2 handicap. It is straightaway and there shouldn’t be any trouble, just a small creek way right, until getting to the small green. The green is protected by trees, has bunkers on multiple sides, and falls off on most sides. Playing from the fairway short of the green is the best spot!
#12 (553 yard par 5):
The 12th is going to be a three shot hole for most, but it is the start of some good scoring holes. The tee shot isn’t difficult because the fairway is wide, but it continues to narrow all the way up to the green. Trees to the left and the creek to the right pinch the layup making it the most important shot. I was on the left side of the fairway and had to try shaping a draw into the green to avoid an overhanging tree short of the green. Therefore I’d suggest laying up to the right side of the fairway, but that brings the creek into play!
#13 (150 yard par 3):
The 13th was only playing about 100 yards when I was there, but I still had my hands full. It would be extra tricky if it was playing its normal yardage! It is an uphill par 3 with a green cut from the hillside. Like all the greens on the back it is small, but it angles from front left to back right and there is a back tier. The green’s surface cannot be seen from the tee either. It is a tiny target!
#14 (505 yard par 5):
The 14th is the last, and shortest, par 5 at Oakland GC. The tee shot is blind so I decided to aim in-between those two orange trees in the center of the picture. That turned out to be the perfect line as that’s where the fairway is, but you probably will want to plan for a bounce left once the ball lands. There is some rough to the right (of the right tree) so someone should be able to track down a drive over there. After a good drive the green could be reachable and the ball can be chased on with a long club. If laying up then the draw lie can affect shots. The green slopes from back to front and I actually putted it off the front edge!
#15 (293 yard par 4):
The 15th is the shortest par 4 and the easiest hole on the course! Even though it is short, it probably is just going to be a layup off the tee for all but the longest hitters. A pond cuts across the fairway (short of the green) meaning that it would require a big carry to clear it, probably 240+ yards. I’d check a GPS for the exact yardage though. If someone can clear that then it would leave an easy chip. If laying up then you don’t want to be inside 100 yards as that brings the water into play. Try to knock it close here!
#16 (318 yard par 4):
The 16th is another short, easy par 4. First, the fairway is massive so anything you hit off the tee has a good chance of finding the short grass! Second, there are a couple options off the tee. You can layup to your favorite short iron yardage or try to drive the ball down close to a creek that is short of the green. That would leave a short pitch over the creek and onto the green. Like most greens on the back, it is small and bunkers are on both sides and over the back.
#17 (183 yard par 3):
The 17th is a bit like the 10th in the fact that it is longer and has a tiny green! It looks like a chipping green, not one where you’d a hit a mid, or even long iron, into! Short is the best play to avoid the bunkers and trees around the green.
#18 (335 yard par 4):
The 18th is a tricky closing hole. It plays uphill with the green off to the left. The fairway really starts to upslope and fall left with 120 yards to go. Laying up might leave a more manageable stance, but it is still possible to get an uncomfortable hook lie. There is also a small hazard off to the left and right around that 120 yard mark too. The approach plays into a blind green and I’d favor the right half of it.