Tee Off At The PGA Championship in Rochester

8 August 2013

When the calendar flips to August and a late summer breeze rustles the trees along Rochester's quiet streets, you could be forgiven for thinking not much happens in this unassuming upstate New York town.

Yet, every so often the low rumble of footsteps echoes through Rochester's bucolic surrounds and a horde of travellers descends on the town to enjoy one of the most celebrated events on the international sporting calendar.

The PGA Championship – sometimes referred to as the US PGA and which takes place at a different venue each year – is widely considered one of the toughest majors to win in golf. The world's Top 100 players routinely compete and this year, they'll do so at the famous Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester.

 The Historic Oak Hill Country Club

"Made For Living"

Rochester's motto is the self-explanatory "Made For Living," and with its picturesque setting close to the shores of Lake Ontario and boasting a compact cityscape bisected by the Genesee River, it's not hard to see why thousands of visitors make the trip upstate to this one-time industrial town each year.

Rochester is the birthplace of George Eastman – founder of the Kodak photographic company – and today the fully restored George Eastman House is the world's oldest museum dedicated exclusively to photography, cementing its reputation as one of Rochester's most popular tourist sites.

However, Rochester's most famous attraction is arguably the championship East Course at the historic Oak Hill Country Club, which this week holds the honour of hosting its third PGA Championship.

Long-standing roots

Founded in 1901 at the start of a boom era for the sport, the Oak Hill Country Club moved to its current location in the southeast suburb of Pittsford in 1921. Boasting two expansive 18-hole courses and a stately Tudor-inspired clubhouse, it's the more than 75,000 oak trees planted by prominent early member Dr John Williams which gives Oak Hill its dramatic tree-lined vistas.

The course has provided the backdrop for some of world golf's most historic moments, including three US Open championships and Europe's gripping come-from-behind 1995 Ryder Cup triumph. It first hosted the PGA Championship in 1980 when the legendary Jack Nicklaus cruised to victory, before unheralded Shaun Micheel caused one of the greatest upsets in golf when he claimed a stunning 2003 PGA Championship crown.

Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy is the reigning title holder after he blitzed the field in the final round at Kiawah Island in South Carolina – surpassing Nicklaus' previous record winning margin in the process – and he'll be looking to fend off the likes of four-time winner Tiger Woods, 2011 champion Keegan Bradley and Australian hopefuls Adam Scott and Jason Day in this year's competition.

 The PGA Championship Trophy

A flurry of footsteps

The sound of footsteps pounding Rochester's picturesque pavements becomes a roar when a major tournament is in town and not surprisingly, tickets for this week's tournament are all but sold out.

That means thousands of fans will make the journey to New York State's third-largest city for one of golf's genuine showpiece events and while Rochester has a reputation for being somewhat of a quiet mid-sized city, there's still plenty to do once the sun sets on the famous Oak Hill fairways – particularly where sport is concerned.

The Rochester Red Wings are one of minor league baseball's most storied outfits, playing their home games out of a Frontier Field home which boasts panoramic views over the Rochester city skyline. Equally popular are the Rochester Americans ice hockey team, making a town more famous for photography an unexpectedly welcoming destination for sports lovers from across the globe.

Mike Tuckerman

From Europe to Asia and many places in between, there's rarely a town or city I've not enjoyed exploring. When I'm not wandering the streets and discovering new destinations, you can usually find me hanging out with the locals at major sporting events.