Southern Hills Country Club was founded by a group of rich local business during the Great Depression and they commissioned Perry Maxwell, a local Oklahoman, to design the course and it opened for play in 1935. The club is not far from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Southern Hills is a classic major championship layout in the same category as Winged Foot, Baltusrol, and Atlanta Athletic Club. These courses feature an excellent, if not unrelenting, test of golf skill for the best players in the world. Courses in this category have no non-sense designs that focus on the challenge more than they do creativity or aesthetics. As such the bunkering at Southern Hills is simple saucer shaped hazards, the greens are subtle in their design, and the tree lined fairways provide a distinct visual of where to hit the ball.
Historically Southern Hills has few rivals in terms of tournaments hosted or ranking among the various Top 100 lists that are published. If these types of courses and experiences are up your alley then Southern Hills will be among your favorites.
The classic Perry Maxwell design features tree lined fairways, rolling hills, and saucer shaped bunkers. A creek meanders through the property, mainly on the front nine, while a few water hazards come into play on the back nine including at the all-world par four 12th hole. The design epitomizes championship golf by featuring a variety of lengths and shapes of holes that will likely require utilizing every club in your bag throughout the round.
Many of the holes with shorter approach shots feature the most challenging greens and thus require more precision with your scoring clubs. The opening hole with views of downtown Tulsa and the uphill 9th hole playing towards the clubhouse are worthy of note to be sure, but the back nine is where Southern Hills truly shines with added character, variety, and enjoyment. Caddies are provided and carts are available during your round. You’ll also want to soak in the palatial clubhouse that is stock full of golf history.
The signature hole at Southern Hills Country Club
The 12th hole (458 Yard Par 4) at Southern Hills is a great test from tee to green. The tee shot plays to a raised fairway that is framed by trees on both sides before doglegging left. The fairway slopes from right to left towards a creek that runs up the side before cutting across the hole and to the right of the putting surface. The green is additionally protected by a trio of bunkers that start at the front left and work their way in a half-moon shape around to the back side of the putting surface. The approach shot plays over a creek to a slightly domed green that features tightly mown chipping areas around the front left bunker as well as the area leading to the water. It is easily the best hole on the property and one of the finest in the Midwest.
Southern Hills Country Club also offers a 9 hole golf course : the West course, designed by Ben Crenshaw in 1992.