PGA Championship and the Oak Hill ghost


The 105th PGA Championship is underway at the Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.

Oak Hill Ghost, story

The course, originally designed by Donald Ross, has hosted 11 championships (with the current edition of the PGA Championship the count rises to 12), both amateur and professional, and the Ryder Cup (1995 edition, won by Team Europe led by Bernard Gallacher).

The field of participants also includes LIV players (on the occasion of the Majors the “war” is temporarily suspended).

But in Oak Hill there is someone who could steal the show from the professionals.

William Frederick Cody, better known as “Buffalo Bill”.

What does this American frontier folk hero have to do with a Major?

Oak Hill Country Club was founded in 1901.

Before that, the lands on which the circle’s two routes now span, West and East, were areas where Rochester residents went to hunt and fish.

Tradition has it that one of them was “Buffalo Bill” Cody, who over time developed a strong bond with the city (as evidenced by the fact that three of his children are buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery, the local cemetery).

In a 1989 book, written by Donald Kladstrup, historian of the club at the time, the story of the ghost of Oak Hill, namely that of Buffalo Bill, appears for the first time.

“Walking along the fairway of the 7th hole (of the East Course, NDR) on a warm summer night… they say you can see, huddled on the bank of the creek, the silhouette of a fisherman”

“Looking closer, one can recognize the elegant, large hat, the flowing mustache, and even the boots”

“That’s Buffalo Bill, they say.”

The only one who can shed light on the mystery is the current historian of the club, Fred Beltz, Kladstrup’s successor.

“Buffalo Bill’s story is true, if a little fanciful”

“At the time of his visits to Rochester, the Oak Hill estate was practically uninhabited and was an ideal area for hunting and fishing, but whether or not Buffalo Bill came here to hunt is not known or, at least, not it is known to me”.

Beltz has lived in Rochester since the 1970s, and has been a partner at Oak Hill since 1995.

Since then she has never heard of anyone having “met” Buffalo Bill.

Beltz also states that among the more than a thousand members of the club, perhaps a dozen or so have heard this story, and he is of the opinion that, perhaps, his predecessor has put a little of himself into it to make it more fascinating.


Don’t look for Buffalo Bill’s name in the tee-times…

You must be logged in to post a comment Login