Oakland Hills Country Club

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Oakland Hills Country Club
Club information
Location Bloomfield Township,
Oakland County, Michigan
Established 1916[1]
South Course: 1918[2]
North Course: 1923
(ready for play in 1924)[3]
Type Private
Total holes 36[4]
Website oaklandhillscc.com
South Course
Designed by Donald Ross[1][4]
Par

72 (70 for majors)

Par-5 holes 8 and 18 are reduced to par-4 for majors
Length 7,445 yards (6,808 m)[5]
Course rating 76.9[2]
North Course
Designed by Donald Ross[1][4]
Par 70
Length 6,660 yards (6,090 m)[6]
Course rating 72.9[3]

Oakland Hills Country Club is a private golf club in Bloomfield Township, Michigan. It consists of two 18-hole courses designed by Donald Ross: the South Course (1918) and the North Course (1923).

Oakland Hills has hosted many prestigious professional golf tournaments throughout its history, including six U.S. Opens and three PGA Championships, all but a single round of the 2002 U.S. Amateur on its South Course.

History[edit]

Tiger Woods during a practice round prior to the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills

In 1916, two Ford Motor Company executives, advertising head Joseph Mack and chief accountant and first sales manager Norval Hawkins, purchased a parcel of farmland on Maple Road – 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Detroit in Bloomfield Hills. Construction began in 1917 and Mack was elected as the first president of the club. When the South Course of Oakland Hills was formally opened on July 13, 1918, it enjoyed a certain degree of prestige thanks to its designer - Ross, the foremost golf course architect of his day – and its first club pro, U.S. Open champion Walter Hagen. The clubhouse was the Miller farmhouse on the North side of Maple Road and the old chicken coop served as Hagen's pro shop. One hundred-forty memberships were sold at $250 each.

The current clubhouse was completed and formally opened in August 1922 at a cost of $650,000 unfinished. The original structure had accommodations for 48 overnight guests, as it was not uncommon in that era for members to stay at the Club for weeks at a time. Modern roads and nearby motels obviated the need for overnight accommodations and the need for space to meet the needs of expanded membership saw the last rooms eliminated in a 1968 renovation.

A full social program was in effect more than fifty years ago, with informal dances every Wednesday and Saturday night. Hagen, who broke the barriers of social ostracism against golf professionals, attested to the friendly atmosphere that prevailed when he said that the treatment he had received at Oakland Hills had spoiled him and made him accustomed to being treated as any golfer, pro or amateur, should be. Guest play was most popular in the early days. In 1923 there was more guest play on our South Course than any other course in the Midwest.

Work on the North Course began in 1922, completed in late 1923, and ready for play in 1924. For the first several years it was operated as it is today, i.e., a second course for the members. During the depression, however, it became necessary to operate it as North Hills, a semi-private Club open for daily green fee play. It was redesigned by Robert Trent Jones and reestablished as a second private course for the members at the beginning of the 1969 season. The barrier which Maple Road presented between the two courses was effectively overcome by installation of the world's largest arched aluminum pedestrian bridge. The bridge connecting the two courses is 210 feet (64 m) long, 11 feet (3.4 m) wide, and weighs 40,000 pounds (18,000 kg). It was delivered to the site already assembled and erected in less than 2 1/2 hours early one morning.

The first major tournament hosted was the Western Open in 1922 which was won by host pro Mike Brady, who had succeeded Hagen, by ten strokes over runner-up Jock Hutchinson.

Two years later, in 1924, the club played host to the first of four U.S. Opens. This was won by Cyril Walker with a 297 total. Runner-up that year was Bobby Jones, the defending champion, at 300.

The Open returned to Oakland Hills again in 1937 when Ralph Guldahl, then a 24-year-old, won his first of two successive Opens with a 281 total. Two shots back in his oft-denied quest of an Open title was the great Sam Snead.

Although many tournaments have been held throughout the years at Oakland Hills, the one which gave the course its greatest reputation as "The Monster" was the 1951 Open. The result was a tournament in which only two subpar rounds were shot during the entire 72 hole affair. Ben Hogan won with a total of 287 by shooting a final round 67 after which he was quoted as saying "I am glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees." He also said that it was "the greatest test of golf I have ever played and the toughest course." Clayton Heafner who had a final round of 69, the only other sub-par of the tournament, finished second two strokes back. There was some comment after the last round of the tournament of the effect that the tee markers had been moved so far forward that last day as to take some of the fairway traps out of play. In any event, the natural result of this extremely difficult Open was that from that point on the USGA no longer permitted the host clubs to control the layout for an Open tournament.

The Club once again hosted the U.S. Open in 1961 when Gene Littler's 281 nosed out Doug Sanders and Bob Goalby by a single stroke. But for bad luck on two holes on the back nine of the closing round, a young amateur by the name of Jack Nicklaus might have won.

The next major tournament held at Oakland Hills was the 1964 Carling World Open which was won by Bobby Nichols whose 278 total beat out Arnold Palmer by a single stroke in an exciting finish.

Next in line of major championships hosted by Oakland Hills was the 1972 PGA Championship. The long range planning and unstinting efforts of volunteer members working on this tournament resulted in, what was to that time, the most successful tournament in PGA history. The tournament was won by Gary Player with a 281 total highlighted by an exciting, pressure-packed birdie on our world famous 16th hole. Tommy Aaron and Jim Jamieson tied for second.

In 1979, Oakland Hills once again hosted the PGA Championship. According to most golf experts, this Championship drew the largest gallery in the history of golf. Certainly, the three hole sudden-victory win by David Graham over Ben Crenshaw was one of the most exciting finishes in golf history. During this Championship, the "Monster" yielded a little to sub-par rounds occasioned by soft greens, low rough and some absolutely superb golf played by an extremely qualified field of top-flight golfers. Nine contestants finished the regulation 72 holes under par, with Graham and Crenshaw both finishing at 272, 8-under-par. In the suspenseful three-hole playoff, Graham sunk phenomenal putts on the first and second holes to stay alive and clenched his victory with a birdie on the third hole.

In 1981, the Club hosted the second annual U.S. Senior Open sponsored by the USGA. Many of the legends of golfing lore participated. The Championship was eventually won by Arnold Palmer in an 18-hole playoff with Billy Casper and Bob Stone.

In 1985, Oakland Hills became one of only three courses in the country to have hosted the U.S. Open five times. With many of the big names missing the cut, a relative unknown from Taiwan, T.C. Chen, found himself leading the field into the final round with the help of a rare double eagle on the second hole during the first round of play. While millions watched on television, Chen blew a four stroke lead with a quadruple bogey on the fifth hole primarily by hitting his ball twice on one approach shot. Despite a valiant effort on his part in a head to head duel with Andy North, the eventual winner, he was never able to recover from his disastrous experience on the fifth hole. In winning his second U.S. Open, North's 279 was the only sub-par total score for the Championship.

During the past few years, the Club has spent several million dollars in improvements, renovations, and additions to the Clubhouse and Club property. Very extensive renovations to the main Clubhouse were made in 1968 which resulted in the removal of the sleeping rooms and the building of a new ladies locker room on the North end of the second floor of the Club. Rooms for private parties were also added on the second floor, a new Mixed Grille was built on the second floor, a new pro-shop was built, and the Men's Grille was expanded and refurbished. A new pool and pool house opened in 1971. Additional tennis courts were added so that there are now six courts available to play. Paddle tennis courts were also added to accommodate the growing popularity of this sport. Before the opening of the 1974 season, the first floor of the Clubhouse was redecorated and a new half-way house was built on the South Course.

In 1976, both the downstairs and upstairs kitchens were completely remodeled and equipped to meet the demands of increased utilization by members of the Club's dining facilities.

In 1982, the Galleria was installed along the walls of the second floor hallway from the Mixed Grille to the Ladies Lounge and Locker area. Over 200 pictures of past tournaments as well as views of the early Clubhouse and grounds were hung.

Remodeling and expansion of the Men's Grille was completed in 1986. At this time major remodeling and decorating brought complete new looks in the Great Room, South Dining Room, Casino Bar as well as the Mixed Grille and Director's Room.

The 1991 U.S. Senior Open started with 37 amateurs and 119 professionals. Michigan's Mike Hill enjoyed the first day lead of 68. The second day of play showed the Monster's difficult greens and J. C. Snead took the lead with a 69. On Sunday, Chi-Chi Rodríguez and Jack Nicklaus tied on the 18th green with 282. With the playoff on Monday, and a two-hour rain delay, there was no way Rodríguez could stop a determined Nicklaus remembering his not making the cut in the 1985 Open here at OHCC, finished with 69 to Nicklaus' 65.

Oakland Hills celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1991. With this Diamond Jubilee, a coffee-table book of its history was printed. The members enjoyed a celebrity auction, fireworks after a candle-lit dinner and dancing to the music of Lester Lanin's New York Orchestra.

Members and guests were introduced to the "Walk of Champions" in 1993. Huge boulders, each 8–10 tons, containing commemorative plaques honoring twelve golfing greats, were installed along the first tee. Extra variegated stones will carry on future winners.

In 1996 the first extra "Stone" was used after the U.S. Open. This Open will long be remembered for Steve Jones winning with a par on the 18th green. Tom Lehman and Davis Love III tied for second. The Open will also be remembered for the storm, which washed out the 18th hole bunker. The grounds crew worked throughout the night draining water from many holes and reconstructed the damaged bunker in time for play on Thursday morning.

In January 1999, the club began a $16.25 million renovation project that included the Pro Shop, Bag Room, and remodeling and restoration of the clubhouse. The club reopened to the membership in May 2000 with a gala event more grand than the tremendous scope of the renovation. The club's effort furthers the long standing commitment the membership has to be effective stewards to what many feel is a national treasure.

Oakland Hills Country Club hosted the 2002 U.S. Amateur won by Ricky Barnes. It was considered to be the most successful U.S. Amateur ever conducted at the time. The club also hosted the 2004 Ryder Cup and the 2008 PGA Championship.

While being consistently rated in the top 25 courses in the world by various golf magazines, Oakland Hills is among the favorite courses of many golf legends. Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Raymond Floyd all rank Oakland Hills in their top 10 courses in the U.S.

Oakland Hills was recently selected as the site for the 2016 U.S. Amateur.

Major tournaments hosted[edit]

Year Tournament Winner Winner's
share ($)
1922 Western Open United States Mike Brady
1924 U.S. Open United States Cyril Walker 500
1937 U.S. Open United States Ralph Guldahl 1,000
1951 U.S. Open United States Ben Hogan 4,000
1961 U.S. Open United States Gene Littler 14,000
1972 PGA Championship South Africa Gary Player 45,000
1979 PGA Championship Australia David Graham 60,000
1981 U.S. Senior Open United States Arnold Palmer 26,000
1985 U.S. Open United States Andy North 103,000
1991 U.S. Senior Open United States Jack Nicklaus 110,000
1996 U.S. Open United States Steve Jones 425,000
2002 U.S. Amateur United States Ricky Barnes 0
2004 Ryder Cup European Union Team Europe 0
2008 PGA Championship Republic of Ireland Pádraig Harrington 1,350,000

Bolded years are major championships on the PGA Tour.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°32′41″N 83°16′15″W / 42.54472°N 83.27083°W / 42.54472; -83.27083