The clubhouse at Oakland Hill Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, a Detroit suburb where several major tournaments have been held, caught fire early Thursday morning.
Flames licked the clubhouse roof at 10 a.m., and black smoke billowed.
After a fire broke out in the clubhouse attic, several departments were dispatched. The clubhouse, which opened in 1922, was filled with priceless golf tournament mementos and paintings from the previous century.
The roof eventually fell, and some hours after the fire started, one fire officer declared it “nearly a total loss.”
At a gathering of 47 friends and acquaintances at the Detroit Athletic Club in 1916, two Ford executives, Joseph Mack and Norval Hawkins, created Oakland Hills Country Club.
They opted on a total of 140 charter memberships, each costing $250.
The club’s first head professional was Walter Hagen, an 11-time major champion.
Donald Ross first visits the Oakland Hills property sometime between late October 1916 and late January 1917. “The Lord intended this for a golf course,” he says Joe Mack. “I rarely find a piece of property so well-suited for a golf course,” Ross says in his golf design commentary, Golf Has Never Failed Me. Around the 10th and 11th holes, he creates the South Course, which he will later describe the best consecutive par 4s he has ever built.
Six U.S. Opens, two U.S. Senior Opens, a U.S. Women’s Amateur, two U.S. Men’s Amateurs, and three PGA Championships have been held at the club since then, including the 90th PGA Championship in 2008. In addition, the club hosted the Western Open in 1922, the Carling World Open in 1964, and the 35th Ryder Cup in 2004.
Two top-rated golf courses can be found in Oakland Hills. The South Course, which debuted in 1918 and was designed by Donald Ross, is ranked No. 23 on Golfweek’s Best ranking of classic courses established before 1960 in the United States. The North Course at the club is ranked 196th on the list.
C. Howard Crane designed the clubhouse, which opened in 1922. It has been renovated multiple times.
The South Course, designed by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, was recently restored and will reopen in 2021, ready to host future major championships. In 2031 and 2042, the club will host the US Women’s Open.
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