NAPLES, FLORIDA – When the European Ryder Cup team defeated the United States, 18 12-9 12, in Oakland Hills, Michigan, Bernhard Langer was the captain. Padraig Harrington was a member of that squad, and in 2008, he won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.
The news of the fire that destroyed the renowned clubhouse, as well as some of the memorabilia within, hit hard on Thursday.
“The most important thing is that no one was hurt,” Harrington said. “Clearly, they have the ability to renovate the clubhouse.”
“It was heartbreaking to witness,” Langer remarked on Friday. “I mean, it’s always heartbreaking to see something burn down because it seems like such a waste, a calamity, and a tragedy.” At the very least, no one was killed, but I assume there was a lot of memorabilia in the clubhouse. I know they have some of my things, and some of it is irreplaceable.
“So that’ll be gone, along with a lot of history.”
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.
Six US Opens have been held in Oakland Hills. Only two other courses have welcomed a larger number of people. The U.S. Women’s Open was recently given to it in 2031 and 2042.
After being directed where the memorabilia was by club officials, firefighters were supposedly able to save some of it.
“And even if it’s memorabilia, it can be replaced — it can’t, but it can,” Harrington remarked. “It’s startling and horrifying, but it’s not tragic.” At the end of the day, tragedy means someone died, and we can go on.
“They’ll rebuild bigger and better,” says the narrator.
When it happens, Harrington is pleased to provide even more to the club.
“I’m sure there are a lot of individuals like me who have fond recollections of the place and would be happy to donate again,” Harrington added.