The clubhouse at Oakland Hill Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, a suburb of Detroit — and site of numerous major championships — caught fire Thursday morning.
At about 10 a.m., flames licked the clubhouse roof as black smoke billowed.
Several departments responded after the fire broke out in the clubhouse attic. The clubhouse, which was completed in 1922, was adorned with irreplaceable golf tournament memorabilia and art going back a century.
Much of it likely will be lost in the fire or badly damaged. Early reports indicate the fire will destroy the central part of the building.
Oakland Hills Country Club was founded in 1916 by Joseph Mack and Norval Hawkins, two Ford executives, at a meeting of 47 friends and associates at the Detroit Athletic Club.
They decided there would be 140 charter memberships at a cost of $250 apiece.
Walter Hagen, an 11-time major winner, was the club’s first head professional.
Sometime between late October, 1916 and late January, 1917 Donald Ross first visits the Oakland Hills property. He tells Joe Mack, “The Lord intended this for a golf course.” In his commentaries on golf architecture, Golf Has Never Failed Me, Ross comments: “I rarely find a piece of property so well-suited for a golf course.” He designs the South Course around the 10th and 11th holes – holes he will later call the finest consecutive par 4s he has ever designed.
Since then, the club has hosted to 14 golf majors or USGA championships, including 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 — including the 90th PGA Championship in 2008. The club has also hosted the 1922 Western Open, the 1964 Carling World Open, and the 35th Ryder Cup, in 2004.
Oakland Hills is home to two highly rated golf courses. The South Course, designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1918, ties for No. 23 on Golfweek’s Best ranking of classic courses built before 1960 in the U.S. The club’s North Course ties for No. 196 on that list.
The clubhouse was designed by C. Howard Crane and opened in 1922. It has undergone several renovations.
The South Course was recently renovated by architects Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, reopening in 2021 and poised to host more major championships.