The project would close and restore the Bloomfield Hills, Mich., club’s iconic South Course to its pre-World War II state, and would have closed the layout for 14 months beginning in March 2018. The project would have been financed through an increase in member dues over time. The vote total and margin were not disclosed.
An $11 million plan to close and restore the iconic South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., to its pre-World War II state was rejected in a membership vote that ended July 8, Crain’s Detroit Business reported.
“The vote to move forward on the South Course restoration project was not approved by a vote of the membership,” General Manager Chris Berlin said.
Under the plan, the private course would have been closed for 14 months beginning in March 2018 to remake it much more like the original links created by famed golf course architect Donald Ross, who designed the South Course. It opened in July 1918, Crain’s reported.
A vote total or margin wasn’t disclosed. Voting among the club’s 500-plus stock-owning members began June 20. They were informed of the restoration plan in the spring, and a series of informational meetings have been held by management to spell out details of the proposed project, Crain’s reported.
The project would have been financed through an increase in member dues over time rather than in an up-front lump sum. The South Course’s fairways would have been widened, bunkers redone, greens restored to their original configuration and resodded by deeper-root bentgrass. Some trees also would have been removed. It’s unclear what Oakland Hills’ management will do next to address concerns about the South Course and its playability, an ongoing member concern, Crain’s reported.
The proposed restoration would have undone some of the work done in 2006-07 by golf architect Rees Jones aimed at boosting the South Course’s difficulty prior to the 2008 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. It also would have reversed some of the renovations done by Jones’ father, Robert Trent Jones, who remodeled it before the 1951 U.S. Open. Oakland Hills itself in recent years has widened some fairways to improve playability for club members, but the full restoration would alleviate issues with too-steep bunkers and add up to 6 acres of landing space on fairways, Crain’s reported.
Oakland Hills in 2014 retained noted architects Hanse Golf Course Design from suburban Philadelphia to survey the South Course—golf icon Ben Hogan famously termed it “The Monster” after winning the 1951 U.S. Open there—to determine what should be done with it after nearly a century. Hanse was chosen over three other course designers, including Rees Jones, Crain’s reported.
The Scottish-born Ross famously said of Oakland Hills upon first visiting the site in 1916: “The Lord intended this for a golf course.”
Oakland Hills has hosted six U.S. Opens, and it also has hosted three PGA Championships, the 1929 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 1981 and 1991 U.S. Senior Opens, and the 2004 Ryder Cup matches, Crain’s reported.