Aiming to host majors again, Oakland Hills shows off progress on $12.1 million course project

Oakland Hills 2020
Posted at 8:11 PM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 20:13:33-04

BLOOMFIELD TWP., Mich. — Oakland Hills Country Club is working to host major golf tournaments again, and is ready to start showing off the work being done.

The historic Bloomfield Township golf club is undergoing a $12.1 million course restoration project.

Course architect Gil Hanse is leading the project, as members aim to host a major for the first time since the 2008 PGA Championship. Hanse's team removed 137 trees, removed bunkers, but most importantly, added an irrigation system to control the moisture of the greens.

“In the Midwest, this will now probably be the place to be," head pro Steve Brady said. "No offense to Oakmont, Medinah, all those other places."

Oakland Hills last hosted a US Open in 1996. In 2004, the club worked with the PGA of America to bring the Ryder Cup to Michigan, and the 2008 PGA Championship followed. The USGA's next open date for a US Open is 2028.

The big question leading all of this: Will this project help the club score an overdue major?

"If I was a betting man, I would say, 'Yeah.' I mean, if I was a betting man, sure," Brady said. "Do I know that for sure? No. Nobody knows yet, but we're doing the best we can to present a good product."

Hanse, Brady, and Mike Tirico led a Q&A session with reporters on Monday. They updated the progress on the South Course project, aimed at restoring the original elements and design of Donald Ross when the course opened over 100 years ago.

"This place is going to continue to be the crown jewel of golf in a great golf state," Tirico said.

History is on the side of Oakland Hills, and this evolution of the course can only help its chances to land a major.

That's the hope, at least.

"What’s their criteria?" Brady asked of the USGA. "Is it 10 that they need? We’ve got 11 now. The history: Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan all won here."

The South course shut down in 2019. It won't open until the summer of 2021. Hanse designed the course for the 2016 Olympic games. He was sporting a Rio 2016 belt on Monday, and talked about the challenges of trying to grab the attention of the USGA and PGA in this era of big-hitters.

"We're trying to cover all of our bases, and I think when you've got a great historic venue that's been modernized to the point that it can host a major championship and everything that goes along with it in this day in age, and also be a significant challenge to those types of players, it should be an attractive option," Hanse told WXYZ.

Oakland Hills has hosted six total US Open championships. In 2016, it hosted the US Amateur. There's no major planned at the course - at least for now.