Steve Stricker beat Padraig Harrington on the first hole of a playoff in the Senior PGA Championship on Sunday.
Fire devastates iconic Oakland Hills CC clubhouse
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A devastating fire Thursday swept through the iconic clubhouse at Oakland Hills Country Club, the suburban Detroit golf course that housed artifacts of some of golf’s biggest stars and the championships they won there.
Flames ripped through the roof at the sprawling, multi-story clubhouse. It was built in 1922 and housed irreplaceable memorabilia and art from the nine major championships and the Ryder Cup that Oakland Hills has hosted over nearly a century.
No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known. Fire officials said the 110,000-square-foot clubhouse was among the largest wood structures in Michigan.
Firefighters on the scene told reporters that they were instructed where some of the historic memorabilia was located inside the clubhouse and were able to save some of it. They don’t know what was saved and what wasn’t, but some of the memorabilia inside the clubhouse included Ryder Cup trophies, PGA Championship trophies and other significant pieces.
“This is a gut-wrenching day for Oakland Hills,” club president Rick Palmer said in a statement. “While we know that no one from the membership or staff was hurt, we have lost our iconic clubhouse, that housed our history and our place in Michigan and U.S. and international golf.
“Oakland Hills is tremendously grateful to firefighters who were diligent in helping save some of our priceless pieces of memorabilia. It hurts to see this, but we are comforted to know that the heart and soul and legacy of the club resides in our membership and staff. Only time will tell what is next, but we will move forward with a purpose to honor all those who made this grand building come to life with their golf and their work.”
Oakland Hills opened in 1916 and has hosted six U.S. Opens — only two other courses have held it more times. The most famous was in 1951 when Ben Hogan won and later proclaimed, “I’m glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees.” The “monster” became the moniker for Oakland Hills over the years.
Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer won the U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills. Gary Player won the 1972 PGA Championship. Europe won the Ryder Cup there in 2004, and Padraig Harrington became the first Irishman to win the PGA Championship in 2018.
It also hosted two U.S. Amateurs, most recently in 2016.
“My first thought is the history of the club,” said ESPN golf analyst Andy North, who won the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills. “Buildings can be rebuilt, but you can’t rebuild the memorabilia that they might have lost. That building is a huge part of our golf history with the displays of the champions and the championships they’ve had. They will rebuild a great new clubhouse, but they can’t rebuild all those things they’ve lost. It’s unbelievable.”
The club has two golf courses designed by Donald Ross. The South Course reopened last summer following a $12.1 million restoration by Gil Hanse with a goal to bring major championships back to Oakland Hills.
“This is a truly sad day for the history of American golf,” Hanse said in a statement.
The club will host the U.S. Women’s Open in 2031 and 2042.
“Our thoughts are with our friends at Oakland Hills. … We will support the club wherever possible in this rebuilding process,” said John Bodenhamer, chief championships officer at the United States Golf Association.
ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren and The Associated Press contributed to this report.