U.S. Open, golfs toughest tournament, finally will return to Oakland Hills – Detroit News

U.S. Open, golfs toughest tournament, finally will return to Oakland Hills – Detroit News
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Detroit — The Monster has been awoken.

Oakland Hills Country Club has been awarded arguably golf’s most prestigious tournament, and certainly its toughest, the U.S. Open, for 2034 and 2051, the United States Golf Association announced Tuesday at a luncheon at the Detroit Athletic Club. Oakland Hills couldn’t host the lunch following last month’s massive fire.

John Bodenhamer, USGA chief championships officer, made the announcement. He was joined at the announcement by Andy North, two-time U.S. Open champion who won one of those at Oakland Hills at 1985; and Gil Hanse, the architect who oversaw the recent $12.1 million restoration of the famed South Course. It was those renovations that put Oakland Hills back on the map with the USGA.

USGA chief championships officer John Bodenhamer speaks during a press conference at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Oakland Hills has hosted six U.S. Opens, but the last was in 1996. It has since hosted PGA of America events, including the 2004 Ryder Cup and 2008 PGA Championship.

But the bond with the USGA is clearly back and stronger than ever. In January, Oakland Hills was awarded the U.S. Women’s Open for 2031 and 2042 — a strong hint this day was coming, as the USGA has recently been awarding historic clubs, “cathedrals of golf” per the USGA, both the men’s and women’s U.S. Open.

The USGA also will award Oakland Hills four high-profile amateur tournaments — the 2024 U.S. Junior Amateur, 2029 U.S. Women’s Amateur, 2038 U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur and 2047 U.S. Amateur.

“This is a significant and meaningful day for all of us at Oakland Hills,” Rick Palmer, Oakland Hills club president, said in a statement. “We can’t wait to add to our storied history.”

Oakland Hills’ South Course was closed for the entire 2020 season and the early part of 2021 as Hanse and his crew restored it closer to what original architect Donald Ross unveiled in the early 20th century. Bunkers and greens were expanded, and a state-of-the-art weather system was installed under each of the greens, making it easier to play in and recover quickly from inclement weather. Also, dozens of trees were removed from the course, creating stunning views of the entire property — including views of the stately, pillared clubhouse from almost any point on the grounds.

That 90,000-square-foot clubhouse, built 100 years ago and modeled after George Washington’s Mount Vernon, was destroyed in a devastating fire last month. A fire started during construction work on a patio, and quickly spread, causing a total loss that will force the club to completely rebuild. (Members and firefighters were able to save many key artifacts, including trophies.) Club membership plans to build a replica of the historic clubhouse; that could open in 2024, and cost more than $50 million.

Among the outpouring of support from the golf community were USGA officials, who offered any assistance that was needed and assured Oakland Hills the fire would have no impact on future major championships.

Oakland Hills has hosted more than a dozen major championships, starting with the 1924 U.S. Open. Its roster of champions includes Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Padraig Harrington and Ben Hogan, who famously quipped he “brought this course — this Monster — to its knees” after winning the 1951 U.S. Open (and $4,000!), finishing at 7 over par.

“We could not be happier to bring six additional championships to such an iconic venue as Oakland Hills,” Bodenhamer said. “Since its first U.S. Open in 1924, Oakland Hills has provided a supreme test for the game’s very best, and it will continue to do so for professionals and amateurs alike in the coming years.”

Check back to detroitnews.com for more on this developing story.

Big tournaments at Oakland Hills

►1922 Western Open (Mike Davis)

►1924 U.S. Open (Cyril Walker)

►1929 U.S. Women’s Amateur (Glenna Collett)

►1937 U.S. Open (Ralph Guldahl)

►1951 U.S. Open (Ben Hogan)

►1961 U.S. Open (Gene Littler)

►1972 PGA Championship (Gary Player)

►1979 PGA Championship (David Graham)

►1981 U.S. Senior Open (Arnold Palmer)

►1985 U.S. Open (Andy North)

►1991 U.S. Senior Open (Jack Nicklaus)

►1996 U.S. Open (Steve Jones)

►2002 U.S. Amateur (Ricky Barnes)

►2004 Ryder Cup (Europe)

►2008 PGA Championship (Padraig Harrington)

►2016 U.S. Amateur (Curtis Luck)

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tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984