June 25, 2021 By: Richard Humphreys — Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, will reopen its South course in early July following a restoration by Gil Hanse.
The South has hosted six US Opens, three PGA Championships, the 2004 Ryder Cup, and many more tournaments since opening in 1918 to a design from Donald Ross, who also designed the club’s North course that opened in 1924.
Hanse, along with partner Jim Wagner and on-site coordinator Kye Goalby, reviewed original plans and photographs as well as a programme from the 1929 US Women’s Amateur to guide restoration plans, with construction beginning in October 2019.
“Restoring the South course at Oakland Hills was a masterclass in scale from architect Donald Ross,” said Hanse. “By returning the proportions of the features to the large scale of the property, we learned so much about how to create interest, strategy, and beauty. This was a truly thrilling project for us to be involved in and we are excited about the transformation that has occurred.”
All 18 greens have been rebuilt to USGA specification with expansions and modifications made to the original Ross design, as well as the installation of a PrecisionAire system to control moisture and temperature.
Original bunkering, course widths and angles have been restored. State-of-the-art drainage has been installed, irrigation systems upgraded, with tree removal opening up original vistas of the course and the clubhouse.
Hanse and the team have also restored the original location of the seventh green as well as the original size of the creek, which bisects this par four.
“Oakland Hills is proud to reopen the South course after a masterful restoration by Gil Hanse,” said club president Michael Dietz. “Our Donald Ross classic has been transformed into a contemporary course that will challenge and delight our membership while hopefully continuing our rich tradition of hosting championship golf at Oakland Hills.”