Big changes are coming to Oakland Hills Country Club’s legendary South Course. A decade after Padraig Harrington won the 2008 PGA Championship there, the nine-time major championship venue is undergoing a “massive renovation,” according to the Detroit News, and will close for the better part of two years.
The Bloomfield Township course, originally designed by Donald Ross in 1916, will close in the fall of 2019 and reopen in the spring of 2021, club officials informed the membership in a letter. Still, this wasn’t a hostile takeover: club officials reported the decision was made with the “overwhelming support of the membership.”
Gil Hanse will take the architectural lead on the project, which has several stated goals, including rebuilt green complexes (allowing for more pinnable area), reworked bunkering (for more risk-reward options), more length (pushing the championship tees to 7500 yards) and new green subsurfaces (for better drainage).
Officials hope the changes will allow for a longer golf season and will put them in the running for to host a major championship in the near future.
“Gil Hanse’s design will keep the Oakland Hills South Course among the most revered golf venues in the world,” head pro Steve Brady told the News.
Hanse has been seemingly everywhere the last few years, overseeing construction on the Olympic Course in Rio de Janeiro as well as original designs, renovations and restorations across North America. He has plenty of experience with Ross courses, too: He has handled or (is currently doing so) restorations at 11 Ross designs including Plainfield Country Club, Country Club of Rochester and Aronimink. He currently has projects underway at a host of top courses including Merion, Fishers Island, Pinehurst and Burning Tree.
Robert Trent Jones and Rees Jones have overseen prior renovations to the course.