BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A devastating fire swept through the century-old clubhouse Thursday at Oakland Hills Country Club, the suburban Detroit 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.
“We have lost our iconic clubhouse,” club president Rick Palmer said.
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.
“It’s hard to talk when you’re crying,” Greg Kampe, the men’s basketball coach at Oakland University and a longtime club member, told The Detroit News.
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.
Palmer thanked firefighters who saved some priceless memorabilia during a “gut-wrenching day.”
“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,” he said.
The club has two courses. The more famous South course recently underwent a $12 million renovation project with hopes of landing more majors. It recently was awarded 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.