Oakland Hills (South) - Michigan - USA

Oakland Hills Country Club,
Bloomfield Hills,
Michigan (MI) 48301,
USA


  • +1 248 433 0671

  • Chris Berlin

  • Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones, Rees Jones

  • Pat Croswell


Oakland Hills Country Club played host to the 2004 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Europe. Team Captains were Hal Sutton (US) and Bernhard Langer (Europe). The 35th Ryder Cup was the most one-sided contest for a number of years. Europe led America by 11-5 going into Sunday’s singles and when Sergio Gargia rallied to beat reigning Masters Champion Phil Mickelson 3 and 2, the writing was on the wall for the home team. Colin Montgomerie secured the winning point against David Toms but the entire European team played their part in achieving a record-breaking victory, which included rookies Thomas Levet and Ian Poulter scoring their first points. Europe 18 ½ - USA 9 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at The Belfry in 2002 and at The K Club in 2006.

Oakland Hills Country Club is located on Michigan’s rolling Bloomfield Hills. The club has two courses, the famous South course and the less famous North course.

Donald Ross laid out the South course in 1917 and Robert Trent Jones toughened the layout up ahead of the 1951 US Open, which was won emphatically by Ben Hogan. After his win, Hogan commented that he had “brought this monster to its knees” and since then the course is affectionately known as “The Monster”.

”The most pungent remark made during the controversial 1951 Open Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club,” wrote Robert Trent Jones in The Complete Golfer, “came from that patriarch of professional golf, Walter Hagen: ‘The course is playing the players instead of the players playing the course.’ In this comment, Hagen summed up the psychological shock suffered by the world’s ranking golfers when they encountered the remodelled course, for these modern players had been getting away with murder for years, and didn’t know it. They had been playing over course that, with a few exceptions, had been laid out in the 1920s, or earlier, and which had been tailored for the equipment and the ball and the playing conditions of that era.”

Rees Jones – son of Robert Trent Jones – undertook a series of renovations (mainly bunkering) to the South course ahead of the 2008 PGA Championships and the layout was stretched out in excess of 7,300 yards. Oakland Hills once again became a fearsome test with only three players beating par. Padraig Harrington followed in the footsteps of Gary Player and David Graham who were former Oakland Hills PGA winners (1974 and 1979 respectively). Harrington’s two closing rounds of 66 were enough to give him a two shot victory over Sergio Garcia. But Harrington was perhaps even more pleased to become the first European to win consecutive majors as he followed up his 2008 Open Championship win at Royal Birkdale by triumphing in the 2008 USPGA at Oakland Hills. Click here for more details.

With many holes lined by trees, six US Opens and one Ryder Cup under its belt, Oakland Hills Country Club should be treated with respect. We think that you’ll certainly appreciate the challenge and therefore we recommend that you befriend a member immediately. We also think that Oakland Hills is one of the fairest tests of golf in the land. Do you agree?

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Reviews for Oakland Hills (South)

Av. Reviewers Score:
Description: With many holes lined by trees, six US Opens and one Ryder Cup under its belt, the South course at Oakland Hills Country Club should be treated with respect. Rating: 5.3333333333333 out of 6

In all of American golf, Oakland Hills and its rightly revered South Course deserve a special place of recognition. The history has been previously mentioned so I will not repeat it. The collective quality of the putting surfaces is among the 2-3 best I have ever played among the Donald Ross courses I have personally experienced. In order to putt well one needs to be totally precise with your approaches. Failure to be in the proper areas -- means a quick three-putt and often more for those with a faulty stroke.

My main issue with the South is the overkill and redundant fairway bunkering that Robert Trent Jones, Sr. did for the '51 US Open Championship. Jones simply bracketed many of the holes and the need for shotmaking becomes a test of hitting archer-like drives with little variety. Those holes which don't feature this dimension are among the best with such examples being the 10th, 11th and 14th holes.

The par-4 16th is a good hole but gets plenty of mileage from the approach made by Gary Player in winning the '72 PGA Championship. The par-3 17th shows what a superior green can mean. The putting surface is brilliantly separated by a spine that features a left and right side. Land on the wrong side and it's highly unlikely a two putt will take place.

The ending hole on the South has issues of fairness. The dog-leg right holes features a reverse camber landing area and with bunkers prominently in play the wherewithal to find the fairway becomes a monumental task. The green is especially well done but it's the nature in how difficulty has been ramped up to extreme levels.

I'd love to see a quality architect revamp the fairway bunkers so that the role they play would be in closer alignment to what Ross originally intended. There's little doubt the South is a quality venue worthy of even more acclaim with just a bit more attention to compelling architecture and not just sheer difficulty.

by M. James Ward

November 19, 2017


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Quite generous off the tees but the greens are absolute hell for a first timer. 3 putts will be the order of the day. Good variety of holes with 6 and 11 standing out as memorable. The facilities are incredible except for the range which is too short to hit driver on. The food and service are top notch and then some.

August 28, 2016


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Originally a Donald Ross classic, Oakland Hills hired Robert Trent Jones to toughen it up for the 1950 US Open. The USGA agreed and while Jones left Ross’s heavily contoured greens (I used to think Aronimink had the most fabulously contoured Ross greens, but this course just might outdo it.) in place, he changed a lot. Fairways were narrowed, and scores of bunkers added. Overseeding around the new bunkers with rye grass to hold everything in place created additional challenges as the rye grew in fast and thick and stubbornly and resists letting go of golf balls. In the process of all this work, Jones invented the modern championship golf courseWhile Oakland Hills South is a great experience, for many golfers, playing here every day would be a bit much. On all of the driving holes, Jones narrowed the fairways considerably and on most (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 18), placed multiple hazards—in all but one case bunkers—directly opposite each other. I played with a 3 handicap who eventually left his driver in the bag because of the tightness of the fairway landing areas. The greenside bunkers Jones added left either a tiny opening for a running approach or none at all. The result is much less variety in shotmaking than Ross envisioned.The club is still focused on championships, hosting the 2016 US Amateur as an audition for a possible sixth US Open. And the members make no excuses for the difficulty of their course: most play it at 6566 yards with a slope of 137. The course rivals Seminole in terms of difficulty for average golfers.I must admit that I played the course on a day when the 1996 U.S. Open Sunday hole locations were replicated—a special treat for a visit from the Donald Ross Society (www.donaldross.org). So that may have influenced my view of the course’s difficulty.While many clubs are fortunate to have one historian, Oakland Hills has an entire committee of them—in the form of its Heritage Committee. The clubhouse, as impressive in its own way as the South course, shows off the Committee’s work with its Hagen Grille, Hall of Champions and Heritage Room. The latter houses replicas of the six trophies that have been contested over its grounds—US Open, PGA Championship, US Senior Open, US Women’s Amateur, Ryder Cup, and Western Open. No other club boasts that array of championships.
June 21, 2015


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Ben Hogan called it the “Monster” and the name stuck. Oakland Hills, located in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, has two courses, North and South. That’s probably about as much as you need to know about the North course. In fact, that is all I know about the North course – it exists. The South course exudes tradition and history. The club was founded by a former Ford Motor Company executive and designed in 1918 by Donald Ross, who never saw many of the courses he designed. But Ross must have spent some time at Oakland Hills, because it’s a masterpiece that regularly rates in the Top 10, and it clearly deserves the honor…

I sure loved this golf course. It was in fantastic condition, and the holes were as beautiful as those on a parkland course could be. Number 16, for example, is a 400-yard par 4 with a pond at the front right of the green. It’s a shallow green with a ridge running from front left to back right. An approach shot hit long to avoid the water will risk catching the back of that ridge and finding one of the four bunkers behind the green. I shot an 88 that day and felt like I had brought the Monster to at least one knee. My 88 was the best of the foursome… This course is definitely in my Top 10. Larry Berle.
November 06, 2014


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Keith Baxter
November 06, 2014
The above review is an edited extract from A Golfer’s Dream, which has been reproduced with the author’s kind permission. A Golfer’s Dream, by Larry Berle, tells the story of how a regular guy conquered America’s Top 100 Golf Courses (following Golf Digest’s 2001/2002 list). Larry has exclusively rated for us every course in the hundred, using our golf ball rating system. However, Larry did not rate the 100 courses against every golf course he has played, but instead he rated them in relation to each other within the hundred. Consequently, in some cases, his rating may seem rather low. A Golfer’s Dream is available in Kindle format and also on Kindle Unlimited via Amazon... click the link for more. 
Simply the best. The whole set up is something that you may never see back here in Scotland. Having a great tradition and magnificent course designer does not really set you up for what you might expect out there. I played with two local members in Glenn Diegel and Greg Buss as well as Mark Switalski on the day and scoring +3 over this course was something I was more than happy with for a first time experience which included a double bogey on the 11th when I only had an 8 iron to the green for my second so it just showed me that if you miss the greens in the wrong areas, it can be costly. We all had great caddies on the day and the course is so stunning with greens which again were magnificent with so many twists and turns. Having hit the 18th green in two shots in the wrong place I came off with a 5 because the 3rd shot was one which was so difficult to get close due to the speed and slopes on the greens. A great experience and the Clubhouse is unbelievable! We were also given a Heritage Tour of the Club afterwards and if any of you happen to eat there, try the white bean chilli!
September 23, 2009


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Simply put, Oakland Hills is fabulous. I played the course for the second time last week (my first since the Rees Jones renovation) and the experience was just amazing. Just driving-into the grounds and seeing the beautiful clubhouse got my blood flowing. Once you walk out on the terrace and see that gorgeous piece of land, one really get's a sense of the grand scale of the course - it is a true brute, especially with the new look. Oakland Hills is pure golf. The traditions and the ambiance all pay tribute to the game, and specifically the club's role in it's history. The course itself is gorgeous. I don't think there was a blade of grass out of place, but beyond simple beauty, the course is a perfect blend of risk and reward. That said, it is VERY difficult. the greens are just amazing. I have never played Augusta, but I have played Oakmont, and I found Oakland Hills' greens to be just as, if not more difficult. The bunkering was also very penal. Take my word for it - if you ever get the honor of playing, stay out of those bunkers. The service was perfect, the locker room just beautiful and the Men's Grille Room was the best I have experienced. I am proud to have played many great courses, but I can easily say that Oakland Hills was my finest experience.
July 07, 2007


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Jeff Wayne
March 10, 2008
Oakland Hills truly is the most magnificent golf in all the midwest and is a top 5 course in all the United States.The recent $2M course renovations will test the very best golfers in the world. Few will break par.As Donald Ross once said, "This land was meant to be a golf course." Never has a truer word been spoken.