After devastating fire, Oakland Hills Country Club plans to rebuild
Golf Culture

After devastating fire, Oakland Hills Country Club plans to rebuild



“We have lost our iconic clubhouse.”

With those words, the entire golf world wept.

Oakland Hills Country Club president Rick Palmer confirmed what everyone feared Friday morning – a devastating fire that broke out Thursday morning completely destroyed the century-old clubhouse, which had stood sentinel over six US Opens, three PGA Championships, two US Amateurs and the 2004 Ryder Cup.

C. Howard Crane, preeminent architect of the age, designed the structure in 1922. This would have been the centennial anniversary of the old rambling white Colonial clubhouse, which was designed to look like Mount Vernon, home of George Washington. The golf pro shop, golf operations building, golf maintenance building and other sports complexes were unharmed. The 2022 golf season is planned in full as normal.

Firefighters and club employees rescued a portion of the priceless and historic golf memorabilia the club had accumulated over the decades, passing it through a window to a waiting van. It is unclear what was lost, though the insurance adjusters are at work on the problem.

Fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause the fire, which started in an attic and defied detection though firefighters and employees all smelled smoke for some time before flames erupted through the clubhouse roof. Six different engines battled the blaze throughout the day and into the evening.

Proceeding as though it were a total loss, the club has promised to rebuild a replica. Palmer, who delivered the old clubhouse’s epitaph on Friday, announced the news Monday morning after the club deliberated over the weekend. Insurance proceeds will cover the costs in full, and the USGA has promised assistance with both temporary structures and contractors.

The club is slated to host two US Women's Opens (2013, 2042) and is a candidate for a long-awaited chance to again host the US Open. Steve Jones won the club’s last Open in 1996 over the Donald Ross-designed South Course.

About the author

Jay Flemma

Jay Flemma

Starting with a blog and a dream, Jay Flemma launched his first sports-writing website in 2004. Some 13 years and 25 major golf championships later, Jay has won multiple national sports writing awards. Besides GNN, his work has appeared in numerous books as well as on-line at Cybergolf, PGA.com, GolfObserver, GolfChannel.com and many other sites and print magazines. When not trying to find a lost golf ball, Jay is an entertainment, copyright, Internet, sports and trademark lawyer in Manhattan. His clients have been nominated for Grammy and Emmy awards, won a Sundance Film Festival Best Director award, performed on stage and screen, and designed pop art for museums and collectors. Jay lives in Forest Hills, N.Y., and is fiercely loyal to his alma maters, Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and Trinity College in Connecticut.