The iconic Oakland Hills Country Club is still smouldering after a fire burned the famous clubhouse to the ground on Friday in Michigan. Thankfully, nobody was hurt in the blaze, but over a century of golf history can never be replaced such was the devastation.
The fire started around 10 a.m. and the roof of the club house collapsed around 11 a.m. The century-old country club has hosted over a dozen major golf events including the 2004 Ryder Cup and recently announced that Oakland Hills would host the U.S. Women’s Open in 2031 and 2042. Padraig Harrington won his 2008 PGA Championship at the venue.
Rick Palmer, the club president, reported that General Manager Christine Pooler called him with no idea how the fire had started but confirming the damage was “very, very, very significant.”
Truly awful scene from Oakland Hills. Thoughts going out to everyone on the ground there.pic.twitter.com/broc9dlN7A
— GOLF.com (@GOLF_com) February 17, 2022
“It’s a devastating day,” Pooler said. “But to the credit of our members and our resolve and our team, we’re more committed than ever that this won’t affect any of that. Buildings, clubhouses will get rebuilt.”
Some items, such as iconic trophies, are said to have been saved though legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus was one of many of the game’s icons to lament a huge loss for the history of golf.
“It is a sad day for the membership, but also for the countless people, like me, who respect and appreciate Oakland Hills,” he said. “They will be able to rebuild the clubhouse, but it will be difficult to replace the many memories lost today.”
Amongst the debris is said to be historic portraits of some of the greats of the game who played and won at Oakland Hills, including Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead while irreplaceable memorabilia, from equipment to clothing to photos have been completely destroyed.
“We got some items out, some of the trophies and memorabilia. Members were directing us about what they wanted out before the fire got to those areas,” said Bloomfield Township Fire Chief John LeRoy.
The alarm had been reportedly raised after a cook smelled smoke in the kitchen and although there’s still no confirmation as to where exactly the blaze started, the ceiling sprinklers that come on when smoke is detected were powerless against the fire.
“This may have been in the walls and between the floors, so the sprinklers couldn’t get at it,” LeRoy said. “We’ll probably never know what truly happened, the damage is so far advanced.
“We still have water flowing. The building’s so collapsed, you can’t get water to some of the hot spots. You stop the water and the fire comes back in five minutes.”