A U.S. Open at Oakland Hills? It should happen. Here’s why.

It’s time for Oakland Hills Country Club to host the U.S. Open. It’s time for the U.S. Golf Association to recognize the hard work one of the country’s most historic golf clubs is doing, and award it our national championship for the first time since 1996.

It’s time because Oakland Hills has paid its dues, and it has been too long since the golf-mad state of Michigan has hosted a major championship.

I spent last Monday at the Bloomfield Township club speaking with members and staff and listening to a presentation about the restoration of the championship South Course scheduled to be completed in July.

The $12.1-million project is extensive and impressive. Its key component is the installation of a PrecisionAire system that dries, cools and heats the greens. It would give the USGA the assurance and control of green speeds that is crucial during the U.S. Open.

“At the end of the day,” architect Gil Hanse said Monday, “with players of this caliber, it comes down to two things. We’d have to build this course at 9,000 yards long, and that’s not happening. It comes down to rough and it comes down to firm greens.”

The course should be the least of anyone’s concerns. The venerable club was founded in 1916 and has the pedigree anyone would cherish. It has hosted six U.S. Opens and three PGA Championships.

No one doubts the course will be amazing when the work is done. The question on everyone’s mind is what would it take for the USGA to award Oakland Hills the U.S. Open, which wouldn’t come until 2028 at the earliest?

There are a lot of factors involved, but the most important one is relationships.

The USGA can pick almost any course it chooses to host the U.S. Open. I think it comes down to USGA leaders being comfortable with the Oakland Hills leaders and feeling they could have a good working relationship for the numerous years of preparation that lead up to the tournament.

Although it has been a long time since Oakland Hills hosted the U.S. Open, that was in part by choice. I’ve spoken with lots of people over the years at Oakland Hills who told me club members in 1996 were put off by the way the USGA took over the club during the tournament.

Egos were bruised and Oakland Hills chose to take itself out of the U.S. Open rotation and partner with the PGA of America to host the 2004 Ryder Cup and the ’08 PGA Championship. In the world of golf majors, you either work with the PGA or the USGA, but not both at the same time. To put it in Detroit terms, you’re either a Ford or a Chevy person.

But the leadership from 1996 is different on both sides now. The relationship has been mended, evident in 2016, when Oakland Hills hosted the U.S. Amateur.

“We have a committee, a future-sites committee, at the USGA that’s constantly looking at where all of our Open championships go,” Ben

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By: Carlos Monarrez
Title: A U.S. Open at Oakland Hills? It should happen. Here's why.
Sourced From: golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/08/31/us-open-oakland-hills-renovation-usga/
Published Date: Mon, 31 Aug 2020 13:59:36 +0000

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