Oakland Hills From Monster to Mecca

By Associated PressSeptember 16, 2004, 4:00 pm
04 Ryder CupBLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Oakland Hills' place in golf history was secure before the Ryder Cup arrived.
 
It has hosted six U.S. Opens, none more famous than the one in 1951, a layout Ben Hogan called a 'monster.' It also has been home to two PGA Championships, and will get another in four years.

But when the 35th Ryder Cup begins Friday on a course that once was a dairy farm, Oakland Hills will join some exclusive company as one of four courses to have held a Ryder Cup, U.S. Open and PGA Championship. Oak Hill, Pinehurst and Scioto are the others.
 
'Championship golf has been a part of Oakland Hills since its inception in 1918, and our membership has always viewed itself as stewards of a national golf treasure,' Oakland Hills chief operating officer Rick Bayliss said. 'Oakland Hills has played a significant role in golf's history, and it's part of our mission to make sure that's true in the years to come.'
 
The Donald Ross design, which opened in 1918, is an American classic with tree-lined, undulating fairways, subtle elevations and some of the most severely contoured greens in the land -- so much slope, in fact, that the U.S. Open has to keep the greens at a moderate speed to make it fair.
 
'It's hard to rank the historic courses, but there's no question that Oakland Hills is on the short list,' Jim Furyk said.
 
Furyk and the rest of the Americans will be playing at home, where it has lost the Ryder Cup just twice since the matches began in 1927 -- in 1987 at Muirfield and in 1995 at Oak Hill.
 
But while Hogan said he was glad to have 'brought this course, this monster, to its knees' a half-century ago, the 7,077-yard course at a par 70 is no longer as daunting because of the sport's new technology.
 
The key has always been -- and will always be -- keeping the ball below the hole on the greens.
 
'They are severe, but they are in great shape,' Stewart Cink said. 'So what you see for break, you're going to get.'
 
Jack Nicklaus, who won the 1991 U.S. Senior Open at Oakland Hills, once said the greens were more difficult than any other because of their speed and contour.
 
Unlike stroke play, the golf course has little to do with the Ryder Cup matches. The United States could play Europe at any municipal golf course and it would still come down to beating the other guys on that hole.
 
Of course, that doesn't make Oakland Hills -- ranked No. 8 among America's 100 greatest golf courses by Golf Digest -- and its 900 members feel any less special about hosting one of world's great sports events.
 
'Even though we've hosted many major events, this is a true treat,' Bayliss said.
 
John O'Hara, an 86-year-old member, said Oakland Hills is essentially the same as it was when he started playing it in 1926.
 
'When Donald Ross first came here to design the course he said, 'The Lord intended this to be a golf course,'' O'Hara said. 'He put bunkers behind the greens because in those days, we had to water the greens by hand with hoses, so they were as hard as concrete. Our irrigation system took care of that, but that's about the only major change.'
 
To get ready for the Ryder Cup and its 40,000 daily visitors, however, Oakland Hills and the PGA of America split $70 million in costs. The two entities also will share in the profits, not including the millions NBC pays the PGA of America to televise the event.
 
More than 800 semi-trucks delivered materials to build 325,000 square feet of tents, including a 3,500 square foot merchandise tent, and to bring nearly 5,000 pieces of furniture and 15,000 bleacher seats.
 
On Monday morning, the tear-down process will start and is expected to last four days.
 
'It's the quintessential moveable feast,' Bayliss said.
 
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    Furyk tabs Woods, Stricker as Ryder Cup vice captains

    By Will GrayFebruary 20, 2018, 9:02 pm

    U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk has added Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker to his stable of vice captains to aid in his quest to win on foreign soil for the first time in 25 years.

    Furyk made the announcement Tuesday in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., site of this week's Honda Classic. He had previously named Davis Love III as his first vice captain, with a fourth expected to be named before the biennial matches kick off in France this September.

    The addition of Woods and Stricker means that the team room will have a familiar feel from two years ago, when Love was the U.S. captain and Furyk, Woods, Stricker and Tom Lehman served as assistants.

    This will be the third time as vice captain for Stricker, who last year guided the U.S. to victory as Presidents Cup captain. After compiling a 3-7-1 individual record as a Ryder Cup player from 2008-12, Stricker served as an assistant to Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014 before donning an earpiece two years ago on Love's squad at Hazeltine.

    "This is a great honor for me, and I am once again thrilled to be a vice captain,” Stricker said in a statement. “We plan to keep the momentum and the spirit of Hazeltine alive and channel it to our advantage in Paris."

    Woods will make his second appearance as a vice captain, having served in 2016 and also on Stricker's Presidents Cup team last year. Woods played on seven Ryder Cup teams from 1997-2012, and last week at the Genesis Open he told reporters he would be open to a dual role as both an assistant and a playing member this fall.

    "I am thrilled to once again serve as a Ryder Cup vice captain and I thank Jim for his confidence, friendship and support," Woods said in a statement. "My goal is to make the team, but whatever happens over the course of this season, I will continue to do what I can to help us keep the cup."

    The Ryder Cup will be held Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National in Paris. The U.S. has not won in Europe since 1993 at The Belfry in England.

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    Watch: Guy wins $75K boat, $25K cash with 120-foot putt

    By Grill Room TeamFebruary 20, 2018, 8:15 pm

    Making a 120-foot putt in front of a crowd of screaming people would be an award in and of itself for most golfers out there, but one lucky Minnesota man recently got a little something extra for his effort.

    The Minnesota Golf Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center has held a $100,000 putting contest for 28 years, and on Sunday, Paul Shadle, a 49-year-old pilot from Rosemount, Minnesota, became the first person ever to sink the putt, winning a pontoon boat valued at $75,000 and $25,000 cash in the process.

    But that's not the whole story. Shadle, who describes himself as a "weekend golfer," made separate 100-foot and 50-foot putts to qualify for an attempt at the $100K grand prize – in case you were wondering how it's possible no one had ever made the putt before.

    "Closed my eyes and hoped for the best," Shadle said of the attempt(s).

    Hard to argue with the result.

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    Tiger draws Sneds, Kizzire at Honda Classic

    By Ryan LavnerFebruary 20, 2018, 7:43 pm

    PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Tiger Woods will play alongside Patton Kizzire and Brandt Snedeker for the first two rounds of the Honda Classic.

    The threesome will tee off at 7:45 a.m. ET Thursday off PGA National’s 10th tee, then 12:35 p.m. off the first tee in the second round Friday.

    Woods is making his first start at the Honda, his hometown event, since 2014. He tied for second here in 2012, after a final-round 62.


    Honda Classic: Articles, photos and videos


    This is the first time he has ever played with Kizzire, a two-time winner this season and the FedExCup points leader.

    Other notable groups for the first two rounds:

    • Justin Thomas, Sergio Garcia, Daniel Berger: 7:35 a.m. Thursday, 12:25 p.m. Friday
    • Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Gary Woodland: 7:55 a.m. Thursday, 12:45 p.m. Friday
    • Rickie Fowler, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner: 12:25 p.m. Thursday, 7:35 a.m. Friday
    • Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Padraig Harrington: 12:35 p.m. Thursday, 7:45 a.m. Friday
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    The Social: In perfect harmony?

    By Jason CrookFebruary 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

    Bubba Watson re-emerges in the winner's circle but gets exposed on the hardwood, Mark Wahlberg tunes out Tiger Woods and if John Daly wants a drinking partner, he need look no further than ... John Daly?

    All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

    Bubba Watson had himself a week.

    The two-time Masters champion hung out with Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, caught a taping of "The Big Bang Theory," played in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and still found some time to notch his first PGA Tour win in two years.

    Watson's third victory at Riviera couldn't have come at a better time for the 39-year-old, with an annual trip down Magnolia Lane right around the corner. But don't let that distract you from the only Bubba highlight that mattered from the weekend:

    Welcome to the block party, Bubba. Despite his former professional basketball playing wife's advice to stay out of the paint, Watson decided to challenge Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady at the hoop. You could say his challenge was accepted. And then some.

    Watson, who picked up a couple of assists but also shot an air ball in the game, said afterwards that he "was just trying not to get hurt" and even poked a little fun at himself, calling out McGrady for committing a foul on social media.

    But if these tweets from a couple of his PGA Tour peers are any indication, it will be a while before he lives this one down.

    Sports fans probably take Bubba Golf for granted sometimes, no one plays the game like he does. Lets not make the same mistake with Bubba Basketball.

    Want to know how far Tiger Woods has fallen? Sure, you could look at his 544th-world ranking or the current state of his game as he returns from injury, but the most telling sign came from his Wednesday pro-am round at the Genesis Open.

    Woods was grouped with Mark Wahlberg for the day, and the superstar actor couldn't even be bothered to take the Apple AirPods out his ears – either one – for the entire round, even wearing them for the picture Woods posted on Instagram himself.

    Marky Mark, you don't have to be his thunder buddy but at least show the man some common decency. He's still Tiger Freakin' Woods. Who is supposed to fake laugh at one of Tiger's patented hilarious dad jokes if all of his playing partners suddenly start listening to music during their rounds?

    On a related note, guess Tigers are the only animals that Wahlberg won't talk to.

    Something tells me this whole criminal thing isn't going to work out for these two.

    Drinks were on John Daly Sunday after his hole-in-one at the Chubb Classic. But how many drinks? Well, that depends on who he’s drinking with.

    If it’s with U.S. Olympian John Daly, the answer is, A LOT.

    That's right, there's an American skeleton (headfirst luge for you newbs) racer competing in PyeongChang, South Korea, with the same name as the two-time major champ, and he couldn't help himself when asked about the similarity, jokingly saying he could keep up at the bar.

    Of course, Daly (the golfer) wasn't just going to sit idly by while his name was dragged through the mud, tweeting out, basically, be careful what you wish for.

    Somehow, someway, sliding headfirst down a frozen patch of ice with very little protection seems like a better idea than challenging Long John to a drinking contest. Just ask Andrew 'Beef' Johnston how it turned out.

    If someone quits Twitter but they don't leave a long, drawn-out message on Twitter about why they're quitting Twitter before doing so, then did they even quit Twitter?

    That's the riddle surrounding Lydia Ko's disappearance from the social media platform, one that the South Park Police Department would call, "suspicious."

    The former LPGA world No. 1 has gone through all kinds of changes over the last couple of seasons, and added this curious move (on top of switching out her swing coach and caddie to start this season) because she said the app was “taking up [too much] storage on my phone.”

    Whatever the reason, whether it be the storage issue she mentioned, or Twitter being a giant cesspool of negativity, here's to hoping it brings Ko happiness and a return to the winner's circle for the first time since 2016.

    But we're sad to see her go.

    After all, if people aren't freaking out on Twitter, what are we going to focus on here in The Social?

    Rory McIlroy said last week after playing with Tiger Woods at the Genesis Open that the 14-time major champ gives up two strokes a tournament dealing with the hoopla that comes with being Tiger Woods.

    That hasn't deterred John Peterson, who was on Twitter Monday openly recruiting Woods to play on his team for the Zurich Classic.

    The April New Orleans PGA Tour stop switched to a team format last year, with Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith joining forces to win the first title.

    Peterson followed up his original tweet by asking how many retweets he'd need to make it happen. We're no experts here, but probably more than the 132 it had at the time of this publication.

    Peterson's followers had some fun with the request, applauding his effort as a shooter:

    And hey, who knows, stranger things have happened. While the two may seem like an unlikely pairing, they have some stuff in common – Peterson won the 2012 Coca-Cola Walmart Open and Tiger, we think, has heard of an establishment known as Walmart.

    So yeah, you could say the two are basically best friends at this point.