History 101 Oakland Hills

By Chris LewisAugust 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
2008 US Open 81x90Ever since its opening in 1918, Oakland Hills has hosted some of the games greatest championships.
 
With Donald Ross as its course architect and 11-time major champion Walter Hagen as its first head professional, Oakland Hills was destined for greatness. During the past 90 years, the course has hosted eight major championships including two PGA Championships, two U.S. Senior Opens, a U.S. Amateur and the 2004 Ryder Cup.
 
On the doorsteps of the 90th PGA Championship, lets reflect on the courses past, one filled with some greatest moments in golf history.
 
1922 Western Open
Back in the 1920s, the Western Open was one of the most prestigious tournaments in golf, attracting the worlds best. For the first time in its four year history, Oakland Hills gained recognition as the host of the 1922 Western Open. Oakland Hills head professional Mike Brady won the tournament by defeating two-time major champion Jock Hutchinson by 10 strokes for one of the largest margins of victory in PGA TOUR history. Brady succeeded Hagen as the clubs head professional after he lost the 1919 U.S. Open in a playoff to Hagen. When Hagen won he opted to leave position at Oakland Hills to focus solely on competitive golf.
 
1924 U.S. Open
Two years after the Western Open, Oakland Hills hosted its first major championship. Englishman Cyril Walker defeated defending champion Bobby Jones by three strokes. Jones was the best golfer in the world and ultimately won 12 more major championships, including three more U.S. Opens, Walker would not win another major championship. In fact, he would only have one more top-10 finish in a major championship for the remainder of his career. This Open will be remembered primarily as one of several great finishes that Bobby Jones had in the U.S. Open from 1922 to 1930.
 
1937 U.S. Open
Thirteen years later, Oakland Hills hosted its second U.S. Open as 24-year-old Ralph Guldahl won his first of consecutive U.S. Opens. Guldahl is one of six golfers to successfully defend the U.S. Open championship. Since Guldahls 1938 U.S. Open victory, only Ben Hogan and Curtis Strange have won back-to-back U.S. Opens. In the 1937 U.S. Open, he defeated hard-luck Sam Snead by two shots. Guldahl played steady golf all week by shooting 71-69-72-69 for a total of 7-under-par 281. Upon winning the 1937 and 1938 U.S. Opens, Guldahl would also add the 1939 Masters to his resume.
 
1951 U.S. Open
During the prime of his career, Ben Hogan won the 1951 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills for his second consecutive U.S. Open victory. Hogan fired a final round of 67 for a 7-over par finish of 287. The course played its toughest after course architect Robert Trent Jones modifications. Par was also changed from 72 to 70 for the week. Hogans 67 was one of only two under-par scores shot during the entire week. Four-time Tour winner Clayton Heafner shot the other under-par score and finished two strokes behind Hogan for second place. After winning his third Open, Hogan said: I am glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees. Hogan also viewed Oakland Hills as the greatest test of golf he had ever played. Oakland Hills still is known as The Monster.
 
1961 U.S. Open
Gene Littler won his only major championship at the fourth U.S. Open contested at Oakland Hills. When Littler arrived at Oakland Hills he had already won 16 Tourtitles, including the 1954 San Diego Open as an amateur. However, it was his U.S. Open victory that placed him among the games elite. In the final round, Littler shot a courageous 68 for a one-over total of 281. He defeated 20-time Tour winner Doug Sanders and 1968 Masters champion Bob Goalby by one shot. Littler would eventually win 12 more times on the PGA TOUR for a total of 29 victories.
 
1972 PGA Championship
Gary Player etched his name on the Wannamaker Trophy for the second time in his career during the first PGA Championship held at Oakland Hills. The tournament will always be remembered for Gary Players miraculous second shot on the par-four 16th hole, which is one of the toughest holes on the course. After bogeying the 14th and 15th holes to lose his lead to Jim Jamieson, Player sliced his tee shot into the rough. After standing on a gallery members chair to see the green, Player hit a 9 iron over water and trees. His ball landed only four feet from the hole. The unlikely birdie led to a two-stroke victory over Jamieson and 1973 Masters champion Tommy Aaron. Famous golf writer Herbert Warren Wind once called Players shot one of the most spectacular recovery shots in championship history. The victory was Players sixth major championship. It would also be Players last PGA Championship victory.
 
1979 PGA Championship
For the second time during the decade, Oakland Hills hosted the PGA Championship. The championship was extremely popular and drew large galleries. Australian David Graham was hoping to shoot a final-round 63 but double-bogeyed the renowned par four 18th hole. He would finish the championship with a final-round 65 for a total of 272. Ben Crenshaw eventually matched this score, forcing a playoff. Graham holed spectacular putts on the first and second holes to remain in the playoff and then won with a birdie on the third hole. At the time, Crenshaw was still searching for his first major championship and had become a star on the PGA TOUR. Graham had won various international titles before his PGA Championship victory, including three Tour events. He used his PGA Championship victory for further successes as he won his second major championship at the 1981 U.S. Open. Crenshaw eventually found his own major championship glory, however, with wins at the 1984 and 1995 Masters.
 
1981 U.S. Senior Open
Oakland Hills hosted the second U.S. Senior Open with 1967 British Open champion Roberto De Vicenzo as the defending champion. Arnold Palmer revenged his 1966 U.S. Open playoff loss to three-time major champion Billy Casper with an 18-hole playoff victory over Casper and Bob Stone, after all three players shot a 289, nine-over par for the week. Palmer shot an even-par 70 during the playoff to beat Stone by four shots and Casper by seven.
 
1985 U.S. Open
In 1985, Oakland Hills became the third course to host the U.S. Open five times. Little-known T.C. Chen held a four stoke lead during the final round of the championship, but blew it with a quadruple bogey on the fifth hole after hitting his ball twice on an approach shot for a two-stroke penalty. Andy North eventually claimed his second major championship after shooting a final round 74. He defeated three-time Tour winner Dennis Watson, Chen and two-time Tour winner Dave Barr by one shot. One of the most memorable shots of Norths round was his sand save on the difficult par-three 17th. North hit his second shot within inches of the hole to save par and win the championship. The 1985 U.S. Open was the last win of Norths Tour career.
 
1991 U.S. Senior Open
During the second U.S. Senior Open contested at Oakland Hills, Jack Nicklaus joined Arnold Palmer as one of only two golfers to have ever won the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open and U.S. Senior Open. Nicklaus finished regulation play at 282 and was joined by Chi-Chi Rodriguez. Nicklaus won the 18-hole playoff by shooting 65 to defeat Rodriguez by four shots. Afterwards, Nicklaus said, It was one of the best ball-striking rounds Ive played in a long time.
 
1996 U.S. Open
After entering the 1996 U.S. Open as a sectional qualifier, Steve Jones was not expected to contend. However, he followed an opening-round 74 with a 66 and shot a pair of 69s during the weekend to finish the tournament at 278, two-under par. Davis Love III was one of the best golfers in the world at the time and was searching for his major championship breakthrough. Playing in the second to last group, he three-putted for a costly bogey on the par-4 18th after missing a three-foot putt for par. Tom Lehman was playing in the final group with Jones and also bogeyed the 18th. Jones made par on the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Lehman and Love. After his U.S. Open victory, Jones won three more times, Lehman won the 1996 British Open and Love won the 1997 PGA Championship.
 
2002 U.S. Amateur
Oakland Hills hosted the 102nd U.S. Amateur as Ricky Barnes defeated Hunter Mahan 2 and 1. Barnes was low amateur at te Masters the following year, but is now competing on the Nationwide Tour. Meanwhile, Mahan won the 2007 Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour and was a captains pick for the 2007 Presidents Cup.
 
2004 Ryder Cup
In 2004, Oakland Hills hosted its very first Ryder Cup, which will be remembered as the largest defeat for the U.S. on home soil in the history of the competition. Europe won 18 to 9 in dominating fashion. European Colin Montgomerie holed the winning putt for Europe to maintain his record of never losing a singles matches. U.S. captain Hal Sutton was also criticized for his pairing of the top two golfers in the world, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
 

Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Championship
  • Getty Images

    'The Golf Club 2019' adds Elvy to commentary team

    By Nick MentaJuly 19, 2018, 4:45 pm

    “The Golf Club 2019” is adding a new name to its commentary team.

    Broadcaster Luke Elvy will join returning announcer and HB Studios developer John McCarthy for the title's third installment.

    Golf fans will recognize Elvy from his recent work with CBS in addition to his time with Sky Sports, FOX Sports, TNT, PGA Tour Live and PGA Tour Radio.

    A 25-year media veteran from Australia, he now works in the United States and lives with his family in Canada.

    "Ian Baker-Finch was my right-hand man on Australian televison," Elvy told GolfChannel.com in an interview at the Quicken Loans National. "And Finchy said to me, 'What are you doing here? You should be with me in the States.’ He introduced me to a few people over here and that's how the transition has happened over the last five or six years."

    Elvy didn't have any prior relationship with HB Studios, who reached out to him via his management at CAA. As for why he got the job, he pseudo-jokes: "They heard the accent, and said, 'We like that. That works for us. Let's go.' That's literally how it happened."

    He participated in two separate recording sessions over three days, first at his home back in February and then at the HB Studios shortly after The Players Championship. He teased his involvement when the game was announced in May.

    Although he doesn't describe himself as a "gamer," Elvy lauded the game's immediate playability, even for a novice.

    “It’s exactly how you’d want golf to be,” he said.

    "The Golf Club 2019" will be the first in the HB series to feature PGA Tour branding. The Tour had previously licensed its video game rights to EA Sports.

    In addition to a career mode that will take players from the Web.com Tour all the way through the FedExCup Playoffs, "The Golf Club 2019" will also feature at launch replicas of six TPC courses played annually on Tour – TPC Summerlin (Shriners Hospitals for Children Open), TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course (Waste Management Phoenix Open), TPC Sawgrass’ Stadium Course (The Players Championship), TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic/WGC-FedEx St. Jude Championship), TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic), and TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship).

    “I played nine holes at Scottsdale,” Elvy added. “It’s a very close comparison. Visually, it’s very realistic."

    The Golf Club 2019 is due out this August on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC.

    Getty Images

    Expired visa, helicopter, odd clubs all part of Vegas' journey

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 19, 2018, 3:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jhonattan Vegas thought someone was playing a practical joke on him.

    Or maybe he was stuck in the middle of a horror movie.

    Scheduled to leave for The Open a week ago, he didn’t arrive at Carnoustie until a little more than an hour before his first-round tee time Thursday.

    “Even if somebody tried to do that on purpose,” he said, “you couldn’t really do it.”

    The problem was an expired visa.

    Vegas said that he must have gotten confused by the transposed date on the visa – “Guessing I’ve been living in America too long” – and assumed that he was cleared to travel.

    No problem, he was told. He’d have a new visa in 24 hours.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Except the consulate in New York didn’t respond to his application the next day, keeping him in limbo through the weekend. Then, on Monday, he was told that he’d applied for the wrong visa. UPS got shut down in New York and his visa never left, so Vegas waited in vain for seven hours in front of the consulate in Houston. He finally secured his visa on Wednesday morning, boarded a flight from Houston to Toronto, and then flew to Glasgow, the final leg of a 14-hour journey.

    His agent arranged a helicopter ride from Glasgow to Carnoustie to ensure that he could make his 10:31 a.m. (local) tee time.

    One more issue? His clubs never made it. They were left back in Toronto.

    His caddie, Ruben Yorio, scrambled to put together a new bag, with a mismatched set of woods, irons, wedges and putter.

    “Luckily the (equipment) vans are still here,” Vegas said. “Otherwise I probably would have played with members’ clubs today.”

    He hit about 20 balls on the range – “Luckily they were going forward” – but Carnoustie is one of the most challenging links in the world, and Vegas was working off of two hours’ sleep and without his own custom-built clubs. He shot 76 but, hey, at least he tried.

    “It was fun,” he said, “even though the journey was frustrating.”

    Getty Images

    'Brain fart' leads to Spieth's late collapse

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The closing stretch at Carnoustie has famously ruined many a solid round, so Jordan Spieth’s misadventures on Thursday should not have been a complete surprise, but the truth is the defending champion’s miscues were very much self-inflicted.

    Spieth was cruising along at 3 under par, just two shots off the early lead, when he made a combination of errors at the par-4 15th hole. He hit the wrong club off the tee (4-iron) and the wrong club for his approach (6-iron) on his way to a double bogey-6.

    “The problem was on the second shot, I should have hit enough club to reach the front of the green, and even if it goes 20 yards over the green, it's an easy up-and-down,” Spieth said. “I just had a brain fart, and I missed it into the location where the only pot bunker where I could actually get in trouble, and it plugged deep into it. It was a really, really poor decision on the second shot, and that cost me.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Spieth continued to compound his problems with a sloppy bogey at the 16th hole, and a drive that sailed left at 18 found the Barry Burn en route to a closing bogey and a 1-over 72.

    The miscues were more mental, a lack of execution, than they were an example of how difficult the closing stretch at Carnoustie can be, and that’s not good enough for Spieth.

    “That's what I would consider as a significant advantage for me is recognizing where the misses are,” said Spieth, who was tied for 68th when he completed his round. “It felt like a missed opportunity.”

    Getty Images

    Perez: R&A does it right, 'not like the USGA'

    By Rex HoggardJuly 19, 2018, 2:28 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez didn’t even attempt to hide his frustration with the USGA at last month’s U.S. Open, and after an opening-round 69 at The Open, he took the opportunity to double down on his displeasure.

    “They (the R&A) do it right, not like the USGA,” Perez said of the setup at Carnoustie. “They've got the opposite [philosophy] here. I told them, you guys have it right, let the course get baked, but you've got the greens receptive. They're not going to run and be out of control. They could have easily had the greens just like the fairway, but they didn't. The course is just set up perfect.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Concerns at Shinnecock Hills reached a crescendo on Saturday when the scoring average ballooned to 75.3 and only three players broke the par of 70. Of particular concern for many players, including Perez, were some of the hole locations, given how fast and firm the greens were.

    “The U.S. Open could have been like this more if they wanted to. They could have made the greens a bit more receptive,” Perez said. “These greens are really flat compared to Shinnecock. So that was kind of the problem there is they let it get out of control and they made the greens too hard.”