A fire that recently engulfed Oakland Hills Country Club is expected to have left the clubhouse a total loss.


BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — Oakland Hills Country Club plans to build a replica of the club’s historic clubhouse, which was among Michigan’s largest wooden structures before it was destroyed by fire last month.

Club chairman Rick Palmer said the decision to rebuild was made just days after the February 17 fire, at a meeting of the club’s board on February 19.

“The Board of Directors has unanimously made an easy decision and determined that the restored and rebuilt clubhouse will be a replica of what the iconic clubhouse was before the fire,” he said. declared. “In fact, our members and the national golf community have really made this decision very easy for us because of the outpouring of its uniqueness, even our golf course architect, Gil Hanse, who wants our club- house matches its magnificent restoration work.”

A massive fire engulfed the Bloomfield Township Pavilion, causing the roof to collapse, ultimately engulfing the majority of the 90,000 square foot structure.

In nearly 24 hours, said Bloomfield Township Fire Chief John LeRoy, firefighters did “everything they could” to try to save the clubhouse, battling the flames in the wind , rain, ice and snow “to the edge of exhaustion”. Limited crews from the townships fire department remained on the scene around the clock for several days afterward, monitoring remaining burning activity in the debris. By the morning of Monday, Feb. 21, all remaining hot spots in the debris had been extinguished, according to LeRoy.

The cause of the fire had yet to be determined at press time and is still under investigation.

“Everything is still ongoing at this point,” LeRoy said at press time. “The fire is under investigation. The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office will take the lead, simply because of the magnitude of the incident and the resources needed to handle this, and we will assist them.

Although Palmer could not confirm whether the building is a total loss, he said the club are planning for it.

“Our insurance company will make the final decision as to whether it is a total loss. However, we are operating internally and are planning for it to be a total loss and are taking action accordingly. assuming that will be the case,” he said.

Oakland Hills retained its own independent adjuster, but Palmer said dollar figures associated with damages — including golf memorabilia — were not yet available.

“I can tell you that we are comfortable and believe that we are fully insured, and this will have no impact on our reconstruction processes and objectives,” he explained.

While club officials are currently in the process of interviewing architectural firms to handle the rebuild, Palmer said he does not yet have an estimate of the cost of the project or a timetable for when it will be built. He predicts it will take “at least two full seasons” to complete.

In the meantime, officials are working on an operational plan for 2022 – as the club’s tennis building, golf operations building and maintenance facilities were unaffected by the fire.

“We are focused in 2022 on any temporary operations that we put in place to be able to run our member services and member-related events,” Palmer remarked.

While Palmer said the United States Golf Association has offered its help and contractor, should the club decide to build a temporary structure, he noted that “it’s too early to tell” if the club will move in that direction.

All charity parties, banquets and weddings for 2022 are being “put to alternatives”, according to Palmer, who said “the reality is that it won’t be possible to have them”.

During the winter months, Oakland Hills Country Club employs about 25 full-time people, but the club’s payroll increases to about 300 people in the summer.

To help Oakland Hills employees who have been affected by the fire, ClubsHelp Foundation, with support from the National Club Association, has set up a fund. The nonprofit foundation made an initial donation of $5,000 and said it would match funds up to and including the first $15,000 of outside donations toward its overall goal of reaching $250,000. At press time, the fund had reached over $98,000. To donate, visit https://www.clubshelp.org.

Founded in 1916, Oakland Hills Country Club is a private golf club with two 18-hole courses designed by Donald Ross. Its clubhouse, which has undergone a number of extensive renovations over the years, most recently in 1999, officially opened in August 1922.

Considered one of Michigan’s most prestigious golf clubs, Oakland Hills has hosted the 2004 Ryder Cup, two American Amateurs, three PGA Championships and six US Open Championships over the years.

The club recently reopened in 2021 after being closed for two years for a $12 million renovation of its south course – known today as ‘The Monster’ – with aspirations of hosting a US Open from 2028.

Earlier this year, the US Golf Association announced that the country club would host the 2031 and 2042 US Women’s Open events.

“We certainly don’t anticipate any issues with our two US Women’s Opens, which have been announced for 2031 and 2042, and I don’t think the ongoing discussion of additional championships will be affected by this fire,” Palmer said.

Oakland Hills Country Club is located at 3951 W. Maple Road in Bloomfield Township. For more information about the club, visit www.oaklandhillscc.com.