Forecaddie: Pair of Michigan heavyweights headed for restoration

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 21: Curtis Luck from Australia hits his approach shot to the 18th green during the final round of the U.S. Amateur Championship played on the South Course of Oakland Hills Country Club on August 21, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) Leon Halip/Getty Images

Forecaddie: Pair of Michigan heavyweights headed for restoration

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Forecaddie: Pair of Michigan heavyweights headed for restoration

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The Forecaddie has seen it before: one big name course undergoes a successful restoration and others in the neighborhood follow suit. The greater Detroit region has seen some nice refreshes of old designs in recent years at places like Detroit Golf Club, but now two more old gems are going under the knife.

The headliner is Oakland Hills, where Gil Hanse and friends will finally get their hands on the famed South Course starting Oct. 1. The membership rebuffed an initial plan and had fallen out of favor with golf organizations once knocking on its doors to host majors. It will sport a revitalized Donald Ross design with widened fairways, expanded greens and efforts to highlight one of the sport’s most beautiful rolling properties. Overall, there will be much less sign that Robert Trent Jones had once made it a monster complete with his signature pinched fairways that today’s players would drive well past. In will be a return to Ross’ staggered, strategic bunkering.

The Man Out Front has seen the plans and also gone are the Jones cape-and-bay bunker edges installed before Ben Hogan’s 1951 U.S. Open win. Some signs of Jones and subsequent redesigns remain, like centerline fairway bunkers at the par-4 15th and the annoying fairway bunker at the 18th that dashed more than a few major hopefuls. Most of all, the magical green complexes will only be expanded to reclaim lost hole locations and bring the more Ross-like bunkering into play.

Whether this is enough to get Oakland Hills considered again for the U.S. Open remains to be seen, but given The Forecaddie’s affection for the club and course, it’s welcome news to hear the members finally consented to an overdue architectural replenishment.

Just as exciting is a planned renovation of H.S. Colt’s Bloomfield Hills Country Club set for fall of 2020. The exclusive club’s membership approved a total overhaul that will seek to go all in on Colt’s only solo U.S. design (he usually partnered with C.H. Alison or John Morrison here, or in the case of Pine Valley with George Crump). While TMOF is still waiting for an invite to play the course set in one of the more incredible areas for real estate, he’s always happy to hear when architects like Mike DeVries and Frank Pont are involved.

DeVries is the Crystal Downs-raised MacKenzie lover thankfully getting to work closer to home and nearer to his magnificent Kingsley Club (Golfweek’s Best No. 23 Modern). Adding a nice wrinkle: Netherlands-based Colt expert Pont will join the design team to ensure the club goes all in on its one-of-a-kind Colt solo effort.

Given the wealth of classics in the area, The Forecaddie hopes this is the beginning of a new Golden Age of Golden Age restorations.

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