Genesis Scottish Open

The Renaissance Club


Rebuilding Oakland Hills clubhouse to exceed $100 million. Members asked to shoulder a substantial chunk

November 17, 2023

A massive fire destroyed the historic Oakland Hills clubhouse on Feb. 17, 2022, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Leon Halip

Assessments are a fact of life for many private-club members, but a new one coming to those who belong to famed Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., might stick in the collective craw. The iconic Detroit-area club is about to break ground on the replacement for its clubhouse—which burned down in a spectacular fire almost two years ago. The membership had already approved a plan to borrow $40 million (on top of the $48 million insurance settlement), which zapped each member for $18,500 across two annual payments and $165 more per month, according to a report in The Detroit News, which obtained a letter sent to the membership by club management.

However, now the club says unforeseen site work, "unanticipated costs" and furniture and fixture expenses mean the final bill will be about $104 million. Monthly dues could end up being $230 more per month instead of the $165 more originally anticipated. Granted, the scale of the new facility is spectacular: 110,000 square feet of elite splendor featuring a double-decker men's locker room, workout facility and event space.

Still, $104 million is a big number. The Baltimore Orioles built Oriole Park at Camden Yards for $110 million in 1992, and Augusta National built its stadium-like media center for a reported $60 million in 2017. Tom Fazio took a piece of barren Las Vegas desert and turned it into a taste of North Carolina for $60 million in 1989. Mike Keiser could have built nine copies of his Cabot Links course along the Nova Scotia coastline with that kind of budget and wouldn't even need to spend Canadian dollars.

The good news is that Oakland Hills is on the schedule for eight more USGA championships (and their attendant merchandise extravaganzas), starting with next year's U.S. Junior Amateur and including the 2034 and 2051 U.S. Open and 2031 and 2042 U.S. Women's Open. The bad news? The members might still be paying off the building on strokes.

Oakland Hills Country Club South Course
Bloomfield Hills, MI, United States
104 Panelists
Donald Ross felt his 1918 design was out-of-date for the 1951 U.S. Open and was prepared to remodel it. Sadly, he died in 1948, so Robert Trent Jones got the job. His rebunkering was overshadowed by ankle-deep rough, and after Ben Hogan closed with a 67, one of only two rounds under par 70 all week, to win his second consecutive Open, he complained that Jones had created a Frankenstein. Sixty-plus years later, Oakland Hills is even longer, but its bite wasn’t severe when it hosted the 2016 U.S. Amateur. In 2019, the South course closed as Gil Hanse and his team significantly renovated the course with the intention of removing the Jones influences and restoring its Ross feel. They did that by expanding greens to recapture what are some of Ross's best contours, removed trees to show off the rolling landscape and shifted bunkers back to where Ross, not RTJ, placed them. The course re-opened in Spring 2021, and though a crippling fire destroyed the club's iconic clubhouse, the USGA delivered some kind news to the club, bringing the 2034 and 2051 U.S. Opens to Oakland Hills—as well as a number of upcoming USGA championships.
Explore our full review