Journey to Augusta – Oakland Hills CC #20

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Journey to Augusta – Oakland Hills CC (South) – 8/22-23/2015

Continuing with my pretty cool last couple months of summer, I have been looking forward to this weekend trip up in northern Detroit with my buddy Chris out at Oakland Hills CC. Earlier this year down in Florida we met a member from Oakland Hills during the Southern Golf Association Four-Ball tournament and have kept in touch over the months since then to arrange this outing.

He was an absolutely fantastic host and I look forward to keeping in touch with them and having more games together in the future. And when I say fantastic host, it wasn’t just because he was a member at one of the most premier courses in the US (let alone the World), but mainly because he is one of the nicest men I’ve met in my life. He makes you feel like you’ve known him his whole life, just a fantastic individual. Chris and I hope we can be like him as we continue to age.
Anyway, continuing to the golf and the experience, let’s jump right into Oakland Hills CC and possibly the best weekend I’ve had all year.

Chris, you’re going to have your work cut out for you at Olympia Fields trying to top this experience!

Oakland Hills CC

Oakland Hills CC
#20: America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses (Golf Digest 2013-2014)
#67: World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses (Golf Digest 2013-2014)

I landed in Detroit on Friday evening from a cross-country flight through Washington Dulles from San Francisco. To my dismay, my “friends” at United had apparently scanned my golf clubs onto my plane to Detroit, but similar to Jerry Seinfeld, “You may know how to TAKE the reservation, but you don’t know how to HOLD on to it”, they didn’t actually PUT my clubs on the plane. Awesome. So they promised me they would arrive on the next flight to Detroit and then be shuttled to my hotel by some greasy dude who drives around all night dropping off lost luggage. Awesome. So I tried to sleep after eating my worries away at Taco Bell (gross) – and thankfully the moment my alarm went off at 6:50 am, my phone rang and the hotel had received my clubs. Awesome (and this time I mean it). So I ran down and grabbed them, and hopped in the car to meet our host for breakfast and our first tee time of the day on the North course.

What can I say? The locker room and clubhouse were absolutely phenomenal, breakfast in the men’s grill was amazing, and then we headed out for our morning tee time on the North course. I apologize, but I kept the camera in the bag as I just wanted to enjoy the round. Let’s just say that the North course is easily one of my new all-time favorites and could easily be your only course, and you’d be happy. Heck, if OHCC wanted to offer me a National membership, but restrict me to just playing the North, I’d sign on the dotted line any day of the year. Fantastic track and an excellent warm-up round for the afternoon on the “monster” South course (and not a bad 78 to go along with it).

We headed back in for a quick lunch and second warm-up of the day for the South course in the afternoon. I was extremely anxious and ready to tackle the course Hogan famously referred to back during his US Open win as a “monster.” Our tee time rolled around and it was finally time to head to the 1st tee. From here, we took in the ring of champions celebrating all of the championships that this historic club has hosted.

Oakland Hills CC
From there, it was time to hit our first tee ball of the day off #1.

Oakland Hills CC
And we’re off (and I found the left bunkers). I hit a beautiful bunker shot, but preceded to three-putt my first green of the day – lovely!

Oakland Hills CC
Looking back down the #1 fairway at the clubhouse was probably one of my favorite pictures of the day, even after 3 putting…

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Moving on to the par-5 2nd hole, the course opened up a bit from the tee on this easy dogleg left. The picture below is as I walked up to my ball near the bunkers on the right, ready to give this par 5 ago in two…

Oakland Hills CC
And then from the layup area that would leave one with a short wedge in (if they weren’t pin high like me)…

Oakland Hills CC
After a chip up and a birdie putt that just slid by, we were on to the first par-3 on the course. Note the bunkering all around the green. The pin was up front, so it made the hole easily, but on Sunday it was back left where it looked like there was just sand…
Oakland Hills CC
The 4th hole offered an open tee shot, and then one of the few downhill approaches for the day…

Oakland Hills CC

 

Oakland Hills CC
So far, so good… And then came the 5th hole. Long, into the wind, creek running through the middle of the fairway… TOUGH! This was also the site of the famous double chip by Mr. TC Chen…

Oakland Hills CC
A fun, short, well-protected 6th hole followed, with the 7th hole offering a challenging tee shot with the water right and bunkering left…

Oakland Hills CC

 

Oakland Hills CC
After finishing out on 7, we made the march up the hill to the tee box on #8. The 8th hole at OHCC (South) plays as a par-4 during major tournaments and probably the US Am, is definitely a beast with bunkers framing the landing area for the tee shot…
Oakland Hills CC
After accomplishing a successful tee shot, the player is faced with a severely uphill approach (if they are playing it as a par-4) to a green with ridiculously deep bunkers and an incredibly steep hill behind, which yes, the ball does get stuck on as I would soon find out. Just a beautiful hole…
Oakland Hills CC
The front 9 ended with a brutal par-3. Our host said that he watched the last British Open qualifier to be held on US soil (at Oakland Hills). He said of the 50 man field, all who required world ranking points in order to enter, only a handful hit the green in regulation, and of those who did, a smaller subset made par. So of course, I HAD to hit one from the back tee box. I didn’t make the green (3-wood) on Saturday, but did on Sunday and pared out. Pretty cool…
Oakland Hills CC
At this point in the round, I tend to usually get a bit down (but hey, I still get to come back another day!) on approach to #10. Another gorgeous hole from the tee…
Oakland Hills CC
I was told by our host that the back 9 played harder than the front, and after shooting a dismal 43 on the front, I figured I was in for more punishment. But to my luck, my putter came around and I sank a good putt to save par on #10. Off to our host’s favorite hole on the course, #11, which was a tricky tee shot. You want to just skirt those bunkers on the right to get a big kick down the hill.
Oakland Hills CC
I did just that and had a little wedge into the green…
Oakland Hills CC
And had a kick-in birdie putt from there. The first one of the day (on the South) and on our host’s favorite hole nonetheless.
The 12th hole reminded me a bit of Oakmont’s 3rd hole, although the bunkers down the left were much less opposing. It was, however, an incredibly difficult par 5 based on the way the hole swung to the right with the trees up the entire right side.
Oakland Hills CC
Up next came the short 13th. A Beautiful hole surrounded by bunkers. And best to get the ball all the way to the top shelf or you’ll be putting out of a giant bowl…
Oakland Hills CC
The 14th hole was long, relatively flat, and framed by trees. And the green complex was ridiculous. I was trying too hard to save my par that I didn’t take any pictures near the hole. However, it’s said that the OHCC club champion doesn’t even mess with the green – he intentionally hits it over the green as he says the chip back is easier than any two-putt. I agreed with him when I did just that on Sunday…

Oakland Hills CC
The 15th is a hard dogleg right with bunkers dead center. I hit one of my best drives of the day on this hole and barely had 40 yards in. Alas, I missed the birdie putt…

Oakland Hills CC
The 16th hole comes with a bit of history. There is a lake that comes into play down the right that you must stay left of to play from the fairway. However, many players intentionally hit it down the right (towards the tree) and in the rough as they claim it makes the hole much easier. From the tee…

Oakland Hills CC
From the fairway…

Oakland Hills CC
And in the rough, you’ll find the following plaque commemorating Gary Player’s “vicious lash” at a ball during the PGA in 1972.

Oakland Hills CC
From this spot below, Player took that lash with a 9 iron as he knew the 8 iron he should have hit wouldn’t have made it over the three towering trees that used to be between him and the hole pictured below. He somehow hit it to a couple feet and made birdie, calling it the greatest shot he ever hit. I tried both days to replicate the conditions, and both days my ball came up in the water…

Oakland Hills CC
The picture from the tee on 17 below doesn’t do the hole justice with how uphill it is. Couple that with hitting a long iron into a green severely guarded by bunkers. I, however, found a way to make a par, with my birdie putt just sliding past.
Oakland Hills CC
The closing hole was a par 5 that played as a par 4 during all competitions. The view from the elevated tee was simply gorgeous, and I was convinced to make “tournament par” on at least one of these holes.

Oakland Hills CC
I hit a beautiful drive, just short of the last bunker down the left, and had this beautiful approach into the green with my 3-iron.

Oakland Hills CC

 

I hit my 3-iron right at the hole and knew it was going to be good. The ball just rolled off the back of the green, but was on the right level, and resulted in an easy 2 putt for “tournament par.” Awesome! PS – This is what happens when, on the second day, you JUST mishit your approach in…

Oakland Hills CC
All in all, my 39 on the back wasn’t so bad and resulted in finishing with an 82 on the day. The first day shooting 160 across both the North and South course wasn’t so bad. My Saturday was fantastic and capped off with a phenomenal dinner with our host and his wife and plenty of stories. And luckily enough, I got to go BACK on Sunday and do it all over again (no pictures from my Sunday, I put the camera away and enjoyed the day with our host and Chris’ arrival). The kid shot a 77 after texting me hammered at 3 am. Ridiculous. I pulled an 85 (54 holes was as much golf as I had played ALL of August). It was a great weekend and I look forward to reuniting with our host and doing it again soon. Maybe even for practice rounds for NEXT year’s US Amateur (new goal). But for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed the trip around OHCC (South). I know that you will enjoy the next write up at the site of THIS year’s US Amateur, Olympia Fields (North), coming in a few weeks.

Next Up: Olympia Fields (North)

The site of the Jim Furyk US Open as well as 2015 US Amateur and they’ll be playing a huge college tournament hosted by U of I while I’m in town – so I expect a spectacular set-up.
As always, if you need a playing partner at your Top 100 course, I’m just an e-mail and plane ride away!

Cheers!

Follow Andrew Ganey:

Join me on my "Journey to Augusta" with the help of my good friend Mathew. I am a single-digit handicap looking to play (and write about) all the top courses in the US. I am looking to make all sorts of new friends that share my passion for this great game while playing all the finest courses in the US. I look forward to setting up my next game anywhere, anytime!!

One Response

  1. Mark Light
    | Reply

    Great post Andrew. I was fortunate to play the south course twice this year. Also through a member who is more than that, he is a tremendous and generous person. I loved every bit of my experience. Both times I played there, I didn’t settle down until the back nine. I was so amped up. What a fantastic playable course tee to green, but you better bring your short game and putter. I hope I get another opportunity to play here again.

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