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Jones Finishes Restoration of Oakland Hills


From Donald Ross to Robert Trent Jones Sr. to Rees Jones, the Old Miller Farm that became Oakland Hills Country Club has remained one of the nation's honored homes of major championship golf. Positioned 20 miles northwest of Detroit, Oakland Hills has hosted two PGA Championships, the Ryder Cup, six U.S. Open Championships and two U.S. Senior Opens. In August 2008, a world-class field will find a longer and even more challenging layout to the famous venue for the 90th PGA Championship.

"Oakland Hills is one of those wonderful rolling pieces of property where the holes fit like a glove," said Rees Jones.

When Donald Ross began routing the property in 1916, he took advantage of the natural elevation changes and contours. The new South Course is the product of a 2006 Rees Jones renovation that maintained the original Ross design and enhancements made by Jones' father, Robert Trent Jones Sr., in 1950. "This course meant the most to my father," said Rees Jones, who added that the invitation from Oakland Hills to guide the renovation was "the call I was waiting for my whole life."

Due to rapid advancements in players' skill levels, golf balls and equipment, Jones focused Oakland Hills' renovations on several areas, in order to challenge today's best golfers. "The PGA of America and Oakland Hills Country Club share similarities beyond the fact that we both originated in 1916," said PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb. "Our association is committed to taking the PGA Championship to the finest and most challenging venues in the country. Meanwhile, Oakland Hills' membership has never missed a step in continuing to enhance a world-class venue, such as the South Course. It continues to be a supreme test for the strongest field in golf that will compete in the 90th PGA Championship."

The Championship South Course at Oakland Hills Country Club - which played to a par-70 and was 6,974 yards in length for the 1996 U.S. Open - was expanded by 471 yards to 7,445 yards by Jones, who was able to restore the test of golf required for major championships without moving any of Oakland Hills' daunting greens.

He lengthened 15 holes, narrowed several fairways, changed the depth, size and location of fairway bunkers on 12 holes, and made changes to greenside bunkers on eight holes. Additionally, changes were made to the ponds featured on Hole Nos. 7 and 16, in order to require longer and more aggressive players to hit well-placed drives.

The pond on No. 7 was enlarged, while 38 yards were added to the hole. In addition, redesigned fairway bunkering was done to the left side to create what is perhaps the most beautiful and intimidating hole at Oakland Hills. There was also a dramatic makeover of the par-4 No. 11, which played to 398 yards in 1996 and is now a 455-yard hole that features a 289-yard carry over a rolling hill. Jones enlarged the fairway bunkers on the right and rebuilt them with deeper faces. This section of Oakland Hills was maintained well with its elevated greens and tees.

"The membership at Oakland Hills has always been committed to maintaining the South Course as one of the greatest tests of major Championship golf," said Oakland Hills Country Club Chief Operating Officer Rick Bayliss. "As trusted stewards of one of the United States' golfing treasures, we believe Rees Jones has achieved this objective in a similar manner that his father, Robert Trent Jones Sr., did in 1950."

Upon finishing the 1951 U.S. Open at 7-over-par 287, champion Ben Hogan gave Oakland Hills its biggest stamp of approval: "I'm just glad I brought this course, this monster, to its knees," said Hogan.

From August 7-10, 2008, there will be a worldwide viewing audience to complement thousands of spectators at the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, who will witness how a new generation of talented professionals can rise to again challenge the "monster" and capture the coveted Wanamaker Trophy.

About Oakland Hills Country Club

Founded in 1916, Oakland Hills Country Club continues to play a significant role in the history of golf in the U.S. and in assisting with establishing Michigan as a premier golf destination. The course has hosted 16 major championships, including: the 35th Ryder Cup in 2004; three PGA Championships - including the 90th PGA Championship in 2008; six U.S. Opens; two U.S. Senior Opens; U.S. Women's Amateur; U.S. Men's Amateur; Western Open; and the Carling World Open. The membership is proud of their heritage and how these championships benefit the local and state economy, as well as its neighbors.