My latest National Post column, with my picks for the PGA Championship and a look at Oakland Hills, is here.
Here is a taste:
In 1951, after winning the U. S. Open, Ben Hogan told reporters how thrilled he was to have won, to have beaten not only the field, but also Oakland Hills Golf & Country Club, a beast that hardly anyone felt could be slain.
“I’m so glad to have brought this course, this monster, to its knees,” Hogan said after his win.
Fifty-seven years since Hogan’s win, The Monster will again play host to golf’s best. Not that the course has ever been that far removed from golf’s top events. In 2004 it was the venue for the Ryder Cup, where the Europeans thumped the American squad, and it has held numerous other notable events, including the U. S. Open in 1985, site of the T. C. Chen’s famed flubbed chip. There is enough history of major championships being contested on Oakland Hills’ fairways to rival that of any other course.
That is not surprising. Great — and memorable — championships are typically decided on great golf courses. Oakland Hills is no exception. Crafted initially by Donald Ross, a Scotsman who relocated to the U. S. to become the most prolific designer in the country’s history, and later reworked by Robert Trent Jones for the 1951 U. S. Open and most recently by his son, Rees, Oakland Hills is a parkland layout punctuated by rolling fairways contained by large bunkers.