Oakland Hills clubhouse 'total loss' after fire
By Lisa Brody
Early evaluations at Oakland Hills Country Club estimate the clubhouse building is a total loss after a fire began around 10 a.m. Thursday, February 17.
The Bloomfield Township Fire Department was joined by Birmingham, Waterford, Southfield, Independence Township and Franklin fire departments as the fire, which began in the south side of the building, eventually spread to the north side and consumed the entire building. It is believed to be a total loss.
It is believed everyone who was inside the building at the time the fire began was able to get out, and there were no injuries reported.
One witness said most of the fire was on the south side “for a good hour and a half before it spread to the north side. It spread slowly. We could watch the firefighters walk the roofline and protect the north side, but ultimately, they couldn't save the building.”
The clubhouse, which was about 70,000 square feet, was the second largest wooden structure in Michigan behind the Grand Hotel, a member said. It had been designed as a replica of Mt. Vernon, George Washington's estate.
Early speculation of the cause of the fire centers on both the HVAC system and the kitchen, but “anything right now is speculation,” said one member who was able to get onto the golf course and view firefighters taking out valuable memorabilia. Some witnesses said they heard all of the memorabilia from the first floor, located primarily on the north side of the building, had been retrieved before the fire reached that area, but not from the second floor, which is a total loss, but that information could not be confirmed.
Once the fire is completely out, fire investigators hope to retrieve all of the cameras in the building, if they're able to, and start from the beginning to determine how the fire started at the private club located at 3951 W. Maple Road in Bloomfield Township. The club, with approximately 250 member families, was first established in 1916, 106 years ago. The famed 18-hole South Course was first opened in 1918; and the second course, the North Course, in 1924. They were both designed by noted golf course designer Donald Ross.
The clubhouse first opened in 1922, and has had many subsequent renovations, most recently in 1999-2000.
Oakland Hills Country Club has hosted many prestigious golf tournaments through the years, most recently the Ryder Cup in 2004, six U.S. Opens and three PGA championships. The South Course had just recently undergone a complete restoration project and reopened to play in 2021, with aspirations of hosting another U.S. Open in 2028.