‘From ashes will come triumph’: After clubhouse fire, USGA announces 2034, 2051 (!) U.S. Opens at Oakland Hills
It’s a story so good, one can almost forgive the USGA for telling it some thirty years early. The headline jumps right off the page.
“From ashes will come triumph,” surmised USGA chief championships officer John Bodenhamer.
On Father’s Day, Oakland Hills will rise from the ashes of the fire that destroyed most of its century-old clubhouse to host the final round of the U.S. Open. As the world’s best players come down the closing stretch, fans will flock in front of a newly rebuilt structure to see a national champion crowned. On that historic day, fans, members, and the whole of American golf will celebrate the club’s rebirth.
Or at least, we’re fairly sure they will. It’s hard to say with any degree of certainty what will happen in 2051.
On Tuesday morning, the USGA announced an additional half-dozen championships to Oakland Hills over the span of the next three decades, including a pair of U.S. Opens in 2034 and 2051.
Within an hour of the official announcement, the last of those championships — the 2051 Open — had already become a punchline of sorts among golf fans. It is 29 years away, after all. It’s possible, if not likely, that the person who eventually wins the 2051 Open is not currently alive.
But the final championship date at Oakland Hills should not distract from the whole of the USGA’s announcement. Particularly not considering what it represents, which is the USGA’s unspoken decision to position the club as the midwest staple of its still-forming rota.
With four amateur championships, including a U.S. Amateur, to go along with both men’s Opens and a pair of Women’s Opens, Oakland Hills will host a total eight USGA Championships between 2024 and 2051.
“It is a testament to our relationship with Oakland Hills and the incredible history that we share together,” Bodenhamer said in a press conference announcing the decision. “You heard me say this before, but the USGA believes that our venues differentiate our championships from all others. Does it matter where a player wins his or her USGA championship? It does matter where they win.”
Snark aside, Bodenhamer says, there’s some significance behind the governing body’s decision to bring the 2051 Open to Oakland Hills.
“When we stage a U.S. Open here in, yes, 2051, it will be 100 years since Ben Hogan tamed the monster in a historic and memorable championship which later he stated in some of his remarks was ‘the toughest 18 holes’ he had ever seen,” Bodenhamer said. “Pretty strong from a guy who may be the greatest ball striker that ever lived, at least one of them.”
Ultimately, it’s a story the USGA couldn’t — and can’t — wait to tell.
“This is a significant and meaningful day for all of us at Oakland Hills,” said Oakland Hills club president Rick Palmer. “The commitment of two U.S. Opens as well as four top amateur championships is a testament to the fabulous work of everyone at Oakland Hills. With a total of eight USGA championships coming to our club starting in 2024, we can’t wait to add to our storied history. We look forward to continuing our championship golf tradition at Oakland Hills and our long-standing relationship with the USGA.”