Oakland Hills prepares for U.S. Amateur Championship

The ‘Monster’ awaits the world’s top amateur golfers

By: Thomas Franz | C&G Newspapers | Published July 22, 2016

 Oakland Hills Country Club is hosting the U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 15-21. Pictured is the 18th fairway leading into the green, with the iconic clubhouse in the background.

Oakland Hills Country Club is hosting the U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 15-21. Pictured is the 18th fairway leading into the green, with the iconic clubhouse in the background.

Photo by Thomas Franz


BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Oakland Hills Country Club is turning 100 years old this summer, and it will be celebrating in style this August.

More than 300 of the world’s top amateur golfers will descend on Oakland Hills next month for the United States Golf Association (USGA) U.S. Amateur Championship.

Competition begins with a two-day stroke play event Aug. 15-16 on the club’s North and South courses.

The field of 312 competitors will then be cut to 64 for a match play tournament Aug. 17-21, with the championship match being a 36-hole affair.

“It’s a busy year at Oakland Hills. We’re celebrating our centennial, and what better way to recognize our past and kick off the next 100 years than with a major championship,” said Lee Juett, the general chairman of the tournament.

It is the 116th edition of the U.S. Amateur Championship and the 11th USGA national championship hosted by Oakland Hills, which last hosted the U.S. Amateur in 2002. Oakland Hills also recently hosted the 2004 Ryder Cup and 2008 PGA Championship.

“Our preparations and planning started in earnest in September 2011,” Juett said. “There are obviously some differences, but make no mistake, from a host club standpoint, the organization and preparations for a U.S. Amateur are basically the same as it would be for a U.S. Open.”

Part of making the Oakland Hills tournament ready is ensuring both courses’ greens and fairways are up for the challenge of slowing down the world’s top players.

Ben Kimball, the USGA director for the tournament, said the North course will measure longer than 6,800 yards, while the South course will measure longer than 7,300 yards. Both will play to a par score of 70.

“The U.S. Amateur course needs to challenge competitors’ physical ability while also testing their mental stability — a ‘Monster,’ perhaps,” Kimball said.

Kimball said their intention is to present a firm and fast course for the golfers, with green speeds averaging a 13 pace and rough lengths averaging between 4 and 5 inches.

Signature holes include the par-3 ninth, which could measure anywhere between 165 and 250 yards depending on weather conditions and pin location. The short par-4 16th hole presents a risk-reward option for competitors daring to clear a water hazard to reach the green on drives. 

The 18th has been converted to a long par 4, with several fairway bunkers guarding against golfers attempting to cut off a sharp dogleg right. 

With a predominantly hot and dry summer occurring in southeast Michigan, weather conditions have already helped to create firm and fast fairways and greens, but thinner rough.

“The rough is really dry and weak at the current time in certain areas, so we may choose to let it grow up a little bit so we have the ability to take it down, as opposed to having it so short that it won’t grow,” Kimball said. “When you get those drying conditions, you get a lot of variability out on the golf course, which is certainly fine to us — that’s part of the challenge of winning the U.S. Amateur.”

Single-day grounds tickets for the tournament cost $20 and are available at www.2016usamateur.com. A weekly pass costs $75, and military personnel and students receive free admission with valid identification.

U.S. Amateur Championship by the numbers
• 7,385: The number of golfers accepted to compete in sectional qualifying tournaments for the U.S. Amateur.

• 7,334: The maximum yardage on the South Course at Oakland Hills.

• 6,849: The maximum yardage on the North Course at Oakland Hills, which will act as co-host for the two-day stroke play rounds.

• 1,250: Volunteers signed up to assist in the operations for the championship.

• 312: Golfers who will compete in the U.S. Amateur, including all sectional qualifiers and those who were exempt from qualifying.

• 101: Sectional qualifying sites, including one in Mexico and one in Canada.

• 64: Golfers who will qualify for the six-round match play portion of the tournament following the two-day stroke play portion.

• 11: This will be the 11th USGA national championship hosted by Oakland Hills Country Club.

• 2.4: Amateur golfers must have a handicap index of 2.4 or lower to compete in sectional qualifiers.

• 1: Havemeyer Trophy, which goes to the winner of the U.S. Amateur.