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Workers replace the sand on one of the rebuilt fairways bunkers on the 12th hole of the South Course. (Photo: Oakland Hills Country Club)

Jones' renovations result in longer, more menacing 'Monster'

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Thanks to Rees Jones' recently completed work at Oakland Hills Country Club, the field for the 90th PGA Championship will face a South Course that has been lengthened by 346 yards and now features narrower fairways and more-penal bunkers.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- 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 Country Club has hosted six U.S. Open Championships, two PGA Championships, two U.S. Senior Opens and one Ryder Cup.

In August 2008, a world-class field competing in the 90th PGA Championship will find a longer and even more challenging Oakland Hills.

"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 the enhancements of 1950 by Jones' father, Robert Trent Jones Sr.

"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 improvements in players' skill levels and the rapid changes and improvements in both the golf ball and golf equipment, Jones focused Oakland Hills' renovations on several areas to challenge today's greatest players.

"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. Oakland Hills' membership, at the same time, has never missed a step in continuing to enhance a world-class venue like 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 6,974 yards in hosting the 1996 U.S. Open, has been lengthened by 346 yards to 7,445 today. Jones 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, as well as made changes to greenside bunkers on eight holes. Additionally, changes were made to the ponds featured on the seventh and 16th holes, where the longer and more aggressive players will require a well-placed drive.

The pond at No. 7 has been enlarged along with the addition of 38 yards and redesigned fairway bunkering on the left has made this perhaps the most beautiful and intimidating hole at Oakland Hills.

There also was a dramatic makeover for the par-4 11th, which played 398 yards in 1996 and is now a 455-yarder featuring 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 has been 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 Aug. 7-10, 2008, there will be a worldwide viewing audience to complement thousands of spectators at the 90th PGA Championship at Oakland Hills to witness how a new generation of talented professionals rises to again challenge the "monster."

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 United States and in assisting with establishing Michigan as a premier golf destination. The site of 16 national and major championships (6 U.S. Opens, two U.S. Senior Opens, U.S. Women's Amateur, U.S. Men's Amateur, Western Open, Carling World Open; the 35th Ryder Cup in 2004; and three PGA Championships, including the 90th PGA Championship in 2008), the membership is proud of their heritage and how these Championships benefit the local and state economy as well as its neighbors.

About The PGA of America

The PGA of America is the world's largest working sports organization comprised of 28,000 men and women golf Professionals who are the recognized experts in growing, teaching and managing the game of golf while serving millions of people throughout its 41 PGA Sections nationwide. Since its founding in 1916, The PGA of America has enhanced its leadership position in a $62 billion-a-year industry by growing the game of golf through its premier spectator events, world-class education and training programs, significant philanthropic outreach initiatives, and award-winning golf promotions. Today's PGA Professional is the public's link to the game, serving an essential role in the operation of golf facilities throughout the country.

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