The Monster – Oakland Hills Country Club

The Oakland Hills Country Club in Michigan is one of the crown jewels of American golf. The club is blessed with two Donald Ross designed courses and has played host to many major golf events: The club is a two-time host to the U.S. Amateur, a six-time host to the U.S. Open—including the 1951 championship won by Ben Hogan—and a three-time host to the PGA Championship. It was also the setting of an infamous Ryder Cup that featured the worst pairing in history, when captain Hal Sutton mixed oil with water during the 2004 matches there. Sutton sent Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods out as his first match on the first day in the morning and then again in the alternate shot format in the afternoon. Their record was 0-2, tilting the match toward the European side from the start.

The Monster 1916-2016 : 100 Years of Golf and Glory is the new centennial history of this special club. Written by Vartan Kupelian, with a foreword by Arnold Palmer and an epilogue by Jack Nicklaus the book was published in two editions for the members of the club: a standard edition with a dust jacket and a deluxe edition with a slipcase. Kupelian is a Michigan based golf writer who at one time served as the president of the Golf Writers Association of America.

The deluxe edition of Oakland Hills centennial club history

The new book details Oakland Hills history and includes many beautiful photographs taken by Gary Kellner of both the North and South courses, and of the historic clubhouse. Especially interesting is a color birds-eye view of the entire property taken from a drone or helicopter during the autumn, with all the seasonal colors in peak form, showing off the beauty of the course and its surroundings. Also, an architectural two-page sketch of the clubhouse is stunning. Another stunner is a shot of Ben Hogan taken from behind in 1951, which is eerily similar to the Hy Peskin shot of the wee ice mon taken during his final round at Merion in 1950. The shot is perfectly framed, with Hogan holding his finish position with a crowd encircling him. The book was produced by the Legendary Publishing Group of Florida, which we have highlighted before in a series of meticulously produced and fine golf-related books. Their work remains at the top of the industry.

The cover from the standard edition of The Monster and a photo spread of the clubhouse

The 1951 U.S. Open on Oakland Hills South course yielded only two under par rounds over four days. The course got its name “the Monster,” from Ben Hogan, who shot an amazing 67 on the final day. While best known for the 1951 Open, Oakland Hills has a very rich history going back to its founding days and among other important associations, their first golf professional was Walter Hagen.

There have been three other books published about Oakland Hills: 75 Years at Oakland Hills : A Jubilee Celebration (D & J P12550), was published in 1991 and written by Byron A. Perry. The book is 119 pages with a retrospective by Ben Hogan and an introduction by Arnold Palmer. This book was issued with two versions, one with simply a dust jacket and another with a protective leather slipcase and dustjacket.

Perry also wrote The Ryder Cup Meets the Monster (D & J P9910) that highlights the club, the course and the 35th Ryder Cup match. In addition to the 2004 Ryder Cup, the book also does a good job of providing a summary and pictures from each Ryder Cup dating back to 1927.

The club’s 1991 history, slip cased edition

Heritage of Oakland Hills as of 1982 (D & J H11530) was their first club history and was written by Kay Healy, although it was a modest effort of 23 pages done in illustrated wraps.

In addition to the major championships previously mentioned Oakland Hills also hosted two Senior U.S. Open Championships. The winners of the tournaments could not be a more distinguished tandem: Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, making their foreword and epilogue to the centennial history even more poignant.

Congratulations to the club for celebrating their 100-year anniversary in such style.

— John Sabino

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Valuable Book Group specializes in rare, collectible and valuable golf books. We are avid collectors ourselves obsessed not only with playing the game, but also its history and the literature of the game.
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