Oakland Hills Country Club’s South Course has made a meteoric rise in Golf Magazine’s (Golf.com) World Top 100 Golf Courses rankings list, as it celebrates the completion of an extraordinary restoration project and improved course conditioning, through the support of Bernhard and Company.
The South Course at Oakland Hills has played host to 17 major golf championships in its illustrious history, including six US Opens, three PGA Championships and the 35th Ryder Cup in 2004. The restoration project has allowed the course, once again, to offer its originally intended playing style, with larger fairway landing areas and greens. That, coupled with pristine conditioning, has enabled the famous course – nicknamed ‘The Monster’ – to rise a phenomenal and unmatched 41 places in the new rankings list, moving into 31st position.
Following the renovation work carried out by renowned course architects, Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner, Directory of Agronomy, Phil Cuffare, and his team of turf professionals were tasked with elevating the conditioning on the South Course to its highest ever level. With industry-leading grinding equipment and educational support provided by Bernhard and Company, the team was able to work with profound efficiency in delivering attention to detail mirroring that of the very best courses in the world.
Cuffare said: “We are very excited about the recognition that our famed South Course is receiving after the completion of its extensive restoration. To bring back to life something that had been lost for so long is a great feeling and we are continuing to express that through our conditioning efforts.
“The ultimate compliment to great golf course architecture is great conditioning. As such, the most important aspect of our agronomic programmes is turf health, and the cornerstone of achieving that is using our reel and bedknife grinding machinery to sharpen mowing equipment used to maintain our fine turf areas.
“The ability to achieve the perfect cut in an efficient and precise manner is what separates Bernhard and Company from others. We have very high expectations that need to be met and Bernhard is the partner that helps us to achieve those goals.”
The project involved the course being largely stripped back to the bare soil, to make way for a total revamp. When managing the growth and health of the new turf, it was more important than ever to ensure that all grass cutting was carried out with perfectly sharp blades to prevent any damage to the young plants.
What’s more, each hole was covered with sand in traditional USGA specification, meaning that mower blades were constantly subjected to sand damage. However, with the Bernhard and Company Express Dual 4250 Reel Grinder and Anglemaster 4500 Bedknife Grinder machines in the workshop, the maintenance teams were able to sharpen blades as regularly as necessary to ensure that they were operating at maximum efficiency as the course began to blossom.
The latest Golf Magazine Top 100 ranking reaffirms Bernhard and Company as the dominant grinder supplier to the world’s best courses. In addition to Oakland Hills, Bernhard and Company are also the official grinding machine provider for over half of the courses named in the list, including major championship venues all around the globe. Impressively, Bernhard and Company machinery is used by 13 of the world’s top 20 courses and seven of the top 10.