Tom Watrous' memories of Oakland Hills reach back to when he was five years old and his father, Al, was professional. Pete Jackson's memories go back to the 1951 Open when he and his brother, Mike, sold lemonade from a stand by their house behind the third green. Their lives have been entwined with the club on Maple Road ever since.
"I remember playing nine holes with my dad, Johnny Osgood, who was a member, and the fella who played the bellcap in the Philip Morris cigarette ads_the little guy who would walk around in a bellcap uniform saying 'Call for Philip Morris!' I was nine years old and about as tall as he was," Tom Watrous said.
"We had quite a few people following us and I hit a good drive on the eighth hole and then I had an uphill lie_and I whiffed it. I was so embarrassed."
Crowds following Tom's father weren't unusual at Oakland Hills and neither was the appearance of celebrities, especially the game's best golfers.
"Walter Hagen and Tommy Armour would come to play and Dad would beat them_no one could beat him at Oakland Hills. He had so many rounds in the low and mid-60s that you couldn't count them. He averaged in the high 60s through the years."
Al Watrous was Michigan's preeminent golfer. He won the Michigan Open a record six times, the first time in 1926 and the last in 1949. He won the Michigan PGA championship an incredible nine times and with an even more incredible spread_he won the inaugural in 1922 and won his last in 1954 with titles in four separate decades. Al died in 1983, two months before his 85th birthday.
Pete Jackson's father built a home behind the third green in 1950 and Pete was 12 at the time of 1951 Open.
"Johnny Bulla and Fred Haas stayed at our house. My brother (Mike) and I had a lemonade stand and Ben Hogan bought from us all four rounds.
"I remember the rough on the second hole being almost knee-deep. I found 22 balls in that stuff before the tournament started. It was aptly named 'The Monster.' "
Pete won the club championship in 1965 with rounds of 74-71-69 on the South Course and his best rounds have been 67s playing to par of 72. During major championships, the par 5 eighth and 12th holes are turned into long par 4s for a par of 70.
As chairman of the Greens Committee, Jackson was instrumental in hiring Steve Glossinger as Golf Course Superintendent. This will be Glossinger's second season at Oakland Hills and he had a rude introduction last summer, one of the worst in memory for growing and keeping grass because of heavy rains and abnormally high temperatures. Glossinger came to Oakland Hills from Point O'Woods in Benton Harbor where he was regarded as one of the best superintendents in the state.