The King’s Foundation and its donors are mobilizing to help Oakland HIlls after the fire | Golf News and Tour Information
As Oakland Hills begins the process of rebuilding its iconic clubhouse which was destroyed by fire last month, the club’s displaced employees will themselves receive much-needed restoration, courtesy of the King.
The Arnold and Winnie Palmer Foundation announced an effort last week to raise funds from its list of donors to support Oakland Hills employees whose jobs have been impacted by the fire. All funds raised would be matched by the foundation.
In less than a week, these sums now total more than $32,000. As a note from the foundation to its contributors reads: “In carrying on the legacy of the Palmers, we are proud to support our friends in golf, as well as to care for those who are an integral part of a place important to the story of this great game”. “, noting that this fundraising effort was specifically aimed “to honor both the historic connection between Arnold Palmer and Oakland Hills by supporting the dedicated individuals who have helped make it a national treasure”.
Palmer won the US Senior Open at Oakland Hills in 1981, becoming the first player to win the US Amateur, US Open and US Senior Open. Palmer has had a long history of golf with the area, winning his US Amateur at the Country Club of Detroit in 1954. Of course, Palmer has also had a long history with Detroit’s auto industry, including his sponsorship deal with Cadillac which started in 1974.
The money raised by the foundation should be included in the fundraising campaign set up by ClubsHelp, the charity created in 2020 to link the efforts of private clubs with the support of local charities. ClubsHelp, a philanthropic partner of the National Club Association, set up an employee relief fund for displaced Oakland Hills workers just days after last month’s fire. Since then, over $105,000 has been raised. The Palmer Foundation effort and the ClubHelps fund continue to receive donations.
“Our donors really wanted to help Oakland Hills employees,” said Jason Peevy, Vice President of Outreach for the Arnold and Winnie Palmer Foundation. “It came together quickly after the fire because of Mr. Palmer’s relationship with Oakland Hills and Detroit. The foundation’s leadership came up with the idea of a $10,000 match for members of Arnie’s Army and golf fans during the week of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. It seems like the kind of thing Mr. Palmer would have wanted. We were blown away by the response, and when the initial goal was met and surpassed, management agreed to continue matching donations dollar for dollar until the tournament’s final blow on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in Oakland Hills, where much of the 90,000 square foot clubhouse is surrounded by privacy fences, the decision to rebuild is already in the works. Club chairman Rick Palmer told the Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle: “The board have unanimously come to an easy decision and have determined that the restored and rebuilt clubhouse will be a replica of what was the iconic clubhouse before the fire,” he said, estimating that reconstruction could take two full years. “In fact, our members and the national golf community have really made this decision very easy for us because of the outpouring of its uniqueness, even our golf course architect, Gil Hanse, who wants our club- house matches its magnificent restoration work.”
According to reports, Oakland Hills Country Club employs about 25 people full-time during the winter months, but the club’s payroll normally increases to about 300 people in the summer.