I don't golf. I never even watched golf before I started dating my husband. When I finally picked up a golf club, it was as a summer associate in law school, trying to play along with the partners. I soon realized that I was better suited to have a few drinks at the 19th hole than swing a club. Every few years, my husband thinks it would be fun if we golfed together. I usually make it through around 6 holes before remembering that I excel at driving the golf cart.
For all I know, my husband could swing a golf club before he could walk. He could barely speak when my friend Mike Hainer (of blessed memory) popped the question.
“So, would you be interested in joining Oakland Hills?”
He tried to play it cool — but for someone who loved golf so much, his high school job at Nevada Bob’s — this was a dream come true.
I would have thought it would have been a misfit for a Jewish girl who doesn’t golf or play tennis to join any country club, much less this country club. But a few months later, there we were — members, making our presence known on the South Course and at the toddler pool, respectively.
I was not the driving force behind us joining Oakland Hills, but over the years, I came to feel at home there. Despite the stuffiness I feared, I found Oakland Hills incredibly welcoming. Some nights, we would sit out on the chairs overlooking the 18th green, watching the golfers come in and drink the usual — one glass of wine and two sippy cups of chocolate milk. There was a puppet show in the living room, a haunted house built in the boardroom. Crafts and coloring and other endeavors to make families like mine welcome.
In 2016, the US Amateur came to Oakland Hills and I, formerly unable to distinguish birdie from bogey, worked the tournament. I greeted golfers and families as they arrived at the club. I spent the weekend enthusiastically following golfers, chatting with anxious parents. I loved every moment of it.
When I saw the images of the clubhouse — the second largest wood structure in Michigan, after the Grand Hotel — engulfed in flames, I was surprised at the emotion I felt. I was relieved no one was injured in the blaze. It occurred to me that, while the fire won’t erase the memories that we have made over the past 12 years, I wish it didn’t take a catastrophe to make me realize how much I have fallen in love with the place and the game, even if I still don't golf.