The R&A has announced Oakland Hills Country Club, Bloomfield, Detroit, and The Lakes, Sydney as two new venues to host International Final Qualifying (IFQ) for the 2007 Open Championship. Qualifying in the U.S. will be on 2 July and in Australia, on 6 February.
Both Clubs have a history stretching back to the early part of the 20th Century with Oakland Hills the elder, being founded in 1916, twelve years earlier than The Lakes.
The design for the Oakland Hills? South and North courses were by Dornoch born Donald Ross, the foremost architect of the day and soon after its opening, the club appointed Walter Hagen, already by then the U.S. Open Champion, as its first professional.
Since these early days, Oakland Hills has been a regular venue for major tournaments and included in an impressive roll-call are six U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships, with another planned for 2008. It also hosted the Ryder Cup in 2004.
In 1928 The Lakes was constructed in a barren waste of sand hills in the outskirts of Sydney and quickly established a reputation as an outstanding test of golf.
The Australian PGA, in 1934, was the first of many major events to pit professional skills against its testing layout with water hazards ever present to trap the wayward shot. Since then it has hosted many major professional championships including three Australian Opens, won by Jack Nicklaus (1964), Greg Norman (1980) and Steve Elkington (1992).
In Africa, Royal Johannesburg & Kensington will host IFQ on 16 and 17 January while in Asia IFQ will be played over the Tanjong course of Sentosa Golf & Country Club, Singapore on 27 and 28 March. For a fourth year, Sunningdale will host the European leg of IFQ on 2 July.
Four places into The Open from IFQ will be available at each of Royal Johannesburg & Kensington, The Lakes and Sentosa while there will be 12 from both Oakland Hills and Sunningdale. These numbers however, may be altered by the Championship Committee after considering the relative strengths of the starting fields.