Tam-O-Shanter Country Club
In West Bloomfield, Michigan, a sprawling suburb of Detroit, Tam-O-Shanter Country Club has been one of the area’s premier private clubs for nearly a century. Tam-O-Shanter’s 18-hole championship golf course was built in 1925 by renowned architect C.A. Allison. The 6,851-yard par-72 course spans 184 acres of hills and hardwood forests.
The privately-owned resort has hosted its fair share of PGA events and even the U.S. Open Qualifiers, but today, Tam-O-Shanter is known for much more than championship golf tournaments. Tam- O-Shanter is also home to weddings and rehearsal dinners, baby showers, corporate meetings, holiday and charity events and much more. With many new renovations, including a remodeled clubhouse, gym and new member lounge, the Tam-O-Shanter legacy is alive and thriving today — even after 90 years.
The landmark took root in 1925 when a group of wealthy Detroit industrialists organized a stag country club. “They brought in one of the world’s foremost golf architects, Captain C.A. Allison, who designed the course,” recounts Bashar Tobia, general manager of Tam-O-Shanter. “The original clubhouse was designed by architect H. Augustus O’Dell, but as many banks failed and the economy fell under in 1933, the original Tam-O-Shanter club dissolved,” he says.
An open welcome
After the Great Depression, the club came back to life and membership began to rebound. Although Tam-O-Shanter is still known as one of the area’s high-end clubs, the club has become more accessible in recent years.
Tobia says the existing membership and staff welcome newcomers with open arms. “One thing that really stands out about us is our membership — we have everyone from juniors to intermediate golfers, seniors to full families,” he describes. “Our niche is that you could come here knowing no one and feel like you’re welcome. Our staff does a really superb job of welcoming people.”
“I just had a family join from Toronto — their Realtor happened to be a member — and they knew no one besides him,” continues Tobia. “They were hesitant at first, but I said, ‘If you don’t feel at home here, I’ll refund every dollar,’ they’re still here, every summer.”
With more than 350 members Tobia says the club’s membership is quite diverse. “We serve a broad demographic,” he says. “We have members in their 20s and we have a member that’s in his 90s. Everyone here is highly vested in the club.”
Recent improvements and Detroit rebuilds
Tam-O-Shanter’s elevated bent grass greens have always created a challenge to golfers of all skill levels. Throughout the years, Tam- O-Shanter has played host to numerous tournaments, including U.S. Open Qualifiers, a Michigan Open Championship, and numerous local PGA and state events.
The course has undergone numerous renovations to improve irrigation and replace an aging irrigation system. Several changes have been made to the original design, including rerouting a number of fairways, adding more interesting and challenging holes, new tees and three restructured greens. The range and chipping area have also been redesigned, creating a practice green.
Tam-O-Shanter also has a newly remodeled club house and state-of-the-art fitness center. “We’ve redone the men’s and women’s locker rooms,” says Tobia. “Our pool project has also drawn a lot of attention; we have cabanas and private lounges around the pool area. We also just met with some designers to start the work on the new men’s lounge. We’ve pretty much remodeled our entire facility, top to bottom.”
The improvements to the greens, club house and member lounge are an effort to keep pace with a growing membership. While most of Tam-O-Shanter’s members reside full-time in Florida and southern states, coming to the region only for summer months, Tobia says the club has seen a great deal of people moving back to Detroit. “Detroit is undergoing a sort of rebirth,” he says. “People who once moved away to New York, Miami, L.A. and Chicago are coming back. We’ve had a huge rebuilding and revamping in the city and more people are seeing the potential in Detroit again.”
Tam-O-Shanter continues to build more charity and community service events into its busy calendar. “We just signed a five-year deal with the NFL to host more sponsored charity golf tournaments,” adds Tobia. “These partnerships are very important to our business. We do a lot of charity events at this club. We’re the organization’s partner in raising funds. If we provide a great event, the best food and fun, then the charity attracts more people and raises more money for the cause. In my opinion, this is one of the most important things we’re involved in as an organization, because in return this makes our membership happy.”
With membership on the up, more annual charity events, and improvements and updates in the works Tam-O-Shanter continues a 90-plus year tradition as one of Detroit’s’ first leading golf and event destinations.