Located 35 miles north of Detroit, Indianwood Golf & Country Club was once a resort haven for the wealthy of Detroit to enjoy a respite from the grind of urban life. During the roaring 1920s, noted architect Wilfred Reid, who had designed The Olympic Club’s Lake Course among others, took the piece of land and laid out the historic Old Course.
The original barns on the property were the basis for the clubhouse and the club quickly grew with the installation of a landing strip for airplanes in 1928. That same year, George Von Elm became the first amateur to win the Michigan Open held at Indianwood.
Two years later, the 1930 Western Open was conducted at Indianwood, with Gene Sarazen taking home the winner’s check of $500.
During World War II, a major change came to Indianwood when businessman Carl Ruebelman bought the club and converted it to a private facility. The facility was open year-round, with members having the opportunity to reserve guest rooms in the clubhouse. The Michigan PGA Championship came calling in 1948 and 1949, with Horton Smith and future U.S. Open champion Ed Furgol taking the titles, respectively. Smith, who served as president of the PGA of America during the early 1950s, brought a lot of attention to Michigan golf and is a member of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.
In the 1960s and ‘70s, Indianwood slowly slid into oblivion among Detroit-area clubs. When Reubelman passed away, the club and course fell into desrepair.
But a new direction took shape on Feb. 20, 1981 when four writers were invited by golf consultant Jim Dowling to visit Indianwood and meet the new owner. While the clubhouse and course needed a major renovation, Stan Aldridge had a plan to revive the facility. While Aldridge didn’t play the game regularly, he had a blueprint to return Indianwood to its glory days. His uncles had been Indianwood members and he had been out to the club on many occasions for Sunday dinners, so Aldridge knew it was a special place.
After turning around several companies, Aldridge turned his attention to Indianwood, hiring architect Bill Zmistowski to handle the course renovation. Zmistowski was the great grandson of Reid, the course’s original designer.
The renovation was a family project. Sue Aldridge, Stan’s wife and an interior decorator, handled many of the aesthetic changes to the club. Sons Kirk and Kevin both helped manage the day-to-day operations of the club.
In 1989, Indianwood returned to the national spotlight by hosting the U.S. Women’s Open won by Betsy King. Five years later, Indianwood again hosted the Women’s Open with Patty Sheehan winning her second title. Aldridge’s daughter, Katie, was heavily involved with that championship.
Kevin, with his golf course construction background, has assisted with some of the changes made to the Old Course for the 2012 U.S. Senior Open. Daughter Kelley was the construction superintendent of the spectacular 30,000 square foot clubhouse and locker room addition that was completed prior to the 1989 U.S. Women’s Open. She will be involved with outside-the-ropes preparations for the 2012 Senior Open.
Today, Indianwood is a 36-hole facility featuring the Old and New courses.