Stan Aldridge, who nearly bought Red Wings before thriving in golf industry, dies at 84

Detroit News

Stan Aldridge, “Mr. A,” owned Indianwood in Lake Orion and the Lakewood Shores resort in Oscoda. He was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2005.

Stan Aldridge took a shot at the Detroit Red Wings, before he took a big swing at the golf business.

He ended up coming up aces.

Aldridge, a Bloomfield Hills resident who revitalized storied Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion and also built and owned the three-course Lakewood Shores Golf Resort in Oscoda in northeastern Michigan, died Friday, surrounded by family, according to an online obituary. He was 84.

Aldridge also founded Canterbury Village, a popular collection of specialty shops in Lake Orion.

“My dad always taught me you have to work hard to get what you’re after,” one of Aldridge’s sons, Kevin, once told veteran golf writer Jack Berry.

And work hard, Aldridge did, all his life.

Aldridge started out in the automobile industry, as owner of The Corvette Shop in Detroit, before he bought his father’s manufacturing business, Aldridge Products, and developed SA industries, according to his obituary. A longtime fan of hockey — his three sons played, including two collegiately — Aldridge then turned his sights on buying the Detroit Red Wings from Bruce Norris in 1981, but it was a competitive process. Interested parties supposedly including former Detroit Lions linebacker Joe Schmidt and then-Michigan athletic director Don Canham.

In the end, a local pizza man named Mike Ilitch proved the winning bidder, outbidding Aldridge, and buying the Red Wings for $8 million (they’re worth over $1 billion today).

“It’s a good thing I didn’t get it,” Aldridge once said. “I would’ve made George Steinbrenner look like a weenie.”

Undeterred, Aldridge eyed the golf industry, and in 1981, he bought a storied but rundown club in Lake Orion called Indianwood. He immediately began making renovations, to the course, clubhouse and other infrastructure. Wife Sue and their six children worked at the course.

Then, Aldridge decided to build another 18 holes, and hired eight-time PGA Tour winner Jerry Pate and architect Bob Cupp. a former disciple of Jack Nicklaus’ design business, to handle the project. Indianwood’s “New Course” opened in 1988, to rave reviews. It was runner-up as the nation’s best new private course, according to the prestigious Golf Digest rankings.

Cupp also led the restoration of Indianwood’s “Old Course,” which dates to the 1920s, and hosted the 1989 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Betsy King, setting attendance records. The U.S. Women’s Open returned in 1994 — a late replacement for another club, which was stripped of the championship because it didn’t allow female members — with Patty Sheehan winning. Sheehan, like King, became a World Golf Hall of Famer.

(That was the last women’s major held in Michigan; the U.S. Women’s Open returns to Michigan in 2031 and 2042, at Bloomfield Township’s Oakland Hills.)

Indianwood was officially back.

“We became caretakers of a unique and unrecognized piece of history,” Aldridge once said, reflecting on his original goal of returning the prestige to Indianwood. “We wanted to make Indianwood more appealing so people could see it for what it was originally and is now again. There is a great pride for my family and the membership to be a part of history like this. We are all proud of this grand old club.”

The United States Golf Association returned to Indianwood in 2012, for the U.S. Senior Open, won by Roger Chapman, the biggest men’s tournament held at the club since the Western Open in 1930.

Indianwood also has hosted several Michigan Opens and Michigan PGAs, the latter held at the club early in Aldridge’s ownership, from 1982-91.

In 1986, Aldridge expanded his golf portfolio when he purchased The Serradella Golf Course in Oscoda, the anchor of what now is the Lakewood Shores resort. In 1993, The Gailes, a Scottish links-inspired course, opened on the property, to huge accolades. It was the first course built by Kevin Aldridge, one of Stan’s sons. Kevin then built Blackshire, a tree-lined course inspired by famed Pine Valley, to give Lakewood Shores 54 holes. The resort has long been a more-affordable golf destination than the typical Michigan hot spots of Boyne, Traverse City, Gaylord and the like, and grew a loyal following from Canadian golfers.

In 2005, Aldridge was inducted into the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame. He was an early supporter of the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame, founded in 1981.

“Since rescuing Indianwood Golf & Country Club and turning it into one of the jewels of Michigan golf,” his Hall-of-Fame bio reads, “Stan Aldridge has made sure that the jewel hasn’t been hidden.”

Aldridge, born Boyd Standart Aldridge in Detroit on Dec. 21, 1938 and long known as “Mr. A” around town, also was big into charity endeavors, continuing to display a love of hockey by sponsoring local amateur teams. He also established a college-scholarship fund for his Indianwood employees.

He also was pivotal in Lake Orion native Tom Gillis’ PGA Tour career. Aldridge gave Gillis a place to play and practice in Indianwood, and sponsored him his first year on the PGA Tour, in 2003, and competed on the PGA Tour until his late 40s, just a few years ago, winning more than $5 million in 188 career starts.

Gillis now plays on the PGA Tour’s Champions Tour, for players 50 and older.

“I wouldn’t have made it on the Tour without him,” Gillis said. “Treated me like a son.”

Aldridge and wife Sue — they were to celebrate 60 years of marriage later this month, after meeting at The Corvette Shop — also opened Canterbury Village in 1993, and that has become a popular Lake Orion destination for shopping, food, weddings, banquets, festivals and more.

Aldridge is survived by Sue; children Kirk, Kevin, Kelley, Kimberly, Keith and Katie; 16 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. A funeral is scheduled for Thursday at Indianwood.

In lieu of flowers, the Aldridge family recommends donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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