A Fan’s View Of The Rocket Mortgage Classic At Detroit Golf Club
Over the years, I have been to a number of professional golf events, including a US Open, a PGA Championship, two Senior Opens, a US Amateur, two regular PGA TOUR events (the Colonial and the old Kemper Open) and three different LPGA tournaments. Of these, the Detroit Golf Club — host of the Rocket Mortgage Classic — is by far the most pleasant place I’ve found to take in a golf tournament.
Detroit Golf Club has several things going for it.
First, much of the course is tree-lined. That means that even on a hot day (as it was on Thursday), there is ample cover from the sun. Every hole has several shady trees, and on the front nine, the length of nearly every fairway is in shadow. I spent the entire afternoon walking from shaded area to shaded area in relative comfort.
Second, Detroit Golf Club is almost perfectly flat. With no hills to exhaust the walker, getting around it’s easy. Still, my Garmin fitness tracker recorded just over eight miles of walking for me today.
And even though it’s flat, the greens are generally elevated, so you can see what’s going on over the heads of the people in front of you.
Detroit Golf Club is an old school course (designed by Donald Ross in 1916), so the holes are close together. From one shady position, you can often see the action on two or three holes.
From a competitive point of view, Detroit Golf Club is likely to produce some very low scores. On the first day, the leader was nine under. I do not, however, think that is a bad thing. Fans enjoy seeing birdies and eagles. Fireworks on the course will just make the entire event more exciting.
The organizers have done a good job in providing public grandstands throughout the course. The best vantage points are of course reserved for corporate high-spenders, but there are still plenty of good places for general ticket holders. Public grandstands are near the first tee and ninth green, and near the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventh holes. Titos Vodka has a bar near the ninth green for the particularly thirsty.
For patrons who have had enough of watching golf, the “Fan Zone” has some nice diversions. Local firms such as DTE, Shinola and Bell Tire have tents with activities, as do more national companies such as Rocket Mortgage (naturally), Charles Schwab, Optishot and Bridgestone.
Rocket Mortgage charities Midnight Golf and the First Tee of Detroit havetents where you can learn about their programs.
A large air conditioned tent offers a variety of Rocket Mortgage Classic logo apparel and gear. I was intrigued by offerings from Greyson Clothiers, a high end company that has recently moved into downtown Detroit.
Patrons can get photos of themselves with a miniature replica of the Spirit of Detroit statue. The original bronze statue is 26 feet tall and is located in the heart of Detroit off Woodward Avenue.
Another popular photo opportunity was with a large Old English “D” in front of the .. The Old English “D” is the iconic symbol of Detroit’s beloved Tigers. It’s a nice touch by the Rocket Mortgage Classic organizers to bring all of this together in a celebration of the city.
Behind the “D” is the Shots For Heroes area, where fans can take swings at a target sixty yards away to raise money for homeless veterans. Fans who get a hole-in-one will walk away with $2,500.
I found the volunteers to be exceptionally friendly. I was greeted at the entrance by a lady who wanted to point out all of the places I could go. When I left, one of the security guards thanked me for coming and wished me a safe trip home.
A couple of place for improvement:
First, the course could really use some public water stations. I know that they want to sell bottles of beverages, but on a really hot day, it would be a nice gesture for people to be able to refill their bottles. It might prevent some heatstroke.
Second, they could stand to have some more signs around. I found myself answering a lot of “do you know what hole this is?” questions. I think they figured a guy with a giant honkin’ camera lens might just know what’s what. They were right, of course. I’ve played the Detroit Golf Club, and having spent a couple of days there already, I have my bearings.
Finally, the Rocket Mortgage Classic could use a tent with a sort of mini-museum, extolling the history of the Detroit Golf Club. I wonder how many knew that it’s a Donald Ross design (or even who Donald Ross is); that Horton Smith, the first Masters’ winner was its pro; that three of its pros over the years were Major winners; that the clubhouse was designed by Albert Kahn, the “Architect of Detroit.” The club has plenty of room for another such tent. I’d love to be assigned the job of writing the text for the displays.