It’s Official: The PGA TOUR Is Coming To Detroit

It's Official: The PGA TOUR Is Coming To Detroit

It’s Official: The PGA TOUR Is Coming To Detroit

What has been an open secret in Michigan for some time now has been made official: The PGA TOUR is coming to Detroit.

Quicken Loans and the TOUR signed a long term agreement to bring a tournament to the Detroit beginning in June 2019.  The Detroit Golf Club is expected to serve as the host club. Recently, the club’s membership voted to host a tour event at its Donald Ross-designed course.

“Professional golf belongs in Detroit. The Motor City – and the entire state of Michigan – have long served as a premier golf destination with some of the best courses in the country. We will be working with the PGA TOUR to make the Detroit stop one of the most exciting and engaging events on the professional golf calendar,” said Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner.

“Quicken Loans has been a tremendous PGA TOUR partner for several years now, making an impact through the innovative spirit and community-first mindset the organization and its leaders bring to every endeavor,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan.  “We’re thrilled to take this new step in our partnership and bring a PGA TOUR event to the great city of Detroit.”

This will be the first-ever PGA TOUR stop in the city of Detroit (although it is not the first in the Detroit Area). Michigan’s last regular PGA TOUR event was the Buick Open, which ended after 2009.

Quicken Loans is partnering with Intersport, a leader in sports and entertainment marketing, to oversee the operation of the tournament, as well as create numerous related attractions and festivities that are planned to take place throughout the city of Detroit during the event.

Quicken Loans has played a significant role in the revitalization of the City of Detroit. Over the years, the Detroit based company has invested heavily in the city’s neighborhoods. It is Detroit’s largest employer, with more than 17,000 employees in the city’s downtown. The company has invested $150 million in Detroit, and employees have spent more than 500,000 hours volunteering.

I, for one, could not be more excited. Assuming that the LPGA Volvik Championship returns in some form (with or without Volvik), this means that Michigan will have seven (eight) professional golf events in 2019 and for the near future.

  1. The Meijer LPGA Classic in Grand Rapids (LPGA)
  2. The LPGA Volvik Championship in Ann Arbor (LPGA)
  3. The Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational in Midland (LPGA)
  4. The Quicken Loans Championship in Detroit (PGA TOUR)
  5. The Ally Challenge in Grand Blanc/Flint (PGA TOUR Champions)
  6. The Island Resort Championship in the Upper Peninsula (Symetra Tour)
  7. The Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship in Battle Creek (Symetra Tour)
  8. The Kitchenaid Senior PGA Championship in Benton Harbor (PGA TOUR Champions/PGA of America)
    1. note that this is not in 2019, but will return in 2020. It’s an every-other-year affair.

In addition, the long-running LPGA tournament in Toledo, now known as the Marathon Classic (and formerly the Jamie Farr), is less than an hour’s drive from much of Southeastern Michigan.

While at some level, I worry about the ability to support and sustain these tournaments, I will note that all (except for the Volvik) seem to have stable and deep-pocketed sponsors. Meijer is a regional chain of superstores that seems very happy with the results of its tournament. Dow is an industrial giant. So is Kitchenaid (Whirlpool). Quicken Loans is no doubt in for the long haul. Ally is a strong financial company. The Symetra Tour events probably will hang around as well. Those sponsors are not as deep pocketed, but Symetra Tour events are likely not terribly expensive.

It is the ancillary partners that give me the most concern. Every tournament I have attended has a significant number of “partners” to the title and/or presenting sponsors, who do things like buy pavilions, sponsor holes, help with the pro-am, and so forth. The Volvik LPGA Championship had 95 such partners this year, ranging from providers of bottled water and other beverages (Absopure and Faygo) to recycling partners (Schupan) to parking (Washtenaw Farm Council). Golf tournaments have a lot of moving (and not inexpensive) parts, and they need sponsors to help defray the costs. Without those sponsors, there would be no money left over for charity — a tournament’s raison d’etre.

I remain hopeful that Michigan, a golf-mad state, can nurture and grow its professional golf footprint.

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