The Detroit Golf Club — Host of the Rocket Mortgage Classic
I recently had the good fortune to be invited to the media day for upcoming Rocket Mortgage Classic. To be held at the Detroit Golf Club, the Rocket Mortgage Classic will be the first PGA TOUR event held in the City of Detroit (although it is not the first in the Detroit area — that distinction goes to the Motor City Open).
The Rocket Mortgage Classic will be played June 25 – 30. More info.
In addition to letting area media know about plans for the tournament, including updates on the field, Area 313 and the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s charitable partners, the media was offered a chance to take a look at the clubhouse and play the course.
Detroit Golf Club is blessed to have not one, but two classic Donald Ross designed courses. The club dates to 1899; the two Ross courses were built in 1913.
Alec Ross, the brother of Donald, served as Detroit Golf Club professional from 1929 to 1945. Horton Smith, winner of the first Masters, was club professional from 1945 to 1963.
The North Course, where the Rocket Mortgage Classic will be played (with the exception of the first hole), is a par 72 coming in at 6, 936 yards. The South Course is a par 68 and stretches to 5, 967 yards.
For the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the course will play to 7, 300 yards.
Horace Rackham paid $100,000 to build the two courses. Rackham, one of the original stockholders of the Ford Motor Company, was a significant Detroit area philanthropist. He donated his law library to the University of Michigan Law School, The Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University is named for him, along with the Rackham Building where the school is located.
Rackham also is the namesake of the Detroit-owned Rackham Golf Club, which is located next to the Detroit Zoo, of which Rackham was a benefactor. Rackham Golf Club originally was a Donald Ross design, and like Detroit Golf Club, features an Albert Kahn-designed clubhouse.
Detroit Golf Club’s Albert Kahn-designed clubhouse is of historic significance. Kahn, known as the “Architect of Detroit,” is the designer of many of Detroit’s most iconic and distinguished buildings, including the Fisher Building, The Detroit News and Free Press Buildings, and the Highland Park Ford Plant.
Kahn also designed the Willow Run bomber plant, a critical part of the WWII Arsenal of Democracy. Located near Ypsilanti, Michigan, Willow Run had 3,500,000 square feet of factory space, and an aircraft assembly line over a mile (1600 m) long.
My home course, Green Oaks, is located near Willow Run, which now houses the Yankee Air Museum. On many days, golfers at Green Oaks are treated to a flyover by a vintage bomber that was constructed at Willow Run.
The Detroit Golf Club also is historically significant for the neighborhood that surrounds it. From the beginning the DGC was conceived as a golf-residential community. When Donald Ross laid out the course, he also planned for 149 housing lots adjacent to the two 18 hole courses.
The Detroit Golf Club Homes Community on five streets surrounding the course, is certainly one of the earliest examples of a lifestyle that has become popular today.
As television viewers and spectators will see during the Rocket Mortgage Classic, there are currently 126 architecturally unique homes that count the Detroit Golf Club as their back yard.
The Rocket Mortgage Classic will use #1 on the South Course, and 2 – 18 on the North Course. Pars and yardages are yet to be determined by the PGA TOUR.
Detroit Golf Club is not a particularly long course by modern standards, but makes up for it with tight, tree-lined fairways and small, elevated greens. The rough was brutal. Nonetheless, the pros should shoot some relatively low scores here. But that’s ok. Low scores are fun for spectators and should be a welcome respite for the pros between majors.
A photo tour of the Detroit Golf Club’ North course follows: