PGA Tour Back in Michigan with Rocket Mortgage Classic

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 16: Rickie Fowler of the United States plays a second shot on the second hole during the final round of the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 16, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 16: Rickie Fowler of the United States plays a second shot on the second hole during the final round of the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 16, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Michigan is once again hosting a big-time men’s professional golf event as it has done for many of the last 115 years. This week the PGA Tour returns with the Rocket Mortgage Classic at historic Detroit Golf Club.

Whether he’s the official or unofficial host, Rickie Fowler will definitely be there, orange and all. Alongside him at the inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic will be Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, recently minted U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland and last week’s winner, Chez Reavie.

All five are in the featured groups as released by the PGA Tour: Group #1: Dustin Johnson, Chez Reavie, Patrick Reed. Group #2 : Gary Woodland, Keith Mitchell, Brandt Snedeker. Group #3: Rickie Fowler, Charles Howell III, Kevin Kisner. Group #4: Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, Billy Horschel. They will join the thousands who have played top-level, professional golf in Michigan.

The state has a lot of important golf history, having has hosted six U.S. Opens and six PGA’s. Perhaps the most famous of them all was Hogan’s 1951 U. S. Open victory at Oakland Hills, the site of all the Michigan U.S. Opens.

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“I’m glad that I brought this course, this monster, to its knees,” Hogan reportedly said after winning.

It was Hogan’s second U.S. Open title in a row, and both were after he recovered from a monumentally debilitating auto accident.

The last three PGA Championships in Michigan were also played at Oakland Hills. Gary Player won the title in 1972, David Graham, in 1979 and Padraig Harrington, in 2008.

The Ryder Cup was played at Oakland Hills in 2004, with Europe defeating the U.S.. That was the year of the infamous Tiger Woods/ Phil Mickelson pairing that didn’t work.

However, high-level golf first came to Michigan 100 years earlier. In 1904, the Western Open, considered a major at that time, was played at Kent Country Club in Grand Rapids. Willie Anderson, the only golfer to win three U.S. Opens in a row, won it.

In 1911, 1922 and 1930, the Western Open was held at three different courses in Michigan with Gene Sarazen winning the 1930 version at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Michigan. Then it rotated out of the state until the late 1950s and early 1960s with Arnold Palmer winning in 1961 at Blythefield Country Club, Belmont, Michigan. The last Western Open in Michigan was in 1962.

While the Western Open being a frequent visitor, people wanted more professional golf. Three years after WWII ended, the Motor City Open debuted. Ben Hogan won the first one played at Meadowbrook Country Club near Northville, Michigan in 1948.

The tournament moved around the state, and interestingly, it was not held every year. It was played in four different locations with winners like Cary Middlecoff and Bob “He’s got no shot!” Rosberg, who later became a commentator and roving reporter for ABC.

Then, in 1958, Buick got involved with its own professional golf tournament. That was, more or less, the end of the Motor City Open.

The Buick Open was played most years at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc (Flint), Michigan. Many Illustrious players won the event, including Tiger Woods, in 2002, 2006 and 2009.

Buick was one of the longest running sponsors of the PGA Tour until the financial crisis sapped General Motor’s ability to continue sponsoring that event or any events. Now, a decade after recession devastated the state, Michigan is recovering.

Newer companies, like Rocket Mortgage, part of Quicken Loans, have moved to Detroit, and the city is rebuilding. Quicken Loans and later Rocket Mortgage sponsored The National in Washington, D.C., hosted by Tiger Woods.

However, they really wanted to move the tournament to Detroit where their corporate headquarters are located. Finally, they got their wish with the change in the 2019 golf calendar.

Rocket Mortgage Classic will be played at The Detroit Golf Club and will merge the present with the past. The club is old, dating to 1899. The course, though, wasn’t opened until 1906. At that point, it was six-holes. By 1916, two Donald Ross courses greeted members. Two years later, the clubhouse was finished.

As was common until the Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer era, most touring professionals also had club professional positions. Horton Smith, for example, became the professional at The Detroit Golf Club shortly after the end of WWII, after being discharged from what was then called the Army Air Corps.

Smith won the first Masters in 1934 and third Masters in 1936 as well as 29 additional tournaments starting in 1928. His last Tour victory was in 1941 and his last professional title was in 1954.

dark. Next. Rocket Mortgage Classic: Power ranking the top 10 at Detroit Golf Club

Now, the top golf stars of today mesh past and present as they tee it up in the Wolverine state, this time on the fairways of historic Detroit Golf Club.