Double comeback: Quicken Loans sponsor new PGA TOUR event in Detroit
May 30, 2018
By Jim McCabe, PGATOUR.COM
- May 30, 2018
- A view of Detroit Golf Club, where the new PGA TOUR event is expected to be played. (Courtesy of Detroit Golf Club)
When there are two comebacks within the framework of the same story, you have twice the reason to celebrate. You also have exactly what’s at the heart of a new PGA TOUR event.
Beginning in 2019, the event – title sponsored by Quicken Loans, the nation’s largest mortgage lender – will be held in Detroit. It is expected to be staged at Detroit Golf Club, which would mark the first time a PGA TOUR tournament would be played within Detroit.
The scenario presents a pair of comeback storylines whereby each side will be in position to fulfill missions for community improvement.
For the PGA TOUR, it will mark a return to the Detroit area, where it held annual tournaments for 45 years between 1958 and 2009 behind Buick’s sponsorship. The economic downturn led to Buick’s withdrawal, “but it’s a market we always wanted to go back to and we’re thrilled that we will now have that chance,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan.
It is, however, the other slice of the “comeback” story – Quicken Loans’ company-wide vision to help revitalize its hometown of Detroit – that provides the significance of this announcement. Proceeds from the Detroit tournament will benefit what is widely seen as one of the country’s most dramatic revivals of a major urban core.
“This tournament will not only bring together some of the best golfers in the world, it also highlights the breathtaking revitalization happening throughout Detroit,” said Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner. “There is an undeniable energy in the city that we are eager to showcase. This event will introduce hundreds of thousands of visitors to the vibrant art, restaurants, architecture, nightlife and atmosphere that you can only find right here in Detroit.”
Given the rejuvenation in Detroit, the city deserves the spotlight. Just five years ago, Detroit filed for bankruptcy. Now, its credit rating from Moody’s has improved and “to go from (that), which is the lowest point, to this transformational recovery in such a short time is just unprecedented,” City Planning Director Maurice Cox told Urban Land. Cox cited Quicken Loans for setting “the bar on what we want from urban development.”
Commissioner Monahan said Quicken Loans’ focus on its home community connects with the PGA TOUR, which generated more than $180 million for charity in 2017.
“Given that an integral part of our mission is to generate significant charitable and economic impact in communities in which we play, this is such a perfect fit,” he said. “The revival of Detroit, in part thanks to the leadership at Quicken Loans and its Family of Companies, is incredible and we’re thrilled to be part of it with this new event.”
Quicken Loans became title sponsor of a PGA TOUR event in 2014, the Quicken Loans National, which will be contested this year at TPC Potomac (June 25-July 1), and its investment in golf has included a partnership with Rickie Fowler. From the outset, that event benefited the Tiger Woods’ TGR Foundation, which will be the case again in a few weeks as Tiger Woods headlines a world-class field.
Quicken Loans has also used the Quicken Loans National to raise awareness for active and retired military, using unique on-site activations to help raise nearly $1 million for military-related charities.
Monahan stressed that the PGA TOUR values the Washington, D.C., market “and we’ll continue to pursue options there.” TGR Foundation has been a leader in military appreciation efforts and STEM education and college-access programs. The Quicken Loans National has contributed charitable dollars that have gone toward the Earl Woods Scholar Program and the TGR Learning Labs which provide access to education for underrepresented youth.
But the move to sponsor a new, Detroit-based PGA TOUR event for Quicken Loans meshes with the company’s municipal undertaking in a city where company leaders have strong ties. Farner and Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert are both Michigan natives and graduates of Michigan State. The company commitment to Detroit has been significant; Quicken Loans and its family of companies is the city’s largest employer with more than 17,000 team members. Additionally, the company has invested more than $150 million in the city and its employees have volunteered more than 500,000 hours to community programs since 2010.
The expected agreement with Detroit Golf Club on the north side of the city would make the scenario even sweeter, as Quicken Loans for obvious reasons wanted the tournament within city boundaries. What better way to show off the city’s revival, especially at a club that dates to 1899?
Originally six holes, then nine, Detroit Golf Club became a 36-hole facility in exquisite fashion – arguably the sports’ greatest architect, Donald Ross, designed both the South Course and North Course. Alec Ross, Donald’s younger brother and winner of the 1907 U.S. Open, was a head professional through 1945, at which time he was succeeded by two-time Masters winner Horton Smith. Detroit Golf Club hosted the 1992 USGA Mid-Amateur championship, won by Danny Yates.
Not that big-time golf tournaments haven’t been part of the Detroit area for decades, because they have. Many have been held at Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Township – six U.S. Opens, three PGA Championships, two U.S. Amateurs and the 2004 Ryder Cup being the most notable. Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player all won at Oakland Hills.
Golf roots in the Detroit area stretch even deeper, though. PGA Championship winner Walter Burkemo and former PLAYERS Champion Calvin Peete were born in Detroit, as was World Golf Hall of Famer Donna Caponi. Leo Diegel, a two-time PGA Championship winner and WGHOF member, hailed from Gratiot Township, an hour north. Mickey Wright, Betsy King and Patty Sheehan all won U.S. Women’s Opens in the Detroit area.
During the long association with Buick-sponsored tournaments, the PGA TOUR’s most notable players – from Billy Casper in ’58 to Hale Irwin to Ben Crenshaw to Fred Couples to the three times each for Vijay Singh and Woods – treated the Detroit fans to winning world-class golf.
Thanks to Quicken Loans, it will return in 2019.