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Rocket Mortgage Classic to be played in Detroit through 2027

Crain’s Detroit Business 
Sept. 27, 2021
Kurt Nagl 

The first PGA Tour event in Detroit will continue through 2027 following a contract extension between the tour, Detroit Golf Club and tournament title sponsor Rocket Mortgage.

Rocket Companies Inc. CEO Jay Farner made the announcement Monday at Detroit Golf Club alongside PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and Rocket Mortgage-sponsored pro golfers Rickie Fowler, Lexi Thompson and Bryson DeChambeau, who helped the U.S. to a Ryder Cup win in Wisconsin over the weekend.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic launched in 2019 and quickly became a popular tour stop for players and fans. Cam Davis won the tournament in July after a dramatic playoff.

The tournament is scheduled to return to Detroit next year July 28-31 for the fourth and final year of its initial contract.

Financial terms of the contract extension were not disclosed, but Farner said during Monday’s announcement that the cost of the tournament is nearly $100 million over a period of five years.

“You don’t just look at a spreadsheet and say, ‘Hey, wow, we should do this,'” Farner said. “And Dan Gilbert always taught us, not everything that counts can be counted. You have to know that the effort you put in, the energy and dedication, will have an impact in your community, for your business, for anyone and everyone who’s involved. It goes far beyond the dollars you may pay.”

To host the tournament, organizers pay the Detroit Golf Club a yearly fee of $200,000, plus a percentage of food and beverage sales, club leadership told Crain’s last year.

Since the event started in 2019, it has raised $3.5 million to be invested into local charities, according to organizers. The tournament’s stated mission is to “bridge the digital divide” in Detroit by providing every resident with internet access by 2025.

DeChambeau, who struck a sponsor deal with Rocket Mortgage in April, said at the Monday event that he thinks the Detroit tournament draws well-known names and big crowds because of its charitable mission and the course set-up.

“Personally, I think it’s because of what they’re doing here to bridge the digital divide,” he said. “I think a lot of people hear that, they see that and they want to be a part of something special. Second part is the golf course is an unbelievable test of golf and personally from my experience, it’s a lot of fun to play.”

Monahan said the five-year extension demonstrates the tour’s confidence in the tournament.

“It’s really important because if you’re a fan or a company that supports the event, knowing that it’s here and it’s committed long-term I think will really help bring more and more interest,” Monahan said. “To me, this is a great expression of our business model, in that we can come into a city, be embraced by a city and in turn make a huge impact …”

The tournament has drawn some of the biggest names in golf, including Phil Mickelson and DeChambeau, whose blunt personality and “bombs away” play style has changed the game and at times caused controversy on tour.

It was a recipe for success Sunday at the Ryder Cup. For Rocket Mortgage, that’s led to plenty of positive attention for the company and its tournament in Detroit.

“Yesterday, we were trying to make a statement,” DeChambeau said of the Ryder Cup victory. “We wanted to show the world that this is a new generation for United States golf.”

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