Golf notes: Crowds coming back to Rocket Mortgage Classic, but how big?

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Tony Paul, The Detroit News
·5 min read
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Mar. 8—Fans are returning to Detroit Golf Club this summer. It's just a matter of how many.

And that's why the PGA Tour's Rocket Mortgage Classic has not yet started selling tickets. Some secondary ticket brokers are selling passes that they anticipate getting their hands on, but don't yet have in their possession, so if you're going to purchase via that route, buyer beware.

A tournament spokesman said ticket sales are being discussed but no final decision has been made, as the state continues to loosen restrictions for crowd sizes.

Under the current state order, 750 fans are allowed at indoor venues (Pistons and Red Wings), and 1,000 fans will be allowed at outdoor venues (Tigers). That's the plan for now, though is subject to change based on evolving health and science data. The current state order is scheduled to run through mid-April, and local sports teams are expecting it to be loosened even more with the next order.

The third annual Rocket Mortgage Classic is set for July 1-4. President Joe Biden has said the United States will be able to vaccinate every adult who wants to be vaccinated by mid-May. So there's a chance the Rocket could feature full capacity, albeit still with some safety measures in place.

The 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic was played without fans; they had to watch on TV as Bryson DeChambeau made mincemeat of one of Donald Ross' crown jewels.

The inaugural Rocket Mortgage Classic in 2019 — Michigan's first PGA Tour stop since the Buick Open ran its course in 2009 — drew, conservatively, more than 40,000 fans. The PGA Tour doesn't released official attendance numbers, but for a non-major, the Rocket drew raves from tournament officials. The Tuesday practice-round crowd rivaled or exceeded some tournaments' Day 1 crowds.

The PGA Tour again is allowing fans at tournaments, on a case-by-case basis. Up to 25% capacity was allowed at this past weekend's Arnold Palmer Invitational, also won by DeChambeau.

This will be the third year of a four-year contract between the PGA Tour and Rocket Mortgage, which pays more than $10 million a year to be the tournament's title sponsor. An extension is widely expected to be announced before or during this year's tournament.

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Chips & divots — Oakland Hills Country Club has company on the renovation front.

Red Run Golf Club in Royal Oak is planning a $2 million renovation, starting in September, that will upgrade all the course's bunkers and tees. The money comes from a growing membership push, particularly among young professionals.

Oakland Hills in Bloomfield Township is undergoing a $12.1-million renovation on its famed South Course, with the opening expected sometime this summer, club officials said. The upgrades, most notably with the greens and tree removal, were approved with sights set on landing the club another major championship. — Canton's Donnie Trosper (Michigan State) missed the PGA Tour cut in Puerto Rico. He's 0-for-3 now, but still carded his first sub-par round on the PGA Tour — despite not getting in a full practice round because he had to be tested on site, and then quarantined until he got the results — and then followed that up with a one-shot mini-tour win in Victoria Hills, Florida, for a $1,500 payday. Hall Financial, through Metro Detroit Golfers, continues to sponsor his golf journey. Hall Financial paid all his travel expenses to Puerto Rico, while Miles of Golf in Ann Arbor outfitted him from head to do (except the MDG hat). — The Metro Detroit Golfers four-day virtual golf show, featuring dozens of vendors, starts Thursday, at mdgshow.com (the site isn't live yet). Mike Sullivan and Kyle Bogenschutz will kick it off with a live broadcast from Red Run, from 6-9 p.m., with an assortment of guests. Accessing the golf show is free. — Former Grand Valley State golf standout Alex Scott, won a SwingThought tour event in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, last week. The three-shot win earned him $14,050. The SwingThought tour is the old Hooters Tour, and has some good prize money for a mini-tour. — Baker Stevenson (Hartland) and Andrew Walker (Battle Creek, Michigan State) have qualified for status on Canada's Mackenzie Tour, if there is a tour this year. Canada maintains strict COVID regulations, and the tour could hold events in border cities on the U.S. side. — Rochester's OneStream Software got a big shoutout on national television Sunday, following DeChambeau's win. The company began sponsoring DeChambeau, the "Mad Scientist," in January. — Morgan Pressel, who growing up spent her summers in Michigan, has joined Golf Channel as an on-course reporter for LPGA Tour and PGA Tour events. She will continue to play some select events. — Tom Gillis (Lake Orion) made his Champions Tour season debut late last month in Tucson, Arizona, and finished 8 over, tied with baseball Hall of Famer and fellow Michigan native John Smoltz. — Joey Garber (Petoskey), grinding to make it back to the PGA Tour, made it to the Puerto Rico Open, as a caddie for friend Dalton Ward. Ward tied for 53rd for $7,062, which gave Garber a modest payday. — Orchard Lake Country Club has hired Brian Sleeman as its head professional.

tpaul@detroinews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984