July 31, 2020
Written by Jason Langwell, Executive Director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic
It has been nearly a month since the last putt dropped at the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic and Bryson DeChambeau became the second winner of Detroit’s annual PGA TOUR event, and I still have to pinch myself when I think back on the remarkable achievement we pulled off with such amazing contributions from so many dedicated people.
While the Rocket Mortgage Classic was one of the PGA TOUR’s “Return to Golf” events and served as the first major event here in Detroit – sports or otherwise – since the COVID-19 pandemic began, it was about much, much more than showcasing the great City of Detroit and allowing fans to watch 157 of the best golfers around the world. The event has already raised more than $1.5 million to support “Changing the Course,” an initiative undertaken by Rocket Mortgage, the Rocket Mortgage Classic and other key tournament sponsors to end the digital divide in Detroit. The pandemic has brought to the forefront some long-standing issues in our community, as a large percentage of our residents without reliable internet aren’t able to access online learning, telemedicine and so many other opportunities that others take for granted, and we are working to change that.
After a hugely successfully inaugural event in 2019 that highlighted the vision of Rocket Mortgage Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert to bring a PGA TOUR event to the city of Detroit for the first time, we were all excited to build upon that momentum this year.
Some may remember that the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic was originally planned for the end of May, and the decision to move forward with the tournament on our new dates at the beginning of July was not taken lightly. We engaged in thoughtful discussions with the Rocket Giving Fund board, led by Rocket Mortgage CEO Jay Farner, and came to the conclusion that we would only host the event if we could satisfy two significant requirements. First, we needed to be certain we could find a way to affect positive change in the City of Detroit. Second, we had to be able to do so in a safe manner that would protect the health of players, caddies, essential staff and everyone in our community.
While some may have looked at the prospect of hosting a PGA TOUR event without fans as a challenge, we saw it as an opportunity. With some extremely creative thinking by our talented tournament team here at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and the leadership and vision of everyone involved with our title sponsor, Rocket Mortgage, we were able to generate revenue and drive donations to the tune of $1.5 million for Changing the Course. And as most other professional sports organizations were still waiting to resume their seasons, we worked closely with the PGA TOUR to set an example for how to return to competition safely.
It was by no means easy, but looking back at what this team accomplished fills me with pride and should do the same for everyone who played a part in making the 2020 Rocket Mortgage Classic so successful. As a 501 (c)(3) organization, our mission is and always will be to raise funds to support local nonprofits, and we’ll continue to dedicate ourselves to Changing the Course!