PGA Tour close to finalizing Detroit tournament
Detroit -- The PGA Tour has ramped up negotiations in recent weeks on bringing a tournament to the City of Detroit, and an agreement is believed to be close, according to a source with knowledge of the Tour's scheduling discussions.
The source requested anonymity because an official announcement has not been made.
The tournament likely would debut in 2019, and be held at Detroit Golf Club, making it the first PGA Tour tournament to be played within the city limits.
A high-ranking employee at Detroit Golf Club declined comment when reached by The Detroit News on Monday.
A title-sponsor candidate would be Dan Gilbert's Quicken Loans, which sponsored The National in the Washington, D.C., area from 2014-17, but pulled out after last season’s event. Quicken Loans had told the PGA Tour that its priority is a tournament in Detroit.
Quicken Loans didn't immediately respond to a request from The News for comment on Monday, but made clear its intentions last year.
"As we look to the future, we remain interested in exploring ways to highlight the energy and revitalization taking place in Detroit," a statement to The News read in September. "A prime golf event, featuring the world's best players, is certainly something we would be interested in pursuing as a way to showcase our great American city."
It's unclear exactly which week a Detroit tournament would take place, though if it simply gets the spot of The National, it would be in late June or early July.
August is a possibility, too, with the PGA Championship moving to May on the schedule starting in 2019.
The National, the PGA Tour tournament hosted by Tiger Woods, is playing this year without a title sponsor, and is unlikely to return to the D.C. area, where the membership at Congressional Country Club has long been ready to move on. This year's tournament is being played at TPC Potomac in Maryland from June 28 to July 1.
The Houston Open, held from March 29 to April 1, also played without a sponsor this year, but seems unlikely to lose its spot on the schedule, given its storied history. It goes back to 1946.
The PGA Tour typically announces the early portion of its following year's schedule in August, and the entire schedule in September.
Detroit and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area have been the hottest targets for a new PGA Tour event, the Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson has reported multiple times.
The PGA Tour's schedule runs from October through the FedEx Cup playoffs in September.
A Detroit tournament would bring the PGA Tour back to Michigan for the first time since 2009, when the near-collapse of the auto industry pulled the plug on the financial backing of the historic Buick Open, long held at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc. Warwick Hills will host the debut playing of The Ally Challenge, a PGA Champions (50-and-older) tournament, from Sept. 14-16.
There are other Michigan golf courses that have seen significant interest from the PGA Tour over the years, including Radrick Farms in Ann Arbor and Shepherd's Hollow in Clarkston, but Gilbert -- Detroit's billionaire booster – is said to want any tournament he sponsors to be in the City of Detroit.
That would seem to leave only Detroit Golf Club, which has advantages on a couple of fronts, especially the infrastructure. It has 36 holes, so the Tour could pick and choose its preferred 18-hole layout -- including some driveable par 4s, which have become all the rage on Tour in recent years. It also has a spacious clubhouse and sufficient practice facilities. As for fan parking, it’s possible shuttles could be made available from the State Fairgrounds.
Detroit Golf Club might have to make an effort to spruce up its neighborhood, south of Seven Mile Road and between Woodward and Livernois avenues. It’s not uncommon for the PGA Tour to make such requests of clubs that host tournaments.
Michigan's golf history
(Not including major championships)
* Buick Open -- 1958-2009 (Flint, Grand Blanc)
* Michigan Golf Classic -- 1969 (Walled Lake)
* Motor City Open -- 1948-50, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1962 (Northville, Royal Oak, Redford, West Bloomfield)
* The Ally Challenge -- 2018 (Grand Blanc)
* Senior Players Championship -- 1990-2006 (Dearborn)
* Farmers Charity Classic -- 1986-2004 (Grand Rapids, Ada)
* LPGA Volvik Championship -- 2016-present (Ann Arbor)
* Meijer LPGA Classic -- 2014-present (Grand Rapids)
* Oldsmobile Classic -- 1992-2000 (East Lansing)
* Lady Stroh's Open -- 1978-99 (Dearborn)
* Yankee Women's Open -- 1964-67 (Grand Blanc)
* Wolverine Open -- 1955, 1957, 1960, 1963 (Bloomfield Hills, Grosse Pointe Woods, Mount Clemens)
* Battle Creek Open -- 1955 (Battle Creek)