U.S. military personnel get star treatment at Rocket Mortgage Classic

Nolan Bianchi
The Detroit News

Detroit — When Frank Worden purchased his tickets to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, he knew he would have the chance to see his favorite golfer, Rickie Fowler.

What he didn’t know, however, is that when Fowler made his way to the 13th green at Detroit Golf Club on Friday, he’d be watching from the shade — and with a fresh cut.

Frank Worden gets a free haircut Friday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Worden, 59, was one of a few dozen armed-services veterans to have his hair chopped for free by a Lady Jane Haircuts for Men’s stylist at Heroes Hall, a hospitality center located between the 11th and 13th greens at this weekend’s inaugural PGA Tour event.

“It’s a nice thing. It reminds you of the pride that you have as a veteran when someone comes up and welcomes you as a veteran,” said Worden, who retired as a master sergeant in the Air Force after more than 20 years of service.

“And then you get a haircut, you get to stay in the shade, it’s nice.”

The initiative, which runs every day this week from the time gates open until all golfers leave the course, is one of several at this weekend’s tournament that Worden said has made him feel “very welcome.”

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All active-duty, retired military and veterans can gain access to Heroes Hall by picking up a camouflage lanyard upon entering the grounds at Detroit Golf Club.

The lanyard also provides access to dedicated concessions lines, a 20-percent discount on tournament merchandise, and front-of-line priority at Rocket Mortgage’s “Shot for Heroes” initiative, a 60-yard game in the tournament’s Fan Zone that’s raised more than $1 million for military-affiliated charities since it was launched in 2015.

“This golf tournament is a wonderful for some nice offerings they give to veterans now. It’s good to see it,” Worden added.

The PGA Tour’s National in Washington, D.C., also was very heavy on the military salutes when Gilbert’s Quicken Loans sponsored that tournament the previous five years.

Thus far, the Rocket Mortgage Classic has been a pleasant surprise for everyone involved. Lady Jane’s director of operations Stevie Cooper, formerly a manager at the men’s grooming salon’s Plymouth location, even got back to her roots and picked up a pair of clippers to assist with giving out new cuts — which she said, so far, “people are really loving.”

“They seem really happy that we were able to do something like this for them,” she said. “And they seem really appreciative that we’re here.”

By noon Friday, Lady Jane’s had already served up more than 40 free haircuts, said vice president of operations Elizabeth Campbell.

“They love it so much,” Campbell said. “It’s so funny, everybody wants their picture taken in the chair, because they’re saying, ‘My buddies will never believe that I got my hair cut at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.”

Outside of the amenities directly provided by Heroes Hall, Worden also said he has enjoyed the “kinship” of mingling with fellow veterans underneath the tent.

“You don’t know them, but when they’re a veteran, and you’re a veteran, you’ve been overseas, they’ve been overseas, they’ve lived in foxholes, mudholes, and wherever we’ve been in the world, they’ve been there and they understand,” Worden said.

“And it’s not a bad thing. It’s not a complaint. It’s just the conditions that we lived in, they also lived in. There’s a camaraderie. It’s an automatic nod of the head.”

Even for those who don’t have direct military affiliation, like Cooper, the varied programs and activities have given volunteers a chance to show an appreciation for those serving or those who have served.

“My grandpa was a Marine,” Cooper said. “He passed away before I was born, so it’s kind of a nice way to honor him, since I never got to meet him.”

As for the most popular hairstyle requested, Cooper said there hasn’t been a look that’s stolen the show.

But for a veteran like Worden, the choice was obvious: “I went with a high and tight. That’s a standard military cut.”

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.