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Despite big financial hit, Carl's Golfland a driving force behind $350K for COVID-19 causes

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

On March 5, Carl Rose, founder of Carl's Golfland, died at the age of 91.

Less than two weeks later, on March 16, Carl's Golfland's two brick-and-mortar locations were effectively shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic

"My life flipped on the 5th of March," said Carl Rose Jr., "and it flipped again on the 16th."

Carl's Golfland in Bloomfield Hills.

The two life-altering dates forever will be intertwined, as far as Junior is concerned, especially as he tries to make the best of a situation that's been rotten for millions of businesses throughout the nation and world.

Carl's Golfland has kept all 180 of its employees on the payroll, and has donated more than $350,000 to hospitals and charities, mostly in Southeast Michigan, but also some nationally.

It's all part of Rose's #ShankThisVirus Campaign, which drew national notoriety Sunday when he got a shoutout on NBC during golf's return-to-live-action charity exhibition featuring Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff. On Sunday morning, given his long-standing relationship with event sponsor TaylorMade, Rose decided to add a $100,000 donation to the exhibition's purse.

"Mom and Dad started this in 1958, the year I was born, and Southeast Michigan and the country has been so good to my family and my business. I've been very, very fortunate," Rose said over the phone Tuesday. "It just felt right to me. My mother and father, I know what type of people they were, and how they would look at this, and it just felt right to me. I wanted to try and make a difference.

"I started thinking about what Mom and Dad would do. They were very generous people, even when they were small.

"We've all gotta help each other."

Carl's Golfland has two shops, in Bloomfield Hills and Plymouth, which are among the most acclaimed golf-apparel outfits in the country.

They do huge business, particularly in the spring months, as Michigan's estimated half-million recreational golfers gear up for the season.

Carl Rose of Carl's Golfland.

This year, though, the shops suffered significant financial damages, with the stores being forced closed since mid-March. Rose and his staff installed curbside pickups for online sales, but that only made up for about 15 percent of the typical business. It's popular Demo Days were canceled.

Only recently has Carl's Golfland been allowed to open its ranges and its fitting stations, and give lessons.

But Rose still made the commitment to keep his staff, and fund the charity, which in Michigan has helped Gleaners Food Bank, Detroit Public Safety Foundation, Henry Ford Health System, St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital, Hurley Medical Center, DMC Detroit Receiving Hospital, SAY Detroit and the American Red Cross, plus a couple initiations outside the state, including the New York City Fire Department Foundation and The Beacon in Houston.

The donation during the NBC broadcast of the golf exhibition — one of the first live televised sporting events since mid-March, joining NASCAR, which returned Sunday —  supports the American Nurses Foundation and CDC Foundation.

"We're banged up, we're bruised, and it's gonna be a while until we're not," Rose said. "This is something that's gonna have repercussions for years to come.

"You get one bruise and that heals up, and you've got another one. But I think we're gonna be one of the lucky ones. My heart bleeds for many people in our country, businesses you know aren't gonna come back."

Golfers can purchase a #ShankThisVirus t-shirt at carlsgolfland.com, with all proceeds — the entire $18 cost of the shirt — going to charity, thanks to Carl's Golfland, founded by Carl and Donna Rose as a small driving range in Pontiac.

Among notable golfers who have joined the #ShankThisVirus campaign are LPGA players Lexi Thompson, Morgan Pressel and Maria Fassi, and LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984