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Rocket Mortgage Classic Preview

Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Network

The PGA TOUR heads to Detroit this week for the fourth running of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Previous winners of this event include Nate Lashley, Bryson DeChambeau, and defending champ Cam Davis.

This is the penultimate regular season event so it’s crunch time for golfers trying to make their final push in the FedExCup race.

A total of 156 golfers will tee it up to start the week and that number will be trimmed to the top 65 and ties after 36 holes.

The Course

Detroit Golf Club returns as the host venue for the fourth time at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.

Laid out by Donald Ross more than a century ago, this course certainly falls in the “classical course” bucket.

As you typically see on an older design, there are doglegs and the greens are the key defense of the course.

Looking at the scorecard, we see a par 72 that stretched out to 7,370 yards from the tips.

On a hole-by-hole basis, there are four par 4s that play under 400 yards. Only one of the par 4s play over 461 yards, so not a lot of beefy holes, which allows golfers of all distance types to contend.

Off the tee, golfers will see somewhat generous landing areas that are framed by large trees to make them look or feel a bit more narrow. The field has found about 65 percent of fairways here which is slightly easier than TOUR average.

On approach, golfers will see small greens with even smaller targets due to the sectioned, turtleback greens that have false fronts. Of course, with a summer date in the Midwest, the greens need to be heavily watered which leads to softer and receptive conditions. The field has landed about 72% of greens in regulation which is quite a bit easier than TOUR average.

Once they reach the greens, they’ll see heavily undulated putting surfaces that are primarily poa annua with about 20% bentgrass in the mix, as well. The grounds crew can ramp them up to ultra-fast speeds but they typically target 12 feet on the stimp during tournament week.

Overall, the scoring environment is one of the easier ones out on TOUR. The field has averaged around a 23 percent birdie-or-better rate while the double or worse rate is the lowest on TOUR. There just isn’t a lot of trouble to find here which is about the only thing that separates it from last week’s venue, TPC Twin Cities.

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Quotes on the Course

Webb Simpson: “What’s difficult about Donald Ross courses, how the greens are so undulating and almost like a flipped upside down bowl that balls will roll off the green if they get near the edge.”

Brian Stuarrd: “I always just kind of attribute it to an old-school, tree-lined, traditional golf course. usually the greens are kind of the test of a Donald Ross course, I would say, and it’s no different here.”

Viktor Hovland: “So, around the greens is definitely thick. You’re going to have a hard time if you miss the greens because the rough is really thick there.”

Cameron Champ: “It’s definitely a finesse-type course. Obviously if you have length it can be an advantage, but at the same time the greens are very slopey and your iron play has to be on as well, as well as putting. I think this is a course where yes, you can shoot very low, but all aspects of the game have to be in the same sequence to do that.”

Donald Ross tendencies are a key talking point when golfers head to Detroit GC. Sloped greens and tricky around-the-green rough tend to pop up a lot in the pressers.

Correlated Courses

Let’s look at the leaderboards over the last three years and see where the most crossover success can be found, when it comes to other courses played on the PGA TOUR or DP World Tour:

TPC Deere Run
Silverado Resort and Spa
Torrey Pines
Pebble Beach Pro-Am Rota

A common link here is grass types. Comfort on poa annua putting surfaces certainly appears to be helpful here.

The Weather

Thursday: Sunny with a high of 85 degrees. Winds at 10 to 15 MPH.

Friday: Sunny with a high of 81 degrees. Winds at 8 o 12 MPH.

Rain can’t be ruled out completely but this looks like a much drier forecast than what we saw last year in Detroit.