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Changing the Course: Rocket Mortgage Classic aiming to make big impact in Detroit amid pandemic

Rocket Mortgage Classic - Round Two
Posted at 8:45 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 18:03:26-04

The Rocket Mortgage Classic made a heck of a splash in its first year.

YOU CAN WATCH OUR SPECIAL CHANGING THE COURSE ON WXYZ-TV TUESDAY AT 8 P.M. AND OUT STREAMING PLATFORMS AT 9:00 P.M.

"2019 was amazing, an all-around successful year. We couldn't have been more pleased," tournament director Jason Langwell said in an interview with WXYZ this week.

"We created a great experience for fans. We had a great vehicle for generating good in Detroit as well. We generated over $1.2 million for local non-profits."

The follow-up was supposed to take place May 26-31. Then the coronanvirus pandemic hit, and changed everything in sports and beyond.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is changing the course. Forced to do so, the tournament is embracing and answering challenges the pandemic presented.

"Coming into 2020, our focus was really to build on that strong base, to build our second story. We were well on our way to doing that when this pandemic broke," Langwell said.

"We as an event, we re-grouped with Rocket Mortgage and our other key partners, and started having a lot of conversations."

The PGA Tour awarded the Rocket Mortgage Classic three best-of honors for the 2019 season. The tournament received awards for "best special event" for the Area 313 Celebrity Challenge, "best tournament sales," and the new "Fair Way Award" for its diversity and inclusion initiatives during the week.

As the season's scheduled shifted, the Tour kept Detroit on its calendar.

"It was clear from the get-go that they wanted to keep the most awarded on the PGA Tour on the schedule," Langwell said.

The tournament's new date: July 2-5.

Before the PGA Tour got the green light from Jay Farner and the Rocket Mortgage team, Langwell said they had to ensure they'd do the right things in the midst of a global pandemic hitting so hard in Detroit. There were two main points: how to still help the city of Detroit and its people, and how to host an entertaining event in the safest ways.

"Our opening shot was with the Rocket Mortgage Classic and Rocket Mortgage announcing a new charitable giving initiative that we're calling Changing the Course. That aims to create a Detroit where by 2025, every resident has access to technology, has access to the internet, and digital literacy."

In a statement, the tournament said, "the Rocket Mortgage Classic serves as a launch-point to help solve the digital divide. This includes being a vehicle for awareness, fundraising opportunities and creative problem-solving to address the needs of households who do not have access to broadband internet."