DETROIT – It had been nearly 15 years since Brian Stuard, a PGA Tour veteran from Jackson, had played Detroit Golf Club during his college days at Oakland University.
But the 1916 Donald Ross course was the classic-style track he remembered when he and other players teed it up during practice rounds Monday for this week’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.
“I didn’t remember to much about it,” Stuard, 36, said after playing the front nine. “I remember a few holes here and there. But just seeing the front nine it’s what I remember it being, just kind of an old-school, tree-lined golf course.”
Other players also had favorable reviews of the short, classic course that is an uncommon sight these days on the PGA Tour, which often features lengthy, modern Tournament Players Club courses.
The challenge of the 7,334-yard course, Stuard said, will be accuracy off the tee.
“You’ve got to drive it in the fairway, I think, and then controlling where you hit your second shot,” he said. “Because the greens are tricky in spots. So I think it’s going to be managing where you’re at.”
Adam Svensson of Canada also said accuracy will be at a premium with lots of trees in play and the classic undulating Ross greens.
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“Oh, it’s great,” Svensson said. “It’s an old-school golf course. It kind of reminds me of Vancouver pretty much.
“Yeah, the greens are slopey. You’ve got to put the ball in the right position. You definitely can’t go long on your second shots. You’ve got to below the hole. Yeah, and you’ve got to hit it straight off the tee. It’s a ball-striker golf course pretty much.”
Ben Silverman, another player from Canada, said he course was in great shape.
“I love it right now, initial thoughts,” he said. “It’s great. The greens are rolling super-fast and pure. The fairways are pure. Rough is thick. Some narrow fairways, even though some a couple shorter par 4s, so if you miss in the rough you might have a tricky time holding the green.”
It’s a bit early for bold predictions, but the general feeling among some players is that if the expected rain keeps the greens soft, that could add up to prime scoring conditions. Stuard was asked if 20-under on the par-72 layout was possible.
“Pretty much, I think,” he said. “That’s what I’m expecting.”
Silverman tied for 20th at 7-under earlier this month in the Canadian Open, which Rory McIlroy won at 22-under and close with a nine-under 61 on short course at Hamilton (Ontario) Golf and Country Club.
Silverman thinks there could be a similar outcome this week in Detroit.
“If you drive it straight, you can definitely score like that,” he said. “I’m sure there will be a couple guys. Like at Hamilton in the Canadian Open, people didn’t think Rory was going to go that low. But he started hitting driver right down the middle and having little wedges in. So you can definitely go low, but (Detroit is) still an awesome golf course.”