The Orchards Golf Club hosted a Rocket Mortgage Classic qualifying event June 24, with the top four scores moving onto the PGA Tour event at the Detroit Golf Club. Pictured is The Orchards clubhouse.

The Orchards Golf Club hosted a Rocket Mortgage Classic qualifying event June 24, with the top four scores moving onto the PGA Tour event at the Detroit Golf Club. Pictured is The Orchards clubhouse.

Photo by Zachary Manning


Rocket Mortgage qualifier offers locals shot at the tour

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published June 26, 2019

DETROIT — For most, the Rocket Mortgage Classic is your average PGA Tour stop.

But for Joe Hooks, of Farmington Hills, it means so much more, because he’s been around the city of Detroit for most of his life.

The 26-year-old went to the University of Detroit Jesuit before heading off to Wayne State University. He also grew up around the Detroit Golf Club, where the Rocket Mortgage Classic was held, after press time.

So when Hooks went out and shot a 70 at The Orchards Golf Club during a qualifying event for the tournament, it was more than just another round of golf. It was a bid to play in a city he grew up in.

“The Rocket Mortgage is more than a home event for me,” Hooks said. “I grew up at Detroit Golf Club. My dad joined there the year before I was born, and we left in 2012, so that’s literally a backyard for me in a sense.”

With only four spots for the taking, Hooks and many others didn’t end up making it through, but the opportunity to qualify for a PGA event is something he and other golfers can use to break through. It took a round of 66 to get into a playoff for the last qualifying spots.

The event featured 14 players from Michigan, including Hooks and former Birmingham Seaholm Mr. Golf winner Francesco Ruffino. Ruffino posted the top prequalifying score at TPC of Michigan, but ended up withdrawing from the qualifying event.

With Doc Redman, Austen Truslow, Wes Homan and Martin Piller advancing to play in the Rocket Mortgage Classic, those who didn’t qualify will look to other avenues.

Some bounce around to qualifiers across the country, while others play on separate professional tours. The one thing they all have in common is the dream of one day making the PGA Tour.

“We had some great players come in here — never been to this area or never seen the course — come shoot 68, 67 and not good enough, so they just get on a plane and go to the next stop,” Michigan PGA Executive Director Kevin Helm said. “What people don’t always see is this side of it, where they’re trying to get out there, and they’re flying all over the world to play good golf and still not get in. I think for the players that make it through, and I don’t know most of them, but some of them, it’s their first tour event. It could be a life-changing deal for them.”

Right now, Hooks is playing on the Advocates Pro Golf Association Tour. The next event will be July 22-23 in Chicago, with the APGA Tour Championship taking place August 19-20 in Atlanta.

And even though he knows he didn’t play his best golf in the qualifier, Hooks isn’t upset with the results and is hopeful for the future.

With the Rocket Mortgage Classic having a four-year contract to be played at Detroit Golf Club, there is still hope for Hooks and his dream of becoming a PGA Tour golfer one day.

“Hopefully, I happen to get into another event before next year’s Rocket Mortgage, but realistically planning on next year’s Rocket Mortgage to be my first event, my first PGA Tour event,” Hooks said.