About 80 yards up the fairway of what is playing as Detroit Golf Club’s first hole this week for the Rocket Mortgage Classic stands a bent and deformed oak tree. If not for a stone plaque at its base, onlookers might assume there had been an oversight by the grounds crew not to properly get rid of the large limb that lays rather hopelessly on the turf.
A nearby engraving from 1938 explains why it remains. Native Americans had cut the tree and pointed it toward the trail that once led from Detroit to Pontiac. In an ode to the city’s earliest residents, the club kept what is known as an Indian Marker Tree in its original position.
In many ways, there is no better metaphor for the PGA Tour’s return to Detroit this week. The tour left the area in 2009 when the Buick Open at Warwick Hills — about an hour’s drive northwest of the city — folded due to sponsorship problems. The event carried an enviable history, bookended with a 1958 Billy Casper victory and a win by Tiger Woods in 2009. That wasn’t enough to save it. But a change in th...
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