The Rocket Mortgage Classic announced Monday that PGA Tour players Bubba Watson, Harold Varner III, Jason Day and Wesley Bryan will participate in a nine-hole match Wednesday to benefit the tournament's charity initiatives.
Watson and Varner III will take on Day and Bryan in a friendly match at Detroit Golf Club to raise funds for the Changing the Course initiative, which is the Rocket Mortgage Classic's new multiyear campaign to end the digital divide in Detroit.
"It's going to be a lot of fun to get out there Wednesday for a little hit and giggle with some friends to raise money for a great cause," Watson said. "When I heard about what Rocket Mortgage and the tournament were doing to provide internet access to Detroit residents, I knew I wanted to get behind it and do what I could to help out. I hope the fans enjoy getting a little inside look at the banter we always have during a practice round and get behind the effort too by donating what they can."
The campaign is aimed at ensuring that every Detroit resident has access to the internet, technology and digital literacy training.
The nine-hole match will kickoff the AREA 313 Challenge on holes 14, 15 and 16 to help raise funds for the Changing the Course drive. Any player who scores a 3-1-3 on those three holes will trigger a $313,000 donation in the player's name toward the campaign. Rocket Mortgage has pledged to donate $5,000 for every 3 made on the 14th hole, a $25,000 donation for every hole-in-one made on 15 and $5,000 for every 3 made on hole 16.
The event will take place on Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. ET on PGA Tour Live and the Golf Channel. Fans will have an opportunity to add to the donation fund during the broadcast and throughout the week of the tournament by texting AREA313 to 243725.
As the Rocket Mortgage Classic is part of the PGA Tour's return to golf, the event will not have fans throughout the week. Without ticket sales and sponsorships, the event has had to get creative to ensure that its charitable giving did not take a hit.
Tournament executive director Jason Langwell said the nine-hole match is one of the ways the event is looking to help raise donations and funds. Without having to focus on ticket sales, hospitality and the social aspect of the tournament, Langwell said, the event has put its focus on the social good for Changing the Course.
Through the newly created match, fan donations and a newly created Rocket Mortgage Fall Classic, which will be played in September with tour professionals, celebrities and fans at Detroit Golf Club, Langwell believes the Rocket Mortgage Classic will be able to match or exceed its charitable giving from last year.
"That's because we had to get creative, and a lot of the companies that had already contracted with us last year, we went back and said we're not going to have an event and you were going to be a putting green sponsor for $50,000. How about you become a putting green sponsor for the Fall Class for $20,000 and we'll utilize the rest of your funds next year," Langwell said. "We've had so many companies support us in that initiative and keep some dollars with us that will allow us to offset our costs but generate enough proceeds to continue making a significant impact towards Changing the Course."