Chemical vandalism at PGA Tour site leaves multiple greens unplayable

Chemicals sprayed on the 11th and 12th greens have forced maintenance staffers to close them down ahead of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.


Two greens at Detroit Golf Club, host site of the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic, are recovering from an alleged act of vandalism.

According to various local reports, the club is rehabbing the 11th and 12th greens on the North Course after chemicals were applied to them in mid-April. The Rocket Mortgage begins at the end of June. 

As the local police investigation continues, the clean-up is underway by superintendent Sam Moynihan and staff. Moynihan emailed club members in late April to explain the situation. 

“The length of time the greens will take to recover will continue to be weather dependent,” Moynihan wrote, according to Darren Nichols, a local columnist. “The colder the weather, the slower the recovery. I will be working in conjunction with the PGA Tour Agronomy Department to develop an appropriate plan for optimal recovery. I will continue to keep you updated with progress pictures, treatments, and recovery plans moving forward.”

April was warmer than average for the Detroit area, but it’s how Mother Nature treats the course in May that will matter. The damage consists of swathes of grass burned yellow by chemicals, snaking across the greens. According to Nichols, the club ran the affected turf through a lab examination, revealing it had been exposed to glyphosate, an ingredient in ithe weed-killer Round Up. 

The good news is that Moynihan is seeing progress in the weeks since the incident. And the club expects the course will be in peak condition when the Tour arrives in seven weeks.

“Each day I am seeing more and more green shoots filling the damaged areas,” Moynihan wrote to members. Moynihan told members that reseeding the affected areas could begin immediately since the damage sustained was only to the tips of the grass, not down to the roots. His team has already been able to mow the greens with walk-behind mowers.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic kicks off June 29. Tony Finau is the defending champion.

Sean Zak Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine, currently working on a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews. You can read about those travels here and catch his latest thoughts on the Drop Zone Podcast:

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