Detroit — Michael and Cindy Miotto and six of their closest friends are the envy of starved sports fans.
They get to watch a real, live sporting event, something 99-percent of folks in this country (maybe more?) haven’t been able to do since mid-March.
“We have great seats,” said Michael Miotto, “and we are happy to be here.”
Fans continue to be excluded from PGA Tour tournaments, for at least another two weeks, amid the COVID-19 pandemic — turning a Rocket Mortgage Classic that last year resembled a rowdy kegger, with more than 10,000 fans in attendance each of the four competition days, into more of a library in 2020.
But if you listen closely to the telecast, you can hear a smattering of applause, most of it coming just a chip east of the tee at the par-4 12th, where the Miottos reside.
There’s fencing up, and black Rocket Mortgage Classic-branded draping on the fencing, but the Miottos gathered some high-top chairs and some close friends, and are making the most of their holiday weekend.
“One of the players,” said Karen Greening, “told us we have the best seats on the Tour.”
They might not be wrong.
The seats aren’t on the Detroit Golf Club grounds, though they’re darn close — plus they’ve got shade, umbrellas, and, just as nice, the amenities of the Miottos’ house (beats a port-a-potty!), located just off Hamilton Road.
Joining the Miottos for the morning wave of Friday’s second round were Mike Mikula, Tony and Karen Greening, Carol and Kent Maconochie and Joe Sales.
“A few us neighbors got together and set these up,” said Michael Miotto, who attended last year’s tournament as a fan, and enjoyed that experience, too. “It’s awesome that it’s here, we’re having a good time, and now I get to enjoy it with my friends.”
In the previous three stops on the PGA Tour’s restart, there have been course-bordering home owners making the most of the situation, some even building elaborate grandstands.
There haven’t been as many Detroit Golf Club neighbors taking advantage of their unique vantage points.
But the Miottos sure did, and they’ve found that the golfers appreciate them. PGA Tour players love the fans for a variety of reasons, not just for their adulation, but also for the roars and groans that serve as shot indicators. In Thursday’s opening round, Brian Stuard holed out for eagle from 164 yards on his first hole of the day; he didn’t even know the shot went in until he got to the green. In a normal week, Stuard would’ve been showed with a thunderous ovation.
This isn’t a normal week, though for now it’s the new normal.
Golfers have interacted with the Miottos and friends, especially when they have a wait on the tee. On Friday morning, Erik van Rooyen made some small talk, and even threw Michael Miotto a ball.
“It’s so nice,” said Cindy Miotto, with a chuckle, “that they’re playing just for us.”