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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Golf no substitute for 'hockey'
By John Mathews
BBC Sport at Oakland Hills

While the more affluent regions of Metro Detroit may well be enjoying hosting the Ryder Cup, it is fair to say the arrival of golf's elite has not exactly set the city alight.

Curtis Joseph in action for the Red Wings
The Red Wings make more than $100m for the local economy
Detroit is a place with a huge sporting and cultural tradition, but if one sports story has gripped locals more than any other, it would have to be the National Hockey League lock-out.

The prospect of no ice hockey in a place known as 'Hockeytown' has far-reaching implications, not only for the many Detroit Red Wings fans, but also for the local economy.

The Detroit News reports that a single regular-season Red Wings match can pump as much as $2.2m (1.24m) into the city's collective coffers.

According to Comerica Bank chief economist David Littmann: "That's like having a Ryder Cup every season in Detroit."

Small wonder then that the fleeting appearance of Colin Montgomerie and co pales into insignificance when compared with the very real prospect of an entire season without ice hockey to help keep Detroit afloat.

Detroit has a proud past but has still not properly recovered from the economic downturn in the 1970s.

Racial tensions, gun crime and drug problems have all combined to make "The Motor City" stall and sit dangerously idle on the border with Canada.

Ford, Chrysler and General Motors
Joe Louis
Domino's Pizza

As with all depressed regions worldwide, the outlet for the frustrated masses usually comes in the form of sport.

And though the golf has undeniably captured the imagination of many, there will be many more who really couldn't care less what happens at Oakland Hills this weekend.

Not that Detroit doesn't have a golfing tradition worth speaking of.

Ben Hogan won his third US Open at Oakland Hills. And when he nicknamed the course "The Monster", it stuck to the present day.

Golfing great Walter Hagen was the first professional at Oakland Hills, living much of his life in Michigan.

Richard Hamilton drives to the basket
But the man credited with making golf popular among the city's African-American population was a boxer.

It wasn't just any boxer, though.

The legendary world heavyweight champion Joe Louis was raised in Detroit and helped support local black golfers in the 1930s as he was such a fan of the game.

His influence on Detroit's golf scene down the years is credited with the emergence of Calvin Peete as a player of some note in the 1980s.

Peete became the first black golfer to feature in the US Ryder Cup team, winning four of the six matches he played in 1983 and 1985.

But Tiger Woods notwithstanding, basketball has more of a hold on the local youths of today and the Detroit Pistons are the reigning NBA champions.

Golf would rank pretty low if you were to ask someone downtown what sport can't you live without.

But for now golf is one of the few games in town.

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