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Save Rackham! Er, Rackham Saved!

Four Tops member Abdul Duke Fakir (left) and Ben Davis, long time Rackham golf pro, show their support for saving Rackham.  Credit:

Four Tops member Abdul "Duke" Fakir (left) and Ben Davis, long time Rackham golf pro, show their support for saving Rackham. Credit:

I just got back from a four mile run which started off @ 310 W. 6th St., went past Pronto!, across Woodward into Huntington Woods past the Detroit Zoo and Rackham Golf Course (check out the route here).  Particularly averse to the cold this year, I’ve been getting most of my winter running in on the treadmills over at Fitness Unlimited.  But today, it was finally sunny enough to lace up the running shoes and head out.

Rackham Golf Course @ Dawn.  Credit:  DaddyNewt via Flickr.

Rackham Golf Course @ Dawn. Credit: DaddyNewt via Flickr.

I quickly remembered how much I love to run through Huntington Woods’ quiet, tree-lined streets.  One thing that I did not notice this time, though, were the formerly-ubiquitous “SAVE RACKHAM!” signs in the front lawns of many of the tidy homes.  Last spring, as a relative newbie to Southeast Michigan, I read the signs with some curiosity, wondering, “Who is this Rackham kid that got locked up?  I’ll have to look into it . . . .”  After musing about whether there really could be a political prisoner locked up somewhere in Huntington Woods, I’d usually forget, only to notice the signs again on a run a few days later.  It turns out that in the headier days of high real estate values just a short few years ago, this Golf Course designed by Donald Ross eighty years ago became the center of a bitter dispute between its users and neighbors in Huntington Woods and the City of Detroit which wanted to sell it to a developer for residential development.

More on this feud — and the final resolution — after the jump.

In 1924 Horace and Mary Rackham donated the golf course to Detroit.  The donation included a deed restriction that would give the course back to the Rackhams’ heirs if the property was used for anything other than a golf course.  In 2006, Huntington Woods discovered that the City of Detroit was trying to sell the golf course to a private developer and this galvanized a movement within H.W. to “SAVE RACKHAM!”



The issue was the subject of a 0.5 mill tax in Huntington Woods to support litigation and the case was litigated . . . all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court.  The result:

The Michigan Supreme Court [on February 5, 2009] let stand a state Court of Appeals ruling last year that the deed to the 120-acre golf course property prevents it from being used for anything other than a golf course. –Daily Tribune


Rackham will remain a golf course,” February 8, Daily Tribune.

2 responses to "Save Rackham! Er, Rackham Saved!"

  1. Dominique Mar 15, 2009 at 11:12

    I’m not a golfer, and some of the things they do to keep golf courses green aren’t necessarily the “greenest” practices…but it always irks me when there’s an effort to grab a local course for private development.
    The RO city commission making noises about the two city courses is an continual irritant lately.
    From my point of view, golf courses like Rackham and the two RO city courses offer some “green space” in a densely populated area, and they offer and affordable local recreational (and exercise) opportunity for many residents. It’s a quality of life issue.
    Meanwhile, I don’t see how grabbing the land for another pricey condo development or commercial project (like the strip mall they’ve proposed for part of the 13 & Coolidge mini golf/driving range property) is going to benefit the residents. The argument that it will add valuable property to the tax rolls doesn’t impress me–especially when you see all sorts of developments in trouble, vacant, asking for deferments/tax breaks/whatever, overloading our ancient infrastructure or never happening at all (don’t get me started on I-696 and Woodward).

    On a more pleasant note…it sounds like a great route you have for your runs. I’ve been walking outside a bit more in recent weeks, but I’m still waiting for it to get warm enough to really enjoy taking the bicycle out.


  2. Brandon Mar 16, 2009 at 15:53

    Hi Dominique,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I agree with you — with so many vacant buildings and storefronts around, do we really need to be going after parks and golfcourses?

    Thanks for your continued participation!



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