What’s the difference between the commitment required for sponsorship and operation of a weekly, 54-hole tournament on the Champions Tour, and a weekly, 72-hole tournament on the PGA Tour?
You can start with this: The final 3M Championship as a Champions event will be held the week of July 30-Aug. 5 and have a purse of $1.75 million. The first 3M Open as a PGA Tour event will be held next summer and will have an estimated purse of $6.6 million.
There are generally 84 players in a Champions event. There are 156 players in a weekly PGA Tour event.
The TPC Twin Cities will set up at around 7,000 yards for the seniors in early August. Construction of new tee boxes will start shortly after the tournament ends, allowing the PGA Tour event in 2019 to be played at 7,600 yards, if desired.
The fairways will be narrowed by allowing a rough to grow and there will be trees added to some of those wide-open spaces. Any changes to greens will come later.
There will be low scores at the 3M Open in 2019, but not purposely so as has been the case for the Champions event. Barring rain, the greens will be faster, and the pins will be more difficult.
Hollis Cavner, the executive director of the 3M Championship said: “The Tour will put some teeth in this golf course, to make it a fair challenge for the players.’’
Tom Lehman will be involved in the changes to the course. The orginal designer of the TPC Twin Cities was Arnold Palmer, with consulting work by Lehman.
The mom-and-pop attraction that has been the 3M Champions event is going away. Forget about the free admission of recent years. You won’t be paying through the eyeballs, as at a Ryder Cup, but there will be normal PGA Tour prices for daily tickets or week-long passes.
Cavner was at Shinnecock Hills last week. The word already was out with players that Minnesota would be on the PGA Tour calendar. Cavner said he talked with numerous players and received encouragement that a fair number of top 30-type players would be here for the Twin Cities’ first weekly stop on the PGA Tour since 1969.
The expectation is that the 3M Open will be played the week of July 1-7 in 2019, moving into the slot currently occupied by the Greenbrier event in West Virginia. The Greenbrier is moving to the fall and the start of the 2019-2020 wraparound season next year.
The Fourth of July week has been deemed as a tough sell for players. Even more importantly, a 3M Open that week would be competing with the we’re-going-to-the-lake masses in the Twin Cities.
“We’ve done some surveys,’’ Cavner said. “There are a huge number of people in the Twin Cities over the Fourth. We’re going to give them an entertaining event. Among other things, we’re going to have a notable concert, probably on Friday night.’’
Cavner is the CEO of Pro Links Sports. His management team took over the struggling Tampa event a few years ago and has turned it into a winner with the Valspar Championship. Pro Links takes care of the sponsors for the World Golf event in Mexico City, and managed the Wells Fargo event in Charlotte this year.
Pro Links has Champions events in Houston, Boca Raton, Fla. and the first Sanford-sponsored event in Sioux Falls, S.D. thiis September.
The challenge for making the 3M Open an immediate success as a PGA Tour event in 2019 faces more competition than Minnesotans heading to the lake for the Fourth.
The 2019 KPMG Women’s PGA will be held two weeks earlier – June 20-23 – at Hazeltine. It’s part of the PGA of America’s connection with Hazeltine that now includes the return of the Ryder Cup in 2028.
“Hazeltine gets great support for its events,’’ Cavner said. “So do we. 3M has a seven-year contract with the Tour. We're dealing with longer agreements with sponsors than Hazeltine is with the Women’s PGA. The way I see things, 2019 is going to be a great summer for golf fans in Minnesota.’’