The best Twin Cities golf deal isn’t a last-minute twilight greens fee special or found on the clearance rack in the clubhouse. The PGA Tour’s annual Champions Tour stop in Minnesota, the 3M Championship, returns to TPC Twin Cities in Blaine this summer. Once again general admission, parking and shuttle service to the course are all free.
It’s a chance to see some of the game’s best professional players from the past 30 years put on a three-day show. Recently the displays have been a birdie-fest.
Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer held off a strong leaderboard that included David Peoples, Kenny Perry, Craig Stadler, Tom Kite and Mark O’Meara to win last year’s event. Langer’s blistering 18-under-par finishing score included a 10-under 62 on Sunday to seal his second 3M Championship in four years. His final-day masterpiece isn’t even a record; David Frost fired a final round 61 in 2010.
Players on the 50-and-over circuit still know how to shoot low. At TPC Twin Cities, a 7,100-yard par-72 track co-designed by Minnesotan Tom Lehman (runner-up at the 3M in 2011) and Arnold Palmer, it’s a must.
“If you shoot even par … you know you haven’t got a chance,” Australian Peter Senior said after more than half of the 81-player field finished in red numbers after Day 1 last summer.
Wide fairways leave players licking their chops at ideal pin positions. It all ends at the par-5 18th hole, one of many risk/reward opportunities featured throughout the course. A good drive sets players up for a fan-favorite 200-yard try over the pond guarding the large, undulated green at the closing hole.
Make it over the water and an eagle try is up next. Langer chipped in for a three in 2009 to win the tournament.
Yet one of the biggest draws of the weekend isn’t to the 18th hole. Instead it’s to players who have little chance at making it over the water there.
This summer marks the 10th anniversary of the tournament within the 3M Championship, the Greats of Golf Challenge.
Headlined by Palmer, the best-fall format (and autograph session) features some of golf’s best names — and characters — from its golden era. Lee Trevino, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Miller Barber, Al “Mr. 59” Geiberger, Don January and Dave Stockton were some of the names to join The King for the fun last August.
Fans are able to see it all without paying for a ticket thanks to continued corporate cooperation. The event itself gives back as well. In conjunction with the tournament’s 20th anniversary last summer it passed the $20 million mark in charitable contributions, the highest for a single event on the Champions Tour during that time frame.
Brian Stensaas • 612-673-4127
July 29-Aug. 4 (54-hole tournament begins Friday) TPC Twin Cities (par 72) in Blaine
Purse: $1.75 million ($262,500 to the winner)
Defending champion: Bernhard Langer (18-under 198)