This summer marks 25 years of Champions Tour golf in the Twin Cities. Since the first ball of the Burnet Senior Classic was struck at Bunker Hills, the tournament has changed names and venues but the constant presence in the north metro makes it one of the longest-running events on the 50-and-over circuit.
Two PGA Championships and the Ryder Cup also have come to town since the 3M Championship was established, but never has Minnesota hosted a regular stop on the PGA Tour. That could change soon.
Hollis Cavner, executive director of the 3M Championship, said Monday his Pro Links Sports event management team has submitted a bid to the PGA Tour for an annual event at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, same site as the 3M Championship each August.
“We have a great thing going on the Champions Tour, but this town and 3M both deserve bigger and better,” Cavner said. “That’s the next step. It’s time.”
The largest boulder to move isn’t altering the course, though that would happen for sure. Instead, it’s finding an available date on the PGA Tour schedule that works for all involved.
Ideally, Cavner said, a regular spot beginning in 2019 is the target.
But if PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan calls tomorrow?
“We’re ready the minute we get word,” Cavner said. “We could do it in 60 days.”
Unused property around more than half of the tee boxes could lengthen the course by about 600 yards. So, too, could narrowing the fairways and letting the rough grow taller and wider off the beaten path.
For the 3M Championship, TPC Twin Cities features relatively tame conditions that mean bleeding-red leaderboards with a handful of eagles and lots of fan-friendly birdies. Since 2007 the winning score of the 54-hole tournament has been at least 15 under par. Last summer Joe Durant shot 19 under and still needed to make an eagle on the first hole of a playoff to defeat Miguel Angel Jimenez for the trophy.
“No question this is a big market that supports golf and had always supported golf,” Durant said. “The Midwest is a great place to play. It’s fun to come through here.”
TPC will be ready
Strong storms that blew through the Blaine area June 11 left the TPC Twin Cities clubhouse roof and all 18 greens with major hail damage and felled 40 trees on the course.
But, Cavner said, there was never a doubt the course would be ready for the 3M Championship week, which runs July 31-Aug. 6.
“Put it this way: There was no Plan B,” Cavner said. “Everyone tells me by tournament time everything will be perfect.”
Plans are in the works to celebrate the life of 3M Championship mainstay and TPC Twin Cities co-designer Arnold Palmer, who died Sept. 25.
Already, a collection of nine framed magazine covers has been set up on a second-floor wall of the clubhouse.
Palmer last appeared in front of fans at the 3M in 2014 but he was active behind the scenes until his death.
“There will definitely be a void without him,” Cavner said. “He will always be a friend of the tournament.”
Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie and two-time winners Kenny Perry and Bernhard Langer highlight the early entries into the 3M Championship.