TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERIENCE
Course: TPC at River Highlands
Location: Cromwell, Connecticut
Most wins: Billy Casper (4)
The Travelers Championship is one of the most prominent sporting events on the Connecticut sporting calendar and has been a fixture on the PGA Tour since 1952. Over the years, the tournament has been known by a variety of names, beginning as the Insurance City Open, renamed the Greater Hartford Open in 2003 and going through a series of sponsorships before The Travelers Companies picked up the sponsorship in 2007. The stroke play tournament was originally held at the Wethersfield Country Club, but moved to the redesigned TPC at River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn., in the early 1990s. The event is played each year during early June and boasts a $6 million purse.
The TPC at River Highlands is one of the best golf courses in New England, and has gone through a series of renovations. The course was redesigned in 1982 by the legendary golf architect Pete Dye, and it underwent a second renovation in 1989 by Bobby Weed and consultant players Howard Twitty and Roger Maltbie. The TPC at River Highlands features many gently rolling fairways framed by stately maple, oak and sycamore trees. The holes 15-18 are considered one of the toughest stretches in professional golf, with 15-17 being constructed around a 4-acre lake. Pro golfer Stewart Cink has called the stretch "Four of the most exciting finishing holes in a group anywhere in the world." The course is also certified by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, which includes many wildlife habitat preservation and ecologically sound and management principles.
In addition to providing a boost for the local Connecticut economy, tournaments like the Travelers Championship are renowned for their charitable contributions to the surrounding region. Since the tournament began in 1952, the event has donated more than $30 million to charities in the surrounding community, like the Greater Hartford Community Foundation, Inc. and many others. The event's timing in early June has also helped to make it the second-most attended tournament on the PGA Tour calendar. In 2002, the Travelers Championship set a record attendance number by attracting nearly 400,000 fans throughout the week.
The Travelers Championship counts for 500 points in the FedEx Cup rankings and has been the spot where many golfers try to make up for lost ground in the early spring to make a run at summer and fall majors. Over the event's history, the tournament has seen multiple two-time winners, including Arnold Palmer, Paul Azinger, Phil Mickelson, Peter Jacobsen and Stewart Cink, but Billy Casper's amazing four top finishes in the mid-'60s and early '70s keeps him at the top of the rankings. While the event has changed its timing many times over the years, its new position a week after the U.S. Open has allowed the Travelers Championship to garner plenty of buzz after the completion of the early majors and its stunning growth now places it among the most high-profile golf tournaments in the U.S. each year.