(CBS Minnesota) — TPC Twin Cities opened two decades ago in Blaine, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis and St. Paul. It was there that renowned golfers Arnold Palmer and Tom Lehman, the latter a Minnesota native, turned what was once a sod farm into a haven for championship golf. The par-71, 7,468-yard links course, framed by grand oaks, spruce and pines, flows through the prairie and hilly terrain of the Minnesota countryside. Small lakes dot the layout.
The course had been a regular stop on the PGA Tour Champions since 2001, hosting the 3M Championship through 2018. With that event’s conclusion, TPC Twin Cities undertook renovations to prepare itself for its debut on the PGA Tour as host of the 3M Open. It was the first time a course had made that transition.
The “competitive enhancements” began just days after the 2018 Champions. Long, harsh Minnesota winters limited the timetable for the work. The renovations lengthened the layout to its current distance and narrowed it to up the difficulty. What once played as one of the Senior Tour’s easier courses increased in distance by over 400 yards.
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Many of the changes affected TPC Twin Cities’ finishing holes. On the 16th hole, rough was replaced with bentgrass, and bunkers were moved to narrow the hole. The 17th hole received new tee boxes. The lake on the par-5 18th hole doubled in size, completely changing how players have to approach it. Extra room was built in to accommodate grandstands and hospitality, space that won’t be needed during this year’s spectator-free event but will be again at future events.
TPC Twin Cities eases players in with a relatively short par-4 that offers plenty of birdie chances. At 591 yards, the par-5 sixth hole is a double dogleg leading to a wide putting green. Last year’s inaugural field went birdie hunting here, picking up a stroke almost half the time. The ninth hole is a long par-4 at 504 yards, but tends to tends to not play up to that distance. The treacherous green slopes toward a lake on the right. The par-4 14th hole, stretching 427 yards, doglegs left around Cavner’s Cove.
“We want birdies and train wrecks,” as Hollis Cavner, the tournament’s executive director, said before the inaugural event last year. ”We feel very comfortable that this golf course is going to play hard and fast. It’s going to play long. If we get wind, it’s a game-changer.”
That generally wasn’t the case against its first PGA Tour field. Matthew Wolff shot 21-under for the event in just his third PGA Tour event as a professional. The exciting finish included two eagles. Bryson DeChambeau’s was followed by Wolff’s 26-foot eagle putt for the lead and the win. He bested DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa by just one stroke. The cut line was 4-under. Twelve players finished the weekend better than 15-under.
The scores could’ve been lower. And given the strong field at the 2020 event, they may very well be. This year’s 3M Open falls just two weeks before the PGA Championship, the first of three majors in the adjusted season. It will be the players’ last chance to tweak their game. Expect the PGA Tour’s best to go birdie hunting once again.
Watch the 3M Open Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26, 3:00 – 6:00 PM ET on CBS.