By Jeff Wagner

BLAINE, Minn. (WCCO) – Consistently warm weather is about all that’s keeping Victory Links Golf Course in Blaine from opening this spring.

Since Sunday afternoon, head teaching professional Jason Erickson said there’s been a rush of people eager to hit the course.

“Literally as soon as the tournament ended, people were calling wanting to book tee times, which is pretty much what he does,” said Erickson, who was talking specifically about Tiger Woods.

About 24 hours earlier, Woods won the Masters Tournament, his 15th major title and first in 11 years. He’s arguably the greatest and most popular golfer ever, whose personal success has a direct effect on his sport’s industry.

“It probably means 10% to the bottom line of every golf course in America having Tiger Woods back on the scene and winning a major championship and taking a run at being No. 1 again,” Erickson said.

That journey to the top could include a stop at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, which will host the 3M Open, a new PGA tour event, in early July.

Tournament director Peter Mele said Woods historically plays a warm-up tournament two weeks before a major tournament. The 3M Open is two weeks before the Open Championship, commonly called the British Open.

“It allows us to be optimistic that he’s gonna pick this event,” Mele said.

The 3M Open has already booked major champions like Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Jason Day, but even Mele knows landing Tiger would bring a new kind of roar to the course.

“Tiger, he kind of transcends the sport. So he brings fans that maybe not are golf fans. They’re fans of Tiger or they just like to watch events that he’s in,” Mele said. “Tiger made golf cool. Tiger brought people to the game that before would never think about playing golf.”

That sentiment is exactly what Erickson noticed in the 2000s when Woods’ dominance was at its peak.

“I believe a lot of people came into the game because of Tiger Woods and a lot of those people have left the game. And I think a lot of those people will come back,” Erickson said.

Tickets are on sale for the 3M Open. Organizers also still looking for volunteers.

Jeff Wagner