(CBS Minnesota) — TPC Twin Cities opened a little over 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, 7,431-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 in 2019. It was the first time a course had made that transition.READ MORE: Marcus Foligno's Goal Sends Wild To 4-3 OT Win Against Blackhawks
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.
Many of the changes affected TPC Twin Cities’ finishing holes. On the par-4 16th hole, rough was replaced with bentgrass, and bunkers were moved to narrow the hole. The par-3 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 will be needed again at this year’s event.
TPC Twin Cities eases players in with a relatively short par-4 that offers plenty of birdie chances. At 593 yards, the par-5 sixth hole is a double dogleg leading to a wide putting green. The seventh hole, nicknamed “Tom’s Thumb,” is a 372-yard par-4, that could see some eagles, despite the new pushed-back tee. The ninth hole is a long par-4 at 489 yards, but tends to not play up to that distance thanks to the wind. The treacherous green slopes toward a lake on the right. The par-4 14th hole, measuring 415 yards, doglegs left around Cavner’s Cove.READ MORE: In Playoffs, Packers Fall To 49ers At Lambeau Field
“We want birdies and train wrecks,” as Hollis Cavner, the tournament’s executive director, said before the inaugural event. ”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 tournament’s second field fared almost as well. Last year Michael Thompson birdied two of his last three holes to secure a two-stroke win. He shot 19-under for the event. Adam Long, who barely made the cut, finished second. Nine players finished one stroke behind Long.
This year’s 3M Open falls a week after the Open Championship and a week before the Men’s golf competition at the Olympics. Thompson returns to defend his title. Dustin Johnson, the world’s second-ranked player, is also in the field.MORE NEWS: More Than 400 Crashes & Spinouts On Minnesota Roads Amid Saturday's Snow
Watch the 3M Open Saturday, July 24 and Sunday, July 25, 3:00 – 6:00 PM ET on CBS.