Travelers Championship popularity continues to soar
PGA Tour

Travelers Championship popularity continues to soar

It’s certainly shaping up to be yet another solid field at this year’s Travelers Championship.

The list of players who have committed to this year’s tournament at TPC River Highlands is a veritable who’s who of PGA Tour superstars including the likes of Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Keegan Bradley, Angel Cabrera, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker and defending champion Ken Duke.

Stanford star and Connecticut native Cameron Wilson, who won the NCAA men's individual title a few weeks ago, will make his pro debut at the Travelers.

At 44 years old, journeyman Ken Duke captured his first PGA Tour victory at last year’s Travelers by outlasting Chris Stroud with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff.

With tickets sales tracking 20 percent ahead of last year, it’s clear the tournament is not only popular among the players but the fans as well. Slotted the week after the always-grueling U.S. Open, the stellar roster of players who choose to play in the Travelers rather than take the week off is a testament to how much they enjoy the event.

“If you work to eliminate the barriers that make it difficult for a player to attend, it becomes an easy event to play,” said Nathan Grube, tournament director. “The guys want it to be easy to come to a tournament so that they can focus on their game on the course.”

To that end, the Travelers charters a free flight for the players and their families, has a tremendous day-care program and takes very good care of the caddies.

“We try to anticipate as many details as possible and really be proactive about making this a great experience,” Grube said.

The Travelers insurance company, which became the title sponsor for the event back in 2007, announced in February that it had extended its sponsorship of the golf tournament through 2024.

Getting the top players on Tour to compete in the Travelers requires much more than simple recruiting. Grube says it’s about getting to know the players, their families, their caddies or what he calls “relationship building.”

“It is about learning what is important to them and doing what we can to provide what they are looking for,” Grube said. “We really spend a lot of time listening to the players and then doing what we can to make our event as appealing as possible. We know the guys won’t be able to come every year, but having them come every other year makes for a great field each year.”

Keeping the tournament fresh and innovative year after year is one of Grube’s biggest priorities. He says his team spends a significant amount of time after the event debriefing and analyzing every aspect of the experience for every constituent.

“What we did the year before is only the baseline for improvement the next year,” Grube said. “We agreed to launch this event with a sense of ‘expectation.’ We wanted the fans, players, caddies, sponsors – everyone – asking ‘what’s next?’”

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John Lahtinen

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