by Jeff Skinner
One of the things that struck me this week about the Travelers Championship is that the fields seem to get better each year. Drawing a post-major week on the PGA Tour isn’t a recipe for success. And the week prior to a major isn’t much better as many players like to have the week off to prepare or a week off to decompress from the majors.
But the Travelers has blossomed in the week after the U.S. Open and players that make the trip up to TPC River Highlands are rarely disappointed. There isn’t a player that hasn’t raved about the treatment the folks at the Travelers shower on the players and their wives.
Another reason many players keep coming back is that the Travelers has a history of reaching out to young players, both professional and amateur, to come and play long before they are on the radar of other tournaments.
Ryan Herrington of Golf Digest, spills the beans on Travelers Tournament Director, Nathan Grube. It seems that Grube makes a very concerted effort to evaluate good young talent and holds sponsor’s exemptions open for any youngster that he thinks could use a break.
“The unofficial policy of targeting young players became even more defined, however, when Travelers took over as a title sponsor in 2007, with four exemptions typically going to players in the first years of their pro careers. Grube says each January he begins “scouting” potential targets, exploring the college and amateur rankings and chatting with agents on who they are targeting as future clients.
Given the timing of the event — shortly after the end of the college season and the week following the U.S. Open — it has become a natural spot on the calendar for those looking to turn pro to make the jump. Along with Williams and Cantlay, Kyle Stanley, Morgan Hoffmann, Kevin Tway and Dustin Garza have all made their pro debut at the Travelers since 2009.”
It’s a policy that has paid off nicely for Grube and the Travelers. If you get them while they are young and hungry maybe they’ll remember those who gave them their start when they are big stars on tour.
So far it has worked for Grube and the Travelers gets better every year.