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Monday, April 23, 2007

New look at TPC River Highlands

Construction has begun The Tournament Players Club at River Highlands will take on a little different look than it has in recent years for the annual golf tournament in June. People will notice right away because the road they take from Route 99 into the area to park will re-route behind the new driving range being built in the area where the expo tents were the last few years. It's a chance for the new Travelers Championship to catch up with the times. The current driving range between the first and 18th holes is outdated for today's equipment. The pros could launch their huge drivers over the net that borders the 17th fairway into the pond that borders the other side. That's dangerous for spectators in the corporate tents or ones with their backs to the range. When the Travelers took over title sponsorship, they started to survey the players, their caddies and their wives. What they found out, they probably already knew: they needed a new range, or the good players would continue not to show up in Cromwell. Players need proper practice facilities to prepare for a tournament. Hence, the new range being built for $4.5 million over 23 acres of land. Not only will the range be approximately 100 yards longer, but also much wider with a larger chipping area and three short holes for the players to also warm up on. The First Tee of Connecticut will also move there from Rocky Hill. The project is expected to be complete in time for the 2008 tournament. For now, it will be business as usual while the range is being built. It will be worth it by 2008. There will be an area for the fans to watch the players hit balls with more comfort than where they currently have to sit. And the old range will be turned into a corporate row/concert area, for people to congregate, a melting pot of sorts. But here's your chance now to come and support the tournament. It almost died not once, but twice, in this decade alone. Now, Phil Mickelson will be back on the grounds for the first time since 2003. David Toms will be making his first appearance of the decade, and defending champion J.J. Henry will also be back. Fans have stayed away with good reason the past three years. The tournament had bad dates and a bad field because of it. With Mickelson back, that is reason enough to come to the tournament the week of June 18-24. All you need to know is the tournament will follow the U.S. Open, or Father's Day, each of the next four years. It's time to return River Highlands to one of the largest-attended tournaments on the PGA Tour.

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