As a Minnesota resident, I'm excited to see the PGA TOUR stroll into town this week. I've only been here for a few years, though, so I can't say it's been a long wait for me personally.
It's been 50 years since the TOUR had a regular pit stop in Minnesota. The St. Paul Open / Minnesota Golf Classic ran from 1930 through 1969.
This week, it will be a full field of 156 golfers that will go head to head with TPC Twin Cities for the inaugural 3M Open. The Top 70 and ties will make it through the 36-hole cut to play the weekend.
This week's host venue is TPC Twin Cities which is located in Blaine, Minnesota (just North of Minneapolis). It's an Arnold Palmer Design which hosted a Champions Tour event from 1993 to 2018.
The course has been lengthened and par adjusted, with the consultant help of Tom Lehman, in order to test the PGA TOUR pros. It is now a par 71 that plays up to 7,468 yards. Even with the added length and losing one par 5, this is still setting up to be a scoring fest. The executive director of Pro Links Sports is on the record as saying, "We want birdies and train wrecks, and we don’t want to be the hardest golf course on the tour."
When you first go hole-by-hole at the course, it's easy to see that it'd be a nightmare to play for a 20-handicapper because there is water in play on more than half the holes. There are 27 water hazards sprinkled around the property which falls in line with the state's reputation of loving large bodies of water.
However, most of that water is muted when you consider the landing areas are very generous by TOUR standards which will allow these pros to take water out of play in a lot of cases. The course is not heavily guarded by trees so if the wind picks up then we could see some carnage with big numbers lurking around every corner. Of course, the wind forecast is really calm, so that shouldn't be an issue this week.
Other than water, the course also has 74 bunkers to navigate around.
For approach targets, golfers will see greens with an average square footage of 6,500 square feet which is right on the TOUR average. The greens are bentgrass and roll very true. They have a very strict poa annua prevention policy so the greens remain mostly bent. Unlike last week, there isn't a lot of undulations to deal with so birdies should be getting splashed home from everywhere this week. During the senior event, they were prepped at 12 feet on the stimp meter so we should expect them to run at 12 to 12.5 feet this week.
Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week:
Muirfield Village (Memorial Tournament)
Sheshan International (WGC-HSBC)
TPC Sawgrass (PLAYERS)
Nine Bridges (CJ CUP)
Glen Abbey (Canadian Open)
TPC Kuala Lumpur (CIMB Classic)
We don't have historical stats to lean on this week so the recipe I looked for was courses with a lot of water in play but also low scoring available. I looked for higher than average Double Bogey or Worse rates but also courses with higher than average Birdie or Better rates.
If you wanted to take the region + birdie-fest angle then courses like TPC Deere Run and/or Detroit Golf Club would also fit the bill.
Thursday: Mostly cloudy and humid with a 50% chance of storms. High of 84 degrees with calm winds.
Friday: Cloudy and humid with a 20% chance of storms. Winds on the calm side, around 6-to-10 MPH.
Weekend: Temps dip into the upper 70s. The threat of storms remains (but not likely). Winds stay calm.
It's Fourth of July in the Midwest which means storms will always be a possibility. The lack of wind should lead to a winning score around 20-under for the week, give or take a few strokes in either direction.