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Travelers says changes are coming to TPC River Highlands after complaints over low scores

Two Connecticut Air Guard C-130’s flyover the 2023 Traveler’s Championship on June 21, 2023 in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Dave Wurtzel
Connecticut Public
Two Connecticut Air Guard C-130’s flyover the 2023 Traveler’s Championship on June 21, 2023 in Cromwell, Connecticut.

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Changes will be made to the TPC River Highlands after record low scoring last week during the PGA Tour's Travelers Championship, tournament officials said Wednesday.

Andy Bessette, Travelers' executive vice president and chief administrative officer, told The Associated Press that officials at the club, which is owned by the tour, are already looking at modifications to the course to make it more difficult next year.

“We take all the feedback we get very seriously,” Bessette said. “I can tell you that changes are already in the works. We strive for this to be a top-notch event and we will do everything we can to improve it every year.”

Keegan Bradley shot a tournament-record total of 23-under 257, a shot better than Kenny Perry’s previous record from 2009. There were eight rounds of 62 or better during the week, which was marked by some rainy, but not windy days that kept the greens soft.

After his final round, Rory McIlroy, who tied for seventh at 18 under, called the 6,852-yard, par-70 course “obsolete."

“I don’t particularly like when a tournament is like this,” he said. “Unfortunately technology has passed this course by, right? It sort of has made it obsolete, especially as soft as it has been with a little bit of rain that we had. So, again, like the conversations going back to, you know, limiting the golf ball and stuff like that, when we come to courses like this they just don’t present the challenge that they used to."

Bessette called those comments a “blessing in disguise.” He said he sent an email Monday to several of the tour's top players asking for their feedback.

“I told them, I'm not a golf course expert, but you are. What can we do?” he said.

He said there were about 10 specific suggestions that he feels can be implemented right away. He said he talked to officials at the course, who agreed to modify it.

He did not detail those modifications, but there have been suggestions such as increasing the number of hazards, growing out the rough, shrinking the greens or narrowing some fairways. Because of land constraints, there is not much that could immediately be done to lengthen the course, which is among the shortest on tour, tournament officials have said.

Nathan Grube, the tournament director, said nothing specific has been decided for 2024.

“The tour owns that property,” Grube said. “It's a PGA Tour event that we're a part of, so ultimately it will be their decision. But they have always been a very, very good partner when it comes to anything that would benefit the tournament.”

McIlroy, for one, said he didn't think narrower fairways and thicker rough was the answer.

“That bunches everyone together," he said. “The blueprint is something like (Los Angeles Country Club, where the U.S. Open was held) where you have wide targets, but if you miss it’s penal. This isn’t that sort of golf course. It’s not that sort of layout. It doesn’t have the land to do that. So, you know, unfortunately when you get soft conditions like this and you’ve got the best players in the world, this is what’s going to happen.”

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