A History of The Travelers Championship. By John Torsiello.
A History of The Travelers Championship
The Travelers Championship is one of the longest running tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule.
The tourney was founded in 1952 as the Insurance City Open and in 1967 it was renamed the Greater Hartford Open, a title that was retained through 2003. From 1973 to 1988, the GHO also bore the name of the late entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., who would often play in the pro-ams and bring in some of his big-name friends, such as Bob Hope and Flip Wilson. Canon, the camera giant, was a title sponsor from 1985 to 2002, the car company Buick was title sponsor from 2004 to 2006, and The Travelers Companies, a Connecticut-based insurance provider, took over sponsorship in 2007.
The tournament's was played for its first three decades at cozy Wethersfield Country Club. In 1984, after the PGA Tour bought and redesigned Edgewood Country Club, the event moved to the new TPC of Connecticut in Cromwell. In 1991, the course was redesigned with a completely new back nine holes and renamed the TPC at River Highlands. The Cromwell facility was the third PGA Tour-owned/managed golf course in what would grow to a network of over 30 TPC clubs.
The purse for the first tournament, won by Ted Kroll, was $15,000. In 2006 tournament, under Buick's sponsorship, the purse grew to $4.4 million, with $792,000 going to the winner. From 2007 to 2010, the purse under Travelers' sponsorship was $6 million, with $1,080,000 going to the champion. It is up slightly this year to $6.4 million, with $1.152 million going to the winner.
The tournament has seen a who’s who of professional golf claim the title over the years, from Arnold Palmer and Billy Casper to Greg Norman, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. Its position on the calendar has varied. In 2005 it was played in late August but in 2006 it was played in late June. Part of the FedEx Cup, the Travelers Championship has been played in late June, the week after the U.S. Open, ever since. The Travelers is one of the most attended events on the PGA Tour and the tournament set a record attendance in 2002 with nearly 400,000 fans for the week.
The Insurance City Open was founded by the Greater Hartford Jaycees as a means to raise funds to support their philanthropic causes. The Jaycees are international leadership development organization for men and women ages 21 and 40. In 1971, The Greater Hartford Jaycees Foundation, Inc. was established as a grant-giving entity by the Greater Hartford Jaycees, Inc. with the help of PGA pro Bob Murphy, who donated part of his winnings as 1970 Greater Hartford Open champion. The event raises almost a million dollars a year for local charities.