Blaine's 3M Championship relishes last year as senior golf event, eager for PGA Tour future

For 26 years, there’s been a certain charm to hosting a senior golf event.

“It’s cool because they’re my age, and to see them hit,” said Greg Cronin, a longtime volunteer at the 3M Championship in Blaine.

It’s about seeing old guys who are still phenomenal and who used to be the young guys who were phenomenal. There are some colorful figures, quite literally the case in John Daly.  

Cronin is one of so many volunteers who’ve done so since day one 26 years ago.

“I just love doing this. It’s just a lot of fun. The people, the camaraderie, it’s just a great event,” he said.

It began in 1993 as the Bunker Hill Senior Classic at Bunker Hills. Chi Chi Rodriguez won the inaugural tournament.

18 years ago it became the 3M Championship when it moved to then newly opened TPC Twin Cities.

“It is a little bittersweet,” said Alan Cull, the General Manager at TPC. “We use a slogan here at the club now that we’re going to honor the past, we’re going to celebrate the present and we’re going to embrace the future.”

With the event become a PGA Tour stop next year, it’s just this one last time the senior golfers will trace across these links.

It’s the end of an era for fans who fear more crowds will change their uncrowded tournament.

As soon as this tournament is done, changes will begin as the course will be lengthened 300-400 yards. The fairways will be narrowed, too.

The new plans include triple the hospitality space next year and triple the parking.

“We’ve had so many great moments,” said Jennifer Hines. “And things over the years. That yes I will truly miss them. But we’re looking forward to the future as well.”

She added, “On Sunday when that last putt falls, we’ll have our celebration and then we’re on to 2019 and the new event.”