Jake was a competitive golfer for over a decade dating back to the days of being the Captain of his high school golf team. He has played more than 200 courses across 32 different states in the US. Now semi-retired, Jake continues to golf 3-4 days a week with a current 2 handicap, gives golf lessons to his friends and family, and provides a wealth of knowledge to Golf Circuit from his competitive playing days. Jake combines practical expertise with technical knowledge to create golfing strategies and training techniques for both beginners and scratch golfers.
Nestled among rolling maple, oak, and sycamore trees in Cromwell, Connecticut is TPC River Highlands, a championship-level golf course that has been home to PGA Tour events since 1984. Most notably, the course has been home to the Travelers Championship since 2007.
The course is located just 15 minutes south of Hartford and right along the Connecticut River, hence the name River Highlands. However, the course has been around since 1928 and has had numerous name changes since then.
At 6,841 yards and 70 strokes to par it is one of the shorter courses played on the PGA tour. The short length combined with the bunker and greens layout favors players with impeccable short game over the long ball.
TPC River Highlands History
While River Highlands has been around since 1928 it has been through a number of different names, redesigns, and owners throughout its nearly 100-year history. The original course was designed by Robert Ross and Maurice Kearney and opened in 1928 as Middletown Golf Club.
In 1934 the course was renamed the Edgewood Country Club which stuck all the way until 1984 when it was renamed TPC of Connecticut. Ownership history is difficult to track down for its early years, but it was acquired by TPC (Tournament Players Club) in the early 1980’s and has been under their ownership ever since. Alongside a remodeling in 1989 the course received it’s current name: TPC at River Highlands.
Course Remodels and Updates
Designed originally by Robert Ross and Maurice Kearney, the course remained unchanged from its 1928 opening until 1982 when the back-9 underwent a complete redesign by Pete Dye to make it more challenging and on par with the standards held by TPC. Pete Dye was a notorious course designed, having been the original designer of more than 100 courses over his lifetime, including a number of TPC courses such as Sawgrass, Lousiana, and San Antonio.
With only a minor redesign in 1982 the front-9 later received a full redesign in 1989 by Bobby Weed. Bobby most notably has designed TPC Las Vegas, Summerlin, and Tampa Bay. Furthermore, the 1989 redesign was also completed with help of professional golfers Howard Twitty and Roger Maltbie.
In 2016 Bobby Weed came back to complete a bunker modernization which used various technical data in conjunction with the PGA Tour’s design team to adjust all the bunkers and make the course more challenging. Additionally, the greens were updated at the same time to help in optimize the bunker layout and increase the importance of short game skills.
Course Overview & Scorecard
TPC River Highlands is a short par-70 coming in at 6,841 yards. For members and visitors who aren’t tour professionals, the course offers four additional tee boxes ranging in distance from 4,871 yards (Red) to 6,518 yards (Blue). While the course notoriously plays under par for the professionals it is considerably more difficult for the average golfer.
The course is situated on 148 acres and is lined with beautiful trees. The grass throughout the course is Bentgrass and the rough is Bluegrass Fescue. It features numerous ponds and water obstacles with the most famous being holes 15-17, dubbed The Golden Triangle, that are lined around a 4-acre lake that loves to claim golf balls.
Overall, the course is known for its small and elevated greens that feature short cuts and steep runoffs. The tough greens dotted with bunkers make for difficult approach shots that will test any player’s short game if they miss the green or send their ball rolling down the steep greenside hills.
Bobby Weed took it easy on River Highlands players with the front nine holes playing considerably easier than the back nine. The first nine holes actually come in a bit longer than the back, at 3,535 yards from the tips.
The most notable hole on the front side is hole #2 which is a par-4 that only plays 341 yards, making it a tempting hole for the big hitters. The short distance makes it the most birdie-able hole on the course. Aside from this hole the remaining par 4’s and the lone par 5 are average distance. Hole #5 is a deep par-3 coming in at 233 yards but it has a very big and forgiving green that makes it a little more manageable.
While the front nine is a bit less exciting than the back it does feature a few of the toughest holes on the course. Hole 6 is a 574-yard par-5 that comes in as the most challenging hole at TPC River Highlands as it is only reachable in 2 for some of the longer hitters out there. Hole 7, a 443-yard par-4 comes in as the 3rd most challenging hole due to the number of big fairway bunkers.
With the front nine ripe for low scores the back nine serves as more of a challenge, providing some opportunities for players to drop strokes to the tough water features. The back 9 plays shorter than the front at 3,317 yards from the Gold tips. It is home to “The Golden Triangle” which is a 3 hole stretch from hole 15 to 17 which provides some excitement on Sunday’s during a tight matchup.
The Golden Triangle
Holes 15, 16, and 17 at River Highlands surround a massive 4-acre lake creating a ton of water ball opportunities.
Hole 15 is a short 296 yard par-4 with water to the left and sand traps to the right. Driving accuracy is important – especially for those who think they can lay it up there on the flat top in one. While coming in as one of the easiest holes on the course (ranked 16th hardest) the drivable distance and water to the left make it an interesting situation of risk and reward.
Hole 16 is an over the water par-3 at a modest 171 yards. The green has a lot of slope and has two bunkers on its sides and two more in the back. The front side of the green slopes towards the water with a steep rough, forcing players to go long to avoid the water.
The finish of The Golden Triangle is hole 17, the fourth most challenging hole on the course. From the tee box you have a tight fairway with water all to the right and bunkers to the left. If you can pull off a good drive your approach shot will have to gap all the way across the water – with virtually no trees or obstacles preventing the wind from interrupting your shot.
PGA Tour Events at TPC River Highlands
The Travelers Championship held at TPC River Highlands is the same PGA Tour event that has been taking place since 1952, however, there have been a number of name changes throughout the years and a venue change. The event original debuted in 1952 as the Insurance City Open but was played just a few minutes away at the Wethersfield Country Club.
The name changed in 1967 to the Greater Hartford Open and was also frequently associated with Sammy Davis Jr., a musician who frequented PGA events and played in the Pro-Ams. When TPC purchased Edgewood Country Club they moved the event to the newly purchased course, which was renamed TPC of Connecticut.
TPC River Highlands is home to the Travelers Championship, a PGA Tour event that has been sponsored by Travelers Insurance since 2007. However, the tour event at River Highlands has been around since 1984 when the PGA Tour/TPC purchase Englewood Country Club and renamed it TPC of Connecticut.
Greater Hartford Open (1984, 2003)
The Greater Hartford Open lasted from 1967 through 1984, but the only year it was actually hosted by TPC River Highlands was in 1984. The event was often called the Sammy Davis Jr. – Greater Hartford Open due to his sponsorship of the tournament.
After Canon’s sponsorship of the tournament ended in 2002 its name reverted back to the Greater Hartford Open until Buick picked up the sponsorship in 2004.
Canon Greater Hartford Open (1985-2002)
In 1985 Canon became the main title sponsor of the event and the tournament became the Canon Greater Hartford Open all the way until 2002. From 1985-1988 the tournament also had Sammy Davis’ name in it until he eventually retired from sponsoring the tournament.
Buick Championship (2004-2006)
After Canon dropped off the tournament it reverted back to the Greater Hartford Open for a season until Buick came on as the title sponsor. However, they decided not to renew after their 3-year agreement helped keep the tournament on the tour. If Buick had not picked up the spot the tournament likely would have dropped to the Champions Tour, formerly known as the Senior Tour.
Phil Mickelson, who won the tournament back-to-back in 2001 and 2002 helped keep the tournament alive amidst the challenge to find a new sponsor.
Travelers Championship (2007-Present)
After Buick’s agreement ended TPC River Highlands was dropped from the PGA Tour very briefly before Travelers stepped in to save the tournament. Travelers remains the sponsor today and has revived the tournament, with it frequently coming in second place for highest PGA Tour event attendance, only behind the WM Phoenix Open.
Hartford, CT is considered the Insurance Capital of the World hence the previous tournament name; The Insurance City Open. Despite being headquartered in New York, Travelers was founded in Hartford and has a storied history with the city making the tournament a perfect sponsorship opportunity for them.
how much does it cost to be a member at tPC River Highlands?
TPC River Highlands has an estimated $35,000 initiation fee with monthly dues from the $500 to $750 ballpark.
Where is TPC River Highlands Located?
The course is located at 1 Golf Club Rd, Cromwell, CT 06416, United States which is about 15 minutes from downtown Hartford, Connecticut.
How much does it cost to play tPC River Highlands?
Unfortunately, the course is a private, membership-only course. To play you either have to be a direct member or a membership at any one of the other courses within the TPC Network of courses. Members of the Connecticut Bar Association can pay $250 annually to play specific days at the course, not including green or cart fees.
What is the course record?
Jim Furyk shot a 58 (12-under) in 2016 at the Travelers Championship. Prior to Furyk’s 58, the record was held by Patrick Cantlay who shot a 60 in 2011 as a 19-year old amateur while playing for UCLA.
Who owns tPC River Highlands?
The course is owned by TPC – Tournament Players Club which is a division of the PGA Tour that owns and operates golf courses throughout the country.
Is TPC River Highlands a Hard Course?
At par 70 and 6,841 yards it is one of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour. While it is a moderately easy course for professionals, with tournament scores usually ranging from -12 to -20 it is a challenging course for non professionals. It features small, elevated greens and tough bunkers that pose a challenge for the average golfer.