History of Pro Golf in New England Now Includes LIV Golf

Tiger Woods tees off at TPC Boston during the Deutsche Bank Championship circa 2009-10. Inset: Cam Smith and Marc Leishman ahead of the Boston event for LIV Golf. (Credit: Getty Images)

HARTFORD, Conn. – The LIV Golf Invitational Boston this week at The International in Bolton, Mass., will mark the newest professional golf group to compete in New England.

No. 2-ranked Cameron Smith, winner of the Open Championship and Players Championship, was one of six players to sign with the new LIV Golf Series and will head a 48-player field that will compete Friday through Sunday with no cut, team competitions and shotgun starts at 1 p.m.

Other notable entries in the fourth of eight LIV Golf events in the inaugural season are World Golf Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reid, Joaquin Niemann, Abraham Ancer, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey and Peter Uihlein, a native of Bedford, Mass.

The Pines Course at The International in Bolton (MA) will host many of the world’s top players Sept. 2-4 in the 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Boston.

Players will compete for $25 million, with a first prize of $4 million, and there will be four-man team competitions. The LIV Golf Series began June 9 in London, England, and there will be 14 events in 2023 with 12 established team franchises. The full slate of events will be announced at a later date and is expected to expand LIV Golf’s global footprint across North and Latin Americas, Asia, Australis, Europe and the Middle East, which is the home of Saudi Arabia, which is financing the circuit.

Professional golf in New England began in 1952 at Wethersfield Country Club as the Insurance City Open, the forerunner of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, one of the best attended events on the PGA Tour that has twice been named the Tournament of the Year and the Players’ Choice. The event moved from Wethersfield to Cromwell in 1984, and champions have included Hall of Famers Mickelson, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Nick Price, Greg Norman, Curtis Strange, Hubert Green, Lanny Wadkins, Gene Littler and Charlie Sifford, the first African-American winner of the PGA Tour. Other winners include Massachusetts natives Paul Azinger and Bob Toski, Rhode Island native Brad Faxon, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Kenny Perry, Stewart Cink, Peter Jacobsen, Ken Venturi and J.J. Henry, the only Connecticut native to win the title. Legendary entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. lent his name to the tournament in 1974-1988 and did an annual charity benefit that included the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Tom Driessen and Liza Minelli.

Pleasant Valley CC, rich in history and tradition, built a nationally acclaimed reputation since its debut in 1961 hosting professional golf tournaments and has been known as New England’s “Home of Professional Golf.”

Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, Mass., hosted PGA Tour and LPGA Tour tournaments, starting with the Lady Carling Eastern Open in 1962 and running through 1966. It also was the site of the LPGA Championship in 1967-68 and 1970-74, Patty Berg Classic (1969), AreaWEB.COM Challenge (1999) and the PGA Tour’s Kemper Open (1968), New England Classic/Avon Classic/Pleasant Valley Classic/Bank of Boston Classic/CVS Charity Classic (1969-1998). Notable champions included Palmer, Azinger and Hall of Famers Tony Lema, Ray Floyd and Pat Bradley, a Massachusetts native.

A young Adam Scott (22) captured the first Deutsche Bank Championship in 2003 blitzing the TPC Boston course in 24-under par to win by four over Rocco Mediate. Credit: Getty Images

Besides Pleasant Valley, the LPGA made brief stops at Heritage Village Country Club in Southbury, Blue Hill Country Club in Canton, Mass., Feeding Hills Country Club in Hampden, Mass., and Salem Country Club in Peabody, Mass., that has hosted six U.S. Golf Association events, including the U.S. Women’s Open in 1954 (Babe Didrikson Zaharias) and 1984 (Hollis Stacy) and U.S. Senior Open in 2001 (Bruce Fleisher) and in 2017 (Kenny Perry). Blue Hill also hosted the 1956 PGA Championship.

The Deutsche Bank Championship/Dell Technologies Championship was one of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup events during most of 2003-2018 at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass. Winners included Mickelson, DeChambeau, Stenson, Hall of Famers Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh, as well as Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler.

Kenny Perry finished at 16 under par to win the 2017 U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club, also host of the 2001 U.S. Senior Open won by Bruce Fleisher.

The PGA Tour Champions played at Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Mass., and the LPGA’s Legends of Golf Tour’s BJ’s Charity Championship has been held at Granite Links GC and at The Ridge Club in Sandwich, Mass. The LPGA’s Futures Tour played at Gillette Ridge Golf Club in Bloomfield in 2006-2008, where the scores were usually the highest on the tour.

Of course, The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. has a storied history of hosting professional golf events, most notable the 1913 U.S. Open won by amateur Francis Ouimet, as well as the 1988 U.S. Open won by Curtis Strange, and most recently the 2022 U.S. Open won by Matt Fitzpatrick. The club also hosted the epic 1999 Ryder Cup Matches.

The long tradition of world class professional golf events in New England continues this week as another chapter will be recorded!

Worked as sports writer for The Hartford Courant for 38 years before retiring in 2008. His major beats at the paper were golf, the Hartford Whalers, University of Connecticut men’s and women’s basketball, Yale football, United States and World Figure Skating Championships and ski columnist. He has covered every PGA Tour stop in Connecticut since 1971, along with 30 Masters, 25 U.S. Opens, four PGA Championships, 12 Deutsche Bank Championships, 15 Westchester (N.Y.) Classics and four Ryder Cups. He has won several Golf Writers Association of America writing awards, including a first place for a feature on John Daly, and was elected to the Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame in 2009. He also worked for the Connecticut Whale hockey team for two years when they were renamed by former Hartford Whalers managing general partner Howard Baldwin, who had become the marketing director of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the top affiliate of the New York Rangers.

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