Let's play golf (web only)

“One sport I could never watch is golf.”

That’s what elementary-school-age me once said to my neighborhood friend’s dad. As a young, developing sports fan, I had an affinity for almost all sports and was grooming my sports knowledge and passion rapidly. But following golf? Nah.

And yet, all these years later, that’s exactly what I set out to do when my alarm went off at 4:32 a.m. Sunday morning.

My week-long vacation on a warm beach in Florida ended when my plane landed at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Saturday evening. Upon landing, I eventually reached my car only to find that it had come down with a mysterious ailment and needed to be towed back to Hutchinson. Following some stressful hours relaying the issues to my father, coordinating with the tow company and working with my fiancee to give me a ride, I arrived at her family’s home in Mankato just in time to see the sunset.

A few short hours later, I’d be on the road again in a borrowed vehicle witnessing the sunrise on my journey north to Blaine to watch the final round of the inaugural 3M Open. Jet-lagged and drained from a week in the sun, it took a little longer than usual to rub off the sleep. The ticket was a gift from my fiancee, though, and one that I had been looking forward to for months.

I pulled into the tournament’s general admission parking lot to find I was one of approximately 20 cars that had decided to arrive almost a full half hour before the last-place golfer teed off. It made for a short 15-step walk to the security checkpoint and a waiting shuttle, which dropped passengers off at TPC Twin Cities a few miles away.

It’s become a routine of mine when attending golf and PGA Tour events to arrive at the course early. There’s just something about seeing a pristine golf course glistening with morning dew in the bright and rising sun that hasn’t yet reached its peak temperature. My excitement perked up instantly.

From that first moment through the sweltering heat and bustling crowds of the afternoon, the 3M Open was all I’d hoped it would be. Between following competitors including Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Lucas Glover and Bryson DeChambeau play approximately a combined 35 holes, the day’s action and excitement grew with the humidity.

The course was full of fans, yet there was always space to walk and occasionally an opportunity to sit and rest weary legs. The crowds were tight, but never pushy, and we appreciated the high-quality golf that was on display. It was easy to strike up a conversation with a random fellow spectator or hole marshal, bonding over watching some of the best golfers in the world bringing their talents to our home state.

The roars echoed through the confines of the course throughout the day, building to a crescendo in the closing minutes of the tournament. The course has its fair share of unique holes, but the conclusion of the tournament proved that the 18th hole is a perfect risk/reward challenge to complete an incredible fourth round.

Sports Illustrated’s Daniel Rapaport wrote it best, saying “The scene on the finishing hole slapped an exclamation point on what was one of the most entertaining final rounds in recent memory.”

The final two groups, led by a trio of golfers with a chance to win, provided several goosebump-inducing moments. If you were there, you know what I’m talking about. Some moments in life need to be experienced to be put into proper context, and this was one of them.

Last summer I wrote a column in this space expressing my excitement that the PGA Tour would be returning full time to Minnesota for the first time in 50 years. After this past weekend’s tournament, I think many golf fans around the state would agree that they’re already dreaming to see what the second year has in store.

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