Travelers Championship kicks off this week

CROMWELL -- The buzz for the 2018 Travelers Championship is everywhere.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to pour into Cromwell this week to watch some of the top golfers in the world face off. The tournament kicked off Monday morning with an opening ceremony.

"The players are showing up. The caddies are here. The families are coming in," said tournament director Nathan Grube. "The anticipation, you can feel it in the community, the excitement is there, people almost look at us as the kick off for the summer."

He said his crew spent Sunday night putting on the final touches to the course but for the most part, everything is set.

"You work all year for this week and the weather looks good. I'm excited for the fans and everybody but you feel the buzz in the air and it's contagious and it's pretty exciting," said Grube.

Every year, Grube said he wants to improve the course.

During last year's tournament, some of the top players said they enjoyed the big crowds around some of the holes in the back nine. This year, Grube said he made some changes.

“When Jordan and Rory both said that it kind of hit us," said Grube. "The crowds have some really good places to go on 15 through 18. What we wanted to do is create that feeling, that bowl type feeling, give the crowd some place to go, that comfortable places to stand or to sit. So on 1, we actually wrapped one in bleachers, they’re not even bleachers actually, they’re individual seats. They have seat backs on them. Totally different than anything we have ever done to kind of create that environment at one.”

The tournament started back in 1952. This year, fans can look forward to new additions like "chill zones" where they can watch from the comfort of an air-conditioned room. Organizers said they try to make each year better than the last, which is especially important when it comes to raising money for different charities.

"Every single dollar spent here that produces a profit, every profit dollar goes to support over a hundred charities," said Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy.

One of those charities is the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. It gives kids and teens like Carly Dimartino, who was diagnosed with cancer, a chance to go to camp.

"It allows kids like me who have been through a rough time to be at a regular camp and have the time of their lives with all the activities there," Dimartino said.

The tournament was able to donate $1.7 million last year, and organizers are hoping for more this year.

The Travelers Championship will run from June 21 to June 24 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. All active, reserve, retired U.S. service members, veterans and their families are welcome to come to any day of the tournament for free.