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Fan experience is No. 1 goal at Boston’s 2020 PGA Tour event

Jordan Speith high-fives fans as he walks off a green at TPC Boston in 2017. Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff file/Globe Staff

In its return to Boston, the PGA Tour is on a mission to give itself a strong Boston accent.

The 2020 Northern Trust will be played at TPC Boston in Norton Aug. 13-16, serving as the first stop in the tour’s postseason, the three-stage FedExCup Playoffs.

Besides the field of the top 125 players in the game — a group that is expected to include such stars as Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, and Tiger Woods vying for a $9.5 million purse — the event is focused on creating Boston-oriented experiences to engage fans ranging from fervent to casual.

Assuming sponsors can be rustled up over the next few months, the tour stop wants to have spots along the course where fans can try hitting golf shots over a Fenway Park Green Monster replica, relax in a Lawn on D replica replete with the iconic swings, or visit a Boston-sports-teams-themed Kids Zone or a beer garden (featuring craft beers brewed, presumably, in New England).

A more opulent “ultra-VIP” experience will be available in the new Commonwealth Club, an upgraded hospitality area offering valet parking, clubhouse access, creative cocktails, as well as premium shopping, plus an entry to a private suite at the 18th green.


“We spent a lot of time in 2019 thinking about how we wanted to reimagine this event and really make it quintessentially Boston,” said Julie Tyson, the executive director of the tournament, at a kickoff gathering at Fenway Park Thursday.

Tyson was joined by Henry Johnson, the president of Northern Trust Wealth Management/East Region, Red Sox president/CEO Sam Kennedy, and Fenway Sports Management president Mark Lev. The PGA Tour and FSM have been partners since 2006, and now FSM is a partner with Northern Trust and will help with marketing and sponsorship.

The leaders of the Northern Trust emphasized their commitment to making the golf tournament a charitable opportunity as well.


In acknowledging Kennedy and Lev as her “spiritual sherpas” for helping her and Northern Trust get to know the Boston market, Tyson pointed out their mutual greater interests.

“These guys are the real deal — they care very deeply about the experience they provide for the fans and more importantly they care very deeply about the charitable proceeds that get delivered,” said Tyson. “They push us every day to be aggressive with our approach to that.”

Johnson presented a $50,000 check to Kennedy for the Red Sox Foundation and earmarked for the Boston Scholars program.

“One of the huge benefits of our tournaments is that a major proportion of net proceeds go to charity, and to local charities,” said Johnson. “It’s often lost on people. They see checks go to players but they don’t see how the PGA Tour is committed to impacting our communities, and that really resonates with us.”

Fans at the 2020 Northern Trust can expect to see top-level golfers such as Phil Mickelson.Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff file/Globe Staff

Northern Trust is a wealth and asset management and banking company geared toward companies, institutions, and affluent families, with an estimated $126.5 billion in assets.

TPC Boston has hosted PGA Tour events since 2003, with the event known as the Deutsche Bank Championship from 2003-16 and as the Dell Technologies Championship from 2017-18.

There was no tour stop in 2019 in Boston. The Northern Trust will rotate annually between TPC Boston and Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City.

Tyson said the New York-Boston rotation will work in everyone’s favor.


“I don’t know many people who want to share a fan base between New York and Boston, or can do it successfully,” said Tyson. “On the other side of that, though, this is almost an embarrassment of riches because New York and Boston, they’re very avid.

“It changes the entire tone and tenor of a golf event when their fans show up. It’s an electric, electric environment and these are two incredible postseason markets.”

The best comic moment of the session came from Kennedy, after star Red Sox Scholars product and current Red Sox Scholars program employee Lidia Zayas informed him in a short speech that she has always aspired to be CEO of the Red Sox.

“Given how 2019 went, you are, like, five minutes away,” said Kennedy.

Woods, who won at TPC Boston in 2006, said via a press release, “The crowds are incredible here, great sporting town. And a golf course I like. I’ve played well here over the years.”

McIlroy, who has won twice at TPC (2012 and 2016), said, “I think it’s one of the best-attended and best-supported events of the year. It’s always a good atmosphere and the guys like to play here.”

Besides Woods and McIlroy, Phil Mickleson, Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, and Rickie Fowler have won PGA Tour events at TPC Boston.

Michael Silverman can be reached at