CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Bubba Watson's family arrived at its hotel in Connecticut to find that organizers of the Travelers Championship had left two gift packages, one for his wife and another for 2-year-old son Caleb.
"He got a little spaceship, but he thought it was an airplane, so he thought it was the greatest thing in the world," Watson said Tuesday. "When the tournament does little things like that, it makes it special for us."
The gifts are part of a carefully designed recruiting package targeting the families and caddies of PGA Tour players. The idea, said tournament director Nathan Grube, is to make the tournament an attractive destination for them, and therefore more attractive to the players, who might otherwise want to take a break the week after the U.S. Open.
This year, four of the top-ranked players in the world (No. 3 Watson, No. 5 Matt Kuchar, No. 7 Jason Day, and No. 8 Sergio Garcia) and 16 of the top 50 decided to play in Cromwell.
Dozens of them, along with family members and caddies, arrived Sunday aboard a free charter the tournament has run from the U.S. Open since Travelers took over the sponsorship of the Connecticut event in 2007.
Once they are here, the caddies receive wind jackets, free dry cleaning all week, and a party in their honor. The players' wives get a beach bag filled with wine and chocolate and a spa day in West Hartford.
The families also are offered free outings to attractions such as ESPN in Bristol, the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford.
"There were a lot of little things that we did that started adding up to the players," said Nathan Grube, the tournament's director. "I call it relationship building."
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