Watch Conn. Police Stop Climate Protesters Disrupting PGA Golf Tournament

June 24, 2024
Organizers commended Cromwell police officers for their "quick and decisive action" in apprehending climate protesters who interrupted the final round of the Travelers Championship.

By Paul Doyle

Source The Middletown Press, Conn.

CROMWELL, CT — It was the most compelling sequence of the Travelers Championship, the tournament leaders vying for the title on the iconic 18th hole at TPC River Highlands.

But before eventual winner Scottie Scheffler could attempt a putt late Sunday afternoon, the tension was the punctured when climate protesters ran onto the green and dropped colored powder. The delay was brief as police officers apprehended the protesters, who were from the international climate activist group Extinction Rebellion.

How did the protesters have such seamless access to the field of play?

That's partly a product of the sport. Golf, even at the highest level, offers on-site fans an opportunity to move mostly unfettered around the green. There is a rope and security — from police to tournament security — but the sport promotes the connection between players and fans.

"It's the beauty of our sport," Travelers Championship tournament director Nathan Grube said. "It's what makes golf different."

And seemingly vulnerable to an incident such as the one that unfolded at about 4 p.m. Sunday. The 18th hole amphitheater at River Highlands is one of the great settings in the sport, with fans flooding the greenside dozens deep.

The six protesters apparently moved undetected through the crowd before running to the green from various angles. The names of those apprehended were released by Cromwell Police Sunday. The six protester are scheduled to appear in Middletown Superior Court on July, 1.

The PGA Tour issued a statement saying there was no damage to the green while thanking the police for "quick and decisive action."

The tournament's statement on the incident?

"There literally is an ongoing investigation," Grube told CT Insider earlier on Sunday. "We're working with Cromwell PD. ... So I've got to be limited with what I say."

Grube also commended the Cromwell Police, which works closely with the tournament each summer. There were officers from nearby towns, including Wethersfield, Rocky Hill and Newington.

But he also said he and his staff will evaluate the incident, just the way they evaluate the tournament's reaction to rain or excessive heat. Grube said he and Travelers executive Andy Bessette drive a golf cart through the course each year during the second and third round to evaluate every facet of the event while fans are engaging — from concession lines to the flow of the fans to the bathrooms.

"It's the only time we can actually see what you built and how it's working," he said. "Like we can have all these plans ... But when you actually pour all the people at it, and you're like, oh, I didn't see that coming."

Such as a protest on the 18th hole. So on Monday when Grube opens his 2025 folder, the Extinction Rebellion protest will be the latest addition.

"We're going to learn from everything this year ... whatever it was, we're going to learn from it and we're going to continue to evolve because we have to continue to change," Grube said.

The climate activist group, which disrupted a Broadway show in March, also targeted a golf tournament in the Netherlands Sunday when it staged a protest at the KLM Open by blocking the entrance to the International Golf Club, forcing the tournament to delay the start of the final round by two hours.

In Cromwell, protesters entered the grounds and waited until there were maximum eyeballs on the event — at River Highland and on CBS.

It's unclear what the powdered substance was and whether the protesters entered through security gates. The Travelers has instituted a strict bag policy this year based on the PGA Tour's policy. Fans are only allowed to bring small bags into the tournament and fans pass through metal detectors at entrances.

Could the tournament evaluate the point-of-entry security in light of the protest?

"If you were to look at our security protocol, handbook, system, gate program 10 years ago versus what it is now, you wouldn't even recognize it," Grube said. "You look at it from wanding to our vendors ... I mean, we have more of a coordinated effort this year between Cromwell PD, state police, FBI, National Guard ... there is more coordination with those agencies than I've ever seen in my life, to prepare. What are we hearing out there? If something happens, how we're going to respond? Stuff like that.

"It's a different world. It's a different world. And I feel like we continue to evolve to be as ready as we can be for this."


(c)2024 The Middletown Press, Conn.

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