Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The Colonial - Preview
This week the PGA Tour concludes it's Texas Swing with it's Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, or "The Colonial" for short. No offense to the fine sponsors from Crowne Plaza, I give them props for keeping the name Colonial in the official title, but when a tournament has been around as long as The Colonial has it takes more than a sponsor to change the vernacular. Few events on tour have as much history as The Colonial, and the tournament is a living testament to the fact that it's quite possible for a good old tournament to not only survive but to prosper, to be successful, and to attract a world class field. You don't have to play on some new-fangled course with the letters TPC in it. You don't have to have a Greek urn as a trophy and call yourself World something or another. And you don't have to trick out your course to put the cut line at a handful of shots above par. Look at The Colonial, and you can see that you can get it done by being respectful of the past heroes and appreciative of the current heroes, and by putting in front of them a golf course which has been liked by professional golfers for decades. HISTORY The tournament has been played at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, TX since 1946. Only The Masters has been played longer on the same venue. The event has it's origins in the 1941 US Open, which was played on the course and which was very well received, and the Invitational tournament was launched shortly thereafter. The connection between the tournament and hometown hero Ben Hogan was established before the event even became official, as Hogan considered the Colonial CC to be his home course. Hogan won the first two tournaments held, and three more subsequently. In the history of golf few golfers have dominated an event the way Ben did at "Hogan's Alley". Other winners through the years includes Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, Kenny Perry, and in 2009 Steve Stricker. Only Hogan has won the event more than twice. THE COURSE The Colonial CC was founded in 1936 in part as an argicultural experiment with bentgrass greens in the Metroplex area. Attempts to lay them at an existing course failed, so Marvin Leonard contracted John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell to design Colonial. The course plays to 7,054 yards and a par of 70. It's known as a shot-maker's course where distance isn't always rewarded, but it's generally very well liked by all types of players. The hardest hole is #5, a beast of a par 4 at 481 yards, and the last in a series of holes known as "The horseshoe" that are generally thought to be the most difficult stretch on the course. The average score over the past 25 years on this hole is 4.259. THIS YEAR'S EVENT In 2010 the tournament has drawn an elite field which includes Five of the top ten in the world rankings, and six of the top ten money and FedEx Cup point earners for the season. In addition, the last five major winners and 15 of the 22 winners this year are in the field. Put names like Mickelson, Stricker, Furyk, Poulter, Casey, Clark, Johnson, Kuchar, and Crane on a leaderboard; make them play a fair traditional layout in warm Texas weather, and it's bound to be a treat for golf-fans everywhere. Watch for the "Pink Out" on Saturday, when fans (and players) wear pink to honor the battle against breast cancer. This young tradition was started last year to honor Amy Mickelson's battle, as Phil had to pull out of the event.