The Tour is at Colonial this week for the 72nd Ft. Worth Invitational:
This season the tournament does not have a lead sponsor which was putting the tournament's future in doubt. However, next season it will be sponsored by Charles Schwab.
The tournament also has the unique Champion's Choice Tradition where last year's champion is allowed to select two, young and up and coming players to participate in the event that they are typically not qualified to play in.
The event is known as Ben Hogan's tournament as Hogan was a long time member at Colonial. The course itself fits along the lines of Hogan's game with difficult tee shots that require ultimate precision and a lot of difficult approach shots.
Colonial was designed in 1936 by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell. The course was created by Marvin Leonard who was obsessed with having smooth rolling, bentgrass greens in Texas. Redstick Country Club in Vero Beach tried to get bentgrass greens but it was nearly impossible for them to maintain. Ft. Worth is probably a little more reasonable as the humidity in Florida doesn't jive well with bentgrass. But in reality, today's bermuda grass strains roll pretty much as well as bentgrass greens.
The difference with bentgrass is that it does not take a lot of resources and does not require perfect weather to get excellent putting complexes. Growing up on bentgrass greens, you would be surprised how many rinky-dink clubs with a small crew working on the greens can produce world class putting greens. In fact, the best greens I've ever putted on were at small Wellsville Country Club in Wellsville, NY.
Bermuda requires a lot of resources and time to sustain the greens. In Florida, the bigger courses have a distinct advantage in their greens upkeep during the spring. But, come summer that advantage minute as everybody is struggling to keep up their greens and some courses just happen to get a break with the weather conditions over others.
Where I tell golfers that are used to playing on bentgrass and are going to bermuda to get used to is the rough. Particularly around the greens. Last year when I went back home to play on bentgrass for the first time in nearly 15 years...I was shocked by how much softer I had to hit the ball from the bentgrass rough.
The other big difference is bermuda greens need to be replaced every 12-15 years. They just don't hold up well after that.
Here's my thoughts on different bermuda green strains:
TifEagle - my preferred choice. Extremely durable and can still run very smooth with a lot of foot traffic. However, best to keep the stimps under 11 and struggles to maintain on 'sunken' green complexes.
UltraDwarf - works better at faster stimps than TifEagle, but needs constant maintenance and doesn't handle traffic nearly as well.
Championship Bermuda - When well kept, the best greens of the bunch and closest to bentgrass. Usually takes approach shots well and it can be difficult to find the pitch mark. Can easily run to 13 stimp. But, it's very expensive and required a lot of care and doesn't work that great with heavy foot traffic.
Miniverde - excellent strain that tends to look a little more grainy, but still rolls quite smooth. Plays more in between TifEagle and Championship Bermuda.
Anyway, most of the pros on Tour like Colonial. Those that avoid playing here tend to do so because the course doesn't fit their game instead of avoiding it because they don't like the design. This is very much a course about driving accuracy and long approach shots. The 18th hole is the final critical hole on the course.
Projected Winning Score: -12
Jordan Spieth +900
Jon Rahm +1,400
Justin Rose +1,800
Xander Schauffele +4,000
3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS
Beau Hossler +5,500
Brian Harman +6,600
Chris Kirk +6,600
Chez Reavie +8,000
Andrew Landry +10,000
Kevin Streelman +10,000