Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial — George Washington Never Played Golf

Having nothing to do with Colonial America, Colonial Country Club is host this week to the Crowne Plaza Invitational! Learn everything you didn’t want to know about the tournament below!

About the Sponsor

Crowne Plaza. The name itself is enough to elicit a feeling of hoity-toity-ness, for lack of a better phrase. It must have a long, rich history and I’ll need to be careful about what I mention in this section so I don’t cheat a fantastic brand out of well deserved promotion.

Well first, I thought about talking about the long and storied history of Crowne Plaza like so many of the other Tour event sponsors have. But the Crowne Plaza brand was spun off from the Holiday Inn brand in 1983. Not exactly a dinosaur of a company.

Then I thought about talking about the parent company that owns the Crowne Plaza brand, InterContinental Hotels Group. But there isn’t really much to say about that because it’s just a bunch of Holiday Inns.

Then I thought about noting how Crowne Plaza has 392 hotels globally in 52 countries with 108,307 rooms. But those stats are meaningless and probably outdated (since they’re from 2013). Nothing worse than meaningless and outdated facts.

Then I thought about mentioning how they sponsor the T1 most overrated player on tour, Rickie Fowler. But that’s dull and not directly related to the Crowne Plaza brand.

So I’ll just leave this by saying Crowne Plaza is a hotel brand, and a vanilla one at that.

About the Tournament

Unlike the rather bleak history of the sponsor, The Colonial has a rich history dating back to Ben Hogan, who won the tournament 5 times back in the day. It’s also the longest running non-major (aka not the Masters) event on the PGA Tour held at the same venue.

Similar to the RBC Heritage that we mentioned it its preview, the Colonial has “invitational” status on tour. This means a limited field of 125 players, filled by tour winners, highly ranked non-winners, and sponsor exemptions. Actually, in another similarity to the Heritage, the winner also gets tartan plaid jacket! Also, totally having a realization here, remember that pic of Boo from the Heritage preview? That was actually Boo winning at Colonial. In order to even out the misinformation, I’m going to include a pic of Boo winning the Heritage here.

Boo loves winning tartan jackets.

Boo loves winning tartan jackets.

With a lengthy history, and limited field invitational status, what can we expect for the strength of the field? The tournament’s website has a section where it lists the field and claims that, “Our field for the 2015 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is taking shape. As always, it is sure to be one of the best fields on Tour.” Let’s see if that’s the case.

A scheduling conflict with The BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour takes away all the Euros who play at least a part of their schedule stateside. Played in England, the BMW is the biggest non-major that’s apart of the European Tour schedule, so any self respecting Euro is going to be playing in Wentworth this week.

Even without the Euros, The Crowne Plaza should have a fantastic field. According to the tournament website, Jordan Spieth, Boo Weekley, Ryan Palmer, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner, and Harris English are the headliners. Wait what? Those are the headliners? Spieth and Scott are big draws, but the rest of those guys… not so much. But then again, the players they list specially on the front page aren’t necessarily the ones playing the best currently, they’re the ones a casual fan who might want to go to the tournament would know. Dufner, Johnson, and Palmer (a local) all fit that build, even if they aren’t favorites to win.

There are still a long list of new breakout stars like Ben Martin, Kevin Kisner, and John Peterson. All going to be much better known in the near future, and I’m sure I’m missing other new names who are going to start winning soon.

So back to the tournament’s claim of having “…one of the best fields on Tour”. The answer to that is no. There are plenty of non-major fields on Tour that are better. But, and I’m assuming you like golf since you’re reading this, there are plenty of other names that make watching the coverage worthwhile.

About the Course

Located in Fort Worth, TX, “Colonial Country Club was founded in 1936 by Marvin Leonard chiefly out of a desire to introduce Bentgrass greens to the area”. That has to be one of the best reasons I’ve ever heard to build a golf course. None of this “I just wanted to bring championship golf to the people” garbage that I hear a lot. And plus, bentgrass is totally worth building a brand new golf course for.

Thanks to some pimping by the the founder, Marvin Leonard, Colonial Country Club hosted the 1941 US Open. The tipping point for landing the event was when Leonard guaranteed 25 grand for the tournament. If 25 grand was all it took to get the US Open to a course these days, I’d spend 50 grand and put it at the dinky little 9 hole course near me. These days, with the amount of coverage and it gets, you’d have to bribe the USGA guys quite a bit to host it on a course you built. But I’ll save the economics of the US Open for another preview.

Going back to the tournament’s website again, the 13 hole “… has become one of the most famous holes on the PGA TOUR”. Sorry Colonial, gonna have to disagree with you again on that one since I had no idea what any hole on your course looked like before right now.

13th hole. Hey look! Water!

13th hole. Hey look! Water!

I’ll play along for a second. The 13th is a par three with a pond. So it’s got some drama. It’s also got “concession stands, shopping, and restrooms nearby”. Hmm this is starting to sound like a normal hole with special things for a spectator. And it’s also got the Ketel One Club! Complete with an air conditioned tent and booze! It’s like their own attempt at recreating the 16 at TPC Scottsdale. It’s not the hole that’s unique (since there are a bunch of par 3s with water) it’s the atmosphere. I see you Colonial.

Last Year

When I was riding my dinky little mountain bike home from work today, I realized that I’ve been forgetting this section in the previews for the past few weeks. How unprofessional.

Last year at the Cowne Plaza Invitational, Adam Scott birdied the 3rd playoff hole to beat the then large Jason Dufner and capture the title. In the useless stat category, Scott then became the first player to have won every PGA Tour event played in Texas at some point in his career. The others being Shell, Valero, and next week’s Byron Nelson.

What to Watch For

Young Names — I mentioned this when I talked about the field, but watch for the new names that have been doing well recently. There are a ton of guys racking up top 10s but not being able to close the deal. This week is as good as any for one of them to break through with a W. Oh, and what about a Patrick Rodgers who finished T2 last week after sponsor’s exemption. Pretty sure he’s a young name to watch.

The Par 3 13th! — Clearly the tournament is trying to push that hole as the “signature” hole for the tournament. Curious to see how much that hole is featured in the coverage leading up to the event, and on Thursday and Friday. The Golf Channel loves picking out a hole and talking about how “special” it is. I’ll give Colonial CC credit though, for not trying to name a stretch of holes on the course like we saw last week and pretty much every week on tour. I’ll give you that courses need something special for the casual viewer to remember anything about it. So maybe just picking a random hole and creating a party environment around it is the way to go.

The Horrible Horseshoe — Ugh did I just say I gave the course credit for not having a named stretch of holes. Well turns out I was wrong. I’ll just leave a link to this video for you to watch since I can’t bear to comment on another one of those made up stretches.

Ben Hogan references — Did I forget to mention that the course is nicknamed “Hogan’s Alley”. Just re-read what I wrote, and yup, didn’t put that in when I said he won the event 5 times. Colonial CC was also Hogan’s home course in retirement, and the clubhouse has a room dedicated to Hogan memorabilia. Expect the media to milk the Hogan storyline til it’s dry, even more than when the US Open was brought back to Merion a few years ago.

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