My good friend Greg and his wife Mary Elizabeth live in Dallas so I checked with them to see if they knew anyone who was a member at Colonial. Turns out that M.E. has a friend who’s grandmother was a charter member at the club. Her friend very graciously volunteered her husband to take me out for a round of golf. After a couple of emails with my host Scott we lined up a weekend and hoped for good weather.
It was a little cooler than I had anticipated for Texas, but when I arrived at the airport I thought it felt like a nice fall day in Virginia, so I was perfectly happy with that. I drove from the airport to the club and met Scott at noon. As I drove in I was able to eyeball the course and get an idea of the topography. As one would expect for Texas, it was flat as can be.
Colonial Country Club is one of America’s great old clubs and is rich with history. It was the home course of Mr. Ben Hogan and is the annual host to the Crown Plaza Invitational. This is the longest running event on the PGA Tour still held at the original site. The tournament has been played here every year since 1946.
Mr. Hogans presence is felt all over the club. His office is set up in the clubhouse as well as a trophy room and museum. It was really cool to see his Claret Jug from his win at the British Open at Carnoustie in 1953. I can’t imagine navigating that difficult a course with the equipment used in those days. Truly a testament to the skill of bygone golfers. There is even a bronze statue of Mr. Hogan that sits at the top of the stairs that lead from the clubhouse down to the golf course.
After an exceptionally good club sandwich with homemade potato chips Scott and I headed out to the course. The course was not crowded at all which was great. We did have the distinct pleasure of having LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers playing the group behind us. Scott said that he sees celebrities out there fairly regularly. A lot of the PGA pros come in to play practice rounds before the tournament. Hunter Mahan had been there just a few weeks ago.
So we teed off on the par 5 first hole at 1:42. After the first 2 holes the real test comes. Holes number 3 through 5 are referred to as the “Horrible Horseshoe” or “Hogan’s Alley”. I can think of a couple other names for them, but this is a family oriented website so I will refrain. The 3rd hole is a 450 yard par 4 with a hard dogleg left, the 4th hole is a 205 yard par 3 that was playing 225 yards into the wind and the 5th hole is a 432 yard dogleg right. I bogeyed the 3rd, took what they would call an “other” on the PGA tour at the 4th and parred the 5th. I considered myself lucky to get through those 3 holes without completely botching my score for the day. They were pretty tough.
I didn’t take a lot of photos because it was a little overcast and as I’ve mentioned before, its difficult to remember to break the camera out when I’m focused on playing and enjoying the course. I really liked both of the par 3s on the back. The 13th hole reminded me a little bit of the 12th at Augusta in the way it plays. The green is wide and not very deep with a bank at the front that will roll you right down into the water if you are a little short. There is a photo of this hole below.
The 16th hole was the other par 3 and on this day they had the hole cut in the Sunday tournament location. It was at the back of a two tiered green and clear at the right hand side behind a bunker. I went for it anyway and missed right. I was able to putt my ball down the hill and onto the green leaving a 2 foot par putt . . . which I missed . . . arrgh!!! Below is a photo of the 16th.
Overall I liked Colonial. I must say that I agree with those who say that the two nines should be reversed for tournaments so that the horseshoe holes come into play on Sunday’s second nine holes of tournament play. The layout is a classic style layout that I like so much. There are a ton of really cool old live oak trees which give the course a great feel. I found myself in trouble at times, but the course was not so penal that I couldn’t fabricate a shot to get myself back in scoring position. It was a really fun course to play.
One last funny thing that I’ll mention is that this was the day of near misses. It started as Scott and I sat in the clubhouse having lunch and a ball struck the window not two feet from our table. Next, after we teed off on the 3rd, the first hole of the horseshoe, a ball came flying across our fairway from the 2nd tee box and landed about 10 yards from where I was walking. Someone in LaDainian Tomlinson’s group was quite a bit off target with that shot! Lastly as Scott and I were saying goodbye in the parking lot a ball hit from the tee of 16 came flying out into the parking lot and bounced about 10 yards from where we were standing!!! We wondered if that was from Mr. Tomlinson’s group as well. The whole thing was a little funny. I don’t think I’ve had that many near misses in a year before let alone a day!!! It’s always an adventure, that’s for sure!