Friday, March 30, 2012

Round #9: Texas - Colonial Country Club

Fate brought me to the Colonial Country Club on Friday morning. My original quest to play the #1 course in Texas was thwarted when the Dallas National Golf Club would only allow guests who are accompanied by a member. That possibility was not in the cards since I do not know any members. I went in search of an alternative in northern Texas landed at the Colonial in nearby Fort Worth. 

Round: #9
Location: Fort Worth, TX
Golf Digest Best-In-State Rank: #4
Date: 16 Mar, tee off at 9:50 AM
Conditions: partly sunny, 12 MPH wind, 70 degrees
Yardage: 6,837
Lost balls: 0
Score: 85 on a par 70
Colonial Country Club was started in 1936 by Marvin Leonard, who had a keen interest in bringing bent grass greens to his hometown of Fort Worth. When his initial plans to install bent grass at an existing Fort Worth golf club failed, Leonard came up with his vision for the Colonial Golf Club. The vision became a reality in January 1936 when the club opened with approximately 100 members.
The Colonial is ranked #73 on Golf Digest’s list of the 100 greatest American golf courses. It has hosted PGA tournaments every year since 1946, making it the longest running PGA venue. The most noteworthy winner of Colonial’s tournament is the the late Ben Hogan, a person who’s name is synonymous with golf. The Fort Worth resident won it five times, earning Colonial the nickname "Hogan's Alley."  Inside the pro shop is an office filled with Ben Hogan artifacts memorializing his connection with the club.

Winners of past PGA events at Colonial: a "who's who" of legendary golf champions

Before Tiger Woods, before Arnold Palmer - Ben Hogan was the man to beat

Ben Hogan's office at Colonial Country Club

The practice range was empty when I showed up at 9:15 - - - it looked like I would be playing by myself for the third time in a row. After warming up, my arrival at the starter’s station was met by a member who jokingly asked if I had jumped the fence to get into the club. That was a a great start to a round of golf heightened by the companionship of two Colonial members: Glenn (the jokester) and Jim. When they are not playing golf, Glen owns a petroleum engineering firm and Jim is the owner of a men’s clothing store.

Jim & Glenn

The layout of Colonial was flat in comparison to many other course. A lack of changing elevations did not translate into “easy” golf. At 247 yards from the black tees, the 4th hole is the longest par 3 hole on the PGA tour. It has never had an ace (hole-in-one) recorded during tournament play. The 5th hole running along the Trinity River is regularly ranked among the most difficult holes in annual golf surveys.

555-yard par 5 hole #1 (view from approach shot from the fairway) 

468-yard par 4 hole #3 

 468-yard par 4 hole #5 (view from approach shot from the fairway)

181-yard par 3 hole #8 

383-yard par 4 hole #9 (view of approach shot over the bunkers and water hazard)

I played well on the front nine carding a 41. A higher score on the back nine resulted from a lack of concentration on my part since the back nine was equally challenging.

417-yard par 4 hole #12 (view of approach shot from the fairway) 

171-yard par 3 hole #13 

405-yard par 4 hole #18 (view of approach shot from the fairway)

The staff and members at Colonial provided me with a first class experience. Glenn even provided me with a copy of the book “Billy Boy” by Bud Shrake as a parting gift. He did succeed in taking $6 each off of Jim and me in a skins game; it was fun watching him drop in several birdie putts during the round.  

Travel to Texas

Our trip out of Louisiana to Fort Worth had a few interesting stops. Julie suggested stopping at a quilt shop in Alexandria that was on our route. We arrived too late - the shop had closed up 2-days earlier. I can only imagine the “Going out of Business” sales that Julie missed out on!

A “Cajun Trade” gift shop beckoned us to stop in Marksville. I think the decorative signs caught Julie’s eye. Where else can you find colored swirls, camo gloves, and plastic alligators adorning a store’s entrance?

Shopping in Marksville, MS

Cajun shopping at it's best!

Troy Landry and Bruce Mitchell from the “Swamp People” show live in the vicinity; their autographed pictures were for sale inside the store. I passed on the autographed pictures, but a few other items did provide a great opportunity to score early Christmas presents for the females in my family.

It was hard to pick just the right Christmas present!

A Yelp review lead us to one last stop in Shreveport for lunch. Herby K’s provided great atmosphere and food that was over-rated in the Yelp reviews. We sat on the patio where, I could not recall previously dining within 10-feet of a bathtub - - - luckily it’s intended purpose was not being served. You would expect to see a bar in Louisiana with New Orleans Saints and Louisiana State University memorabilia on the walls; it was surprising to see Iowa State Cyclones and Oklahoma State Sooners pennant flags hanging in the rafters. When the patio discussion turned to the subject of great hamburgers, we learned that our waitress considered the peanut butter & bacon hamburger she ate in New Orleans as the #1 choice on her list. It is always nice to find new ways to enjoy Skippy peanut butter! 

 Getting off the beaten path for lunch at Herby-K's

I know where you can find an antique claw-foot bathtub!

The Yelp review also warned us not to visit the rest rooms without a companion. Apparently the outside rest rooms are not well lit at night!

Just outside around the corner behind a red door - you can't miss it!

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