By Rick Press
Golf is a game that requires intense focus, especially at the PGA level.
But anybody who has attended the first few days of the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial and only paid attention to the golf, well, you’ve been missing plenty.
Here are snapshots of the scene at Fort Worth’s favorite garden party.
Keeping the Spieth
Dallas native and 2016 Colonial champion Jordan Spieth is the No. 30 ranked player in the world, but he is the No. 1 draw at this year’s tournament. His galleries have been huge, and his fans just can’t seem to get enough of him. One teenage girl we met, in fact, had about 20 Jordans on her collage T-shirt.
The $25 tee is made by Subliworks, which also sells Spieth collage tank tops, sweatshirts and pillow cases. Hurry and you can cash in on the 20% off Memorial Day special.
A close second to Spieth in the Colonial popularity contest is Ryan Palmer, a member at the club. “Palmer’s Posse” was decked out in bright orange shirts to show their support for the Texan and the charitable work of his Ryan Palmer Foundation. Palmer loves the support, but not necessarily the chosen color for this year’s T-shirts, according to one of his fans. That orange is a little too burnt for the Texas A&M Aggie’s taste.
Hot rods and heavy hitters
This year’s new sponsor Charles Schwab (yes, he’s a real guy!) wanted to give the 2019 champ something more than just a plaid jacket, a giant trophy and a $1.314 million check. So he hired Steve Strobe of Handmaid HotRods fame to completely restore a 1973 Dodge Challenger to celebrate the year Schwab’s investment company was founded. The powder blue hot rod is on display near the 10th tee.
A security guard shared some of the backstory of the sweet ride. It is worth about $350,000 and boasts 500 horsepower. Apparently, Schwab called Richard Rawlings’ Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas first, but nobody answered so Schwab persuaded Strobe to shut down his Pure Vision garage in California and work exclusively on the Challenger to get it finished in time for the tournament. It took him three months. On Sunday, the winner’s name will be engraved on a metal plaque just above the Challenger’s gearshift.
Grand new stands
The fan seating areas around the course have been mercifully upgraded, replacing butt-wrenching bleachers with plastic chairs with backs. The tournament organizers also added raised platforms behind those grandstands so fans can enjoy better sight lines of the 1st, 8th, 9th and 12th tees.
The Champions Club view has also improved, with a look over the 10th fairway back toward the 18th green and famous Colonial clubhouse. But the best new hangout on the course is the Ultra Club featuring B&B Butchers & Restaurant and Topgolf. It doesn’t require an upgraded badge, and the food is from the Houston steakhouse that recently opened in the nearby Shops at Clearfork. The Coach Patterson burger has been a big hit. No word on whether anyone ordered the $160 Katsu Sando with certified Japanese Waygu ribeye.
Who wouldn’t want a Ben Hogan bobblehead?
Ben Hogan has finally been immortalized in bobblehead form, and you can own the limited edition souvenir for just a $10 donation to the First Tee of Fort Worth. The tournament ordered 6,000 Ben bobbleheads, and planned to sell them while supplies lasted. As of Saturday afternoon, there were still plenty available. So what are you waiting for?
Tee off at the Party Hole
Fans lined up four deep at the 13th Hole Challenge, a simulator that lets you take a swing at the famous par-3 party hole. For anyone who has watched the tournament and said to themselves, “I bet I could birdie that hole,” here’s a chance to put your money where your mouth is. We watched some tee shots while enjoying the air conditioning in the fan experience area, and while a few people landed on the green, there were way more kerplunks in the pond.
Rickie Fowler and his pineapple hat hung around
Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffle and Rickie Fowler were the biggest names to miss the cut this week. Fowler had made 22 straight weekends, but he decided to hang around Funkytown anyway. He was spotted on the driving range at noon Saturday, and, as always, Rickie drew a crowd.
Or maybe it was his Pineapple Puma hat.
‘By the Numbers’ speaks to golf geeks
Another terrific addition to the tournament this year has been the “By the Numbers” signs near each tee. At the par-4 fifth hole, for instance, we get a glimpse of the misery: players only hit the fairway 47% of the time; greens in regulation 45%; and the average score is 4.291. No. 5 is the most difficult hole on the course and a big reason holes 3 through 5 are called The Horrible Horseshoe.
Overheard at Colonial
“This is like The Masters,” one friend says to another. “Yeah, the Masters of Fort Worth!”