This week on the venerable grounds of Colonial Country Club is a special week in many ways, highlighted in no small part by the Fort Worth Invitational.
When previous sponsor Dean & DeLuca backed out of its six-year deal to sponsor Fort Worth's annual PGA Tour event two years into the contract, four local companies (American Airlines, XTO Energy, BNSF and AT&T) stepped in to ensure that this year's tournament would remain on DFW's golf and social calendar.
The tournament features some serious star power that includes four of the top six players in the world, including Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler. Other luminaries in Fort Worth include reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, 2014 Colonial winner Adam Scott and defending champion Kevin Kisner.
But golf is only part of the fun of Colonial week in Fort Worth.
Scene at No. 13
The 13th hole at Colonial is the closest thing the PGA Tour in DFW has to the legendary 16th at TPC Scottsdale during the Phoenix Open. No. 13 is a 190-yard par-3 over water that has the feeling of an arena due to its being surrounded by skyboxes, suites and grandstands that are packed with many fans who are at Colonial as much for the party scene as the golf action.
No. 13 played as the second-hardest hole on the course on Friday afternoon, trailing the vaunted fifth hole in scoring.
During our visit to what is essentially known as "The Party Hole," there was a huge crowd gathered behind the grandstands that was oblivious to the fact that a mere few yards from where they were partaking in their alcoholic beverages, there were golfers competing for the first prize of $1.278 million. However, they would join in when the crowd cheered, although they didn't know who was on the green or why they were cheering in the first place.
Patio Club at No. 16
The Patio Club is inside the Colonial clubhouse and overlooks the No. 16 green and No. 17 tee box.
For this year's event, the covered patio deck has taken the vibe of a cruise ship with Celebrity Cruise Decks complete with a butler walking around with chilled face towels to help attendees combat the Texas heat and humidity.
The Patio Club entry costs a pretty penny, but the $275 ticket includes access to a full bar and a buffet and, perhaps most important, is the envy of all of your friends who are out in the heat and see that you have clubhouse access.
The ticket also includes access to another exclusive enclave, the Champions Club presented by Michelob Ultra, adjacent to the No. 9 fairway.
Fort Worth Invitational merchandise
This year's Fort Worth Invitational will be the only one with this name as Charles Schwab snapped up the rights to put its name on the event with a four-year deal that begins in 2019.
That being said, the merchandise sales are up over 50 percent from a year ago as Fort Worth golf fans clamor to buy shirts and hats with the classic Colonial clubhouse logo emblazoned across them.
Roughly 5,000 AHEAD brand hats were ordered for the tournament. That includes an additional 2,000 that were added after the original order began selling so fast that it was obvious more were needed.
The pro shop in the main clubhouse and the store down in the Colonial Main Street area near the practice putting green had hats and shirts as of Friday afternoon, but as Ken Barrett, a 45-year-old golf fan from Fort Worth, said, "These hats are going to be collector's items some day and I want to make sure that I have three or four in case I wear one out. I know if I wait until Sunday, the variety of options to choose from will be pretty slim."
Fort Worth on display
With no specific title sponsor having a logo draped across every piece of signage, the city of Fort Worth has been on display at the Fort Worth Invitational.
The barricade behind the No. 18 green that shields the locker room features photos of Sundance Square, Bass Hall, the Fort Worth Stockyards and the Water Gardens. While many fans will pose with the Ben Hogan statue on the way in to the tournament, a lot of fans are getting their pictures taken in front of these iconic Fort Worth images.
The Fort Worth Invitational continues through Sunday at Colonial Country Club.
For further details and tickets, visit fwinvitational.com.