Colonial in the rough without new sponsor

A course map at the Dean & Deluca Golf Tournament at the Colonial Country Club in 2017.
A course map at the Dean & Deluca Golf Tournament at the Colonial Country Club in 2017. Bob Booth

Even if golf isn’t your sport of choice, you probably know — if only because of the traffic it creates — that Fort Worth is home to one of the premier events on the PGA tour.

For seven decades, Colonial Country Club has hosted one of the PGA’s five annual invitationals.

Every year the event draws attention, crowds and celebrities, and helps infuse locals charities with millions of dollars in revenue.

It’s a hole-in-one, so to speak, for Cowtown.

But the Colonial’s success is largely dependent upon the financial backing of a title sponsor, and upscale grocery chain Dean & DeLuca — which has sponsored the event for the last two year s — is pulling out.

Star-Telegram reporter Mac Engel broke the news last week that Dean & DeLuca notified Colonial Country Club and the PGA Tour that it may be unable to meet its financial obligations for tournament sponsorship in 2018. The announcement comes after only two years of the company’s six-year sponsorship commitment to the event.

In the near term that means if Colonial is unable to find another sponsor in time for its event in May 2018, the host organization, i.e. its members, are responsible for paying the tournament purse.

That’s not a sustainable course for the country club.

To be fair, it wouldn’t be the first time the tournament was contested without sponsorship. In 1995, the Colonial National Invitation Tournament had no corporate sponsor, and its $1.5 million purse was covered by club members. But the prize has increased considerably since then, making it a significant financial hurdle in 2018.

Dean & DeLuca says it is still negotiating the terms of its contract, but Colonial isn’t wasting its time — it’s on the hunt for another sponsor.

Good. The club doesn’t have time to waste.

The Dean & DeLuca sponsorship was supposed to take the tournament through its 75th anniversary.

“For us to celebrate our 70th and, looking ahead, 75th anniversary with Dean & DeLuca means a lot to Colonial Country Club and the Fort Worth community,” said tournament chairman Bobby Patton in 2016 after the sponsorship was announced.

Since that no longer appears likely, Colonial will need to find a reliable partner that can.