When the Star-Telegram reported last year that gourmet grocery store chain Dean and DeLuca would not be able to fulfill its sponsorship of the Colonial Country Club's storied stop on the PGA tour, we were worried.
Canceling the Colonial would have meant millions in lost revenue for local charities (a record $13 million last year) and the city. Past studies have shown the historic golf tournament to have a $47 million impact on the Fort Worth economy.
That's not chump change. Not to mention that the Colonial is the longest-running PGA tour event still conducted at its original host site. It's demise would have been a significant blow to Cowtown's pride at a time when the city is feeling a bit like the red-headed step-child of North Texas.
Fort Worth leaders were worried, too, and they sprang into action. Thanks to the efforts of government officials, club members and members of the business community, the Colonial secured the financial support needed to keep the event on the PGA calendar.
Who said golf isn't a team sport?
Tournament officials announced this week that four local companies have signed on to provide a portion of the $11.5 million in financial backing needed to run this year's event: American Airlines, AT&T, Exxon subsidiary XTO Energy Inc., and Burlington Northern Santa Fe. The tournament will be played May 21-27 under a fitting new name, The Fort Worth Invitational .
All of this is good news. But what happens next year? This year's corporate sponsors have pledged their support as a one-time arrangement only.
To meet the PGA's deadlines, the club and other interested parties will have to work fast. That may require some creativity and flexibility, like moving the tour dates or securing the long-time financial support of multiple corporate backers, and the continued support of the city and business community.
In a press release announcing the tournament's name change, Tournament Chairman Rob Hood seemed optimistic: "As we look to 2019 and beyond, we will continue to work with the PGA TOUR in securing a title sponsor to ensure the event will be a part of the PGA TOUR schedule for many years to come,” he said.
Community leaders need to send a message that the Colonial is here to stay and has long-term financial support.
Title sponsorships don't grow on trees — not even the tall, majestic ones lining the Colonial greens.