Colonial loses large oak tree at No. 13 party hole after storm

Officials at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial lost a large oak tree that shaded fans at the 13th green, the tournament’s popular party hole, during a recent storm, Colonial club president Chuck Scherer confirmed Thursday.

Scherer said club officials estimate the tree, damaged in a July 14 storm, was taller than 40 feet and roughly 200 years old. They also know it will be missed during next year’s tournament, scheduled May 18-24, 2015.

“It will be a shock to the fans. That was the biggest oak tree that shaded all the spectators in the stands,” Scherer said. “We had 60 mph, straight-line winds blow through the course and lost several trees. But that was the main one. It won’t affect play as much as it will the crowd, because it was a real crowd pleaser.”

The top of the tree, containing lots of heavy branches, was severed off the stump by high winds. Scherer said club officials measured the remaining stump, which included no branches, at 19 feet before they began to remove debris.

Scherer said a “good tree” at No. 8 also fell victim to the storm but the big shade tree at No. 13 will be the one fans will miss most. Scherer also said he will join Bobby Patton, Colonial tournament chairman, at a Tuesday meeting in Los Angeles with representatives from Crowne Plaza in efforts to extend the hotel chain’s agreement as title sponsor of Fort Worth’s annual PGA Tour stop.

Crowne Plaza’s agreement expires after next year’s event and Colonial officials are hoping to secure a three-year extension, Scherer said. Crowne Plaza has been the tournament title sponsor since 2007.