While the snow melted outside on Colonial Country Club’s dormant fairways Thursday evening, the bubbly flowed in the hallowed clubhouse to honor Texas golf royalty.
Two-time Colonial champion and professional golf icon Ben Crenshaw was honored as the eighth recipient of the club’s Distinguished Sportsman Award. The honoree is selected by committee of Colonial members for their impact on the game of golf.
Past honorees include Crenshaw’s mentor Harvey Penick, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Gary Player and Lee Trevino.
“I’m so honored,” Crenshaw, age 63, said before addressing the gathering. “I kind of feel about this place like I do Augusta National Golf Club. I have so many memories here not a lot of folks realize I played my first Colonial tournament here in 1970 as an amateur.”
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Crenshaw, who will make his final start as a past champion in The Masters next month, isn’t sullen about that part of his career coming to a close.
In fact, the Austin resident and former University of Texas standout said he’s quite satisfied with the great memories.
“When I look back I just have so many great ones of shots that I hit in tournaments,” Crenshaw said. “In ’77 when I won here, I shot 31 on the back nine and I got away with murder. It was not your typical 31, I had almost seemingly every break you could get.
“I pulled my tee shot darn near close to going in the creek on 15, pulled my approach shot too and that stopped about 5 feet from going in the water. I got up down after that, but I had to get up and down three times that were just very difficult.”
Crenshaw’s Colonial career was quite robust, winning the tournament twice in 1977 and 1990, to go along with 17 other victories as a professional.
While a historian of the game, Crenshaw also stepped into the golf course design business and has developed over two dozen thus far with more on the way.
Crenshaw said he had fond memories of not just Colonial but Fort Worth as well.
“I always heard people talk about it as a kid growing up and I saw real quickly what this place was all about the day I walked up,” Crenshaw said. “The people in this town could not be any more cordial to us.”