When legendary golfer Ben Hogan won the first two PGA tournaments at Colonial Country Club, few could have thought that it would develop into the event that it has 70 years later. Today, the Colonial pays a purse of $6.7 million, $200,000 more than last year, and has helped generate $80 million for charity over the past 20 years.
The DEAN & DELUCA Invitational has become what tournament Director Michael Tothe calls “an integral piece of the fabric of the Fort Worth community,” comparable to a TCU home football game and the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.
It all started with Hogan, who is honored with his own museum at the club he considered his home course. After winning in 1946 and 1947 and then again with wins in 1952 and 1953, Hogan won the young event for a fifth and final time in 1959.
Ben Hogan, 1953 PGA TOUR
Since Hogan’s dominant play, many of golf’s superstars have donned the Scottish tartan plaid jacket, including Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson and, most recently, Hogan Award winner Chris Kirk.
Much of the tournament’s appeal, Tothe said, is that it has been played every year at the same venue – Colonial Country Club. The club, which dates to 1936, was designed along the Trinity River by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell for Marvin Leonard, who introduced Bentgrass greens to the Southwest.
Leonard’s dream was to put his club on golf’s national map. He persuaded the United States Golf Association to bring the U.S. Open to Colonial by guaranteeing the association $25,000. The 1941 Open was held in Fort Worth, the first time the prestigious tournament was played south of the Mason-Dixon line. Capitalizing on that success, local organizers launched The Colonial Invitational five years later.
The tournament broke new ground again in 2003, when Annika Sorenstam played the Invitational and became the first woman to play a PGA TOUR event since Babe Zaharias entered the Los Angeles Open.
Clubhouse, Colonial Country Club
The Colonial had no title sponsor until 1988, something Tothe said would be impossible today considering the size of purses, and operational elements to conduct a world-class event on the PGA TOUR.
DEAN & DELUCA, an international brand of fine foods with plans to expand into Texas, approached the PGA last fall. When the Colonial sponsorship became available, it considered the Fort Worth tournament a great opportunity. The six-year agreement runs through the 2021 tournament.
“The partnership with DEAN & DELUCA is very exciting given their expansion plans in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and key PGA TOUR locations across the country,” tournament Chairman Bobby Patton said. “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.”
Official tartan jackets of Colonial champions
In the first year, the company and its sports agency already will offer fans food-related events during the tournament week. “It is very exciting,” Tothe said of the new title sponsor. “They are great to work with.”
Read our complete tribute to the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational: click here
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