There is no rest for the weary even after one of the most memorable major championships any of us will see in our lifetime. Heck, even Phil Mickelson is set to tee it up again this week as he said he will stay in the field for the Charles Schwab Challenge before taking a couple of weeks off to prep for the U.S. Open.
Lefty is one of the big names in what turns out to be a pretty strong field, especially considering it falls right after a major. Six of the top-20 players in the world will tee it up this week at Colonial Country Club including World No. 2 Justin Thomas and fifth-ranked Collin Morikawa who lost in a playoff at this event last year. Daniel Berger was the player that defeated Morikawa on that first playoff hole, and he will look to defend that title this week. Texas native Jordan Spieth opened the week as the top man on the sportsbook odds and was the 2016 winner of this tournament back when it was known as the Fort Worth Invitational.
This week the TOUR heads west to Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge. Colonial is the longest standing TOUR stop, even as the tournament name and sponsor has changed, the host course has remained the same for all but two years dating back to 1946. Last year, it was the first stop following the COVID break, attracting a top-notch field, which appears to have carried over to 2021. Here’s how the historic track lays out.
Colonial Country Club – Fort Worth, Texas
7,209 yard Par 70
- Two Par 5s (565/635), Four Par 3s (190/192/199/247), 12 Par 4s (387/389/406/407/408/430/440/441/445/464/481/483)
- Average green size 5,000 square feet (small by TOUR standards)
- Bentgrass greens
- 84 sand bunkers
- Four water hazards in play on six holes
- Bermudagrass leading up to the putting surface, with 3″ bermuda mix rough
Colonial Country Club provides a gentle handshake out of the gates as players will be met with the two easiest holes on the course at holes one and two. The Par 5 1st is just 565 yards and typically plays as the easiest hole of the tournament. Players will need to start their round on the front nine with a birdie or better as this hole yields birdie 44% of the time and eagle an additional 2%. After a hopeful under-par start at the first, players turn to the short 387 yard Par 4 2nd, which has historically played as the second easiest hole. Players have birdied here nearly 27% of the time, which will leave some players falling behind if they aren’t two under after two this week.
While the first couple are a nice easy start, Colonial Country Club punches back at holes 3-5, nicknamed the Horrible Horseshoe. These are three of the four hardest holes on the course, and all have historically played over par during the tournament. The 3rd and 5th holes are lengthy Par 4s, which require precision off the tee to both find the fairway and have a clear approach to the green. The dogleg left on hole 3 is protected by three bunkers and a large tree that make it more advantageous to take positioning off the tee and a long approach rather than to bomb it.
The 4th is the hardest of the four Par 3s and this year it is listed on the scorecard at 247 yards to an elevated green. Birdies will be tough to come by, and there hasn’t been a single hole in one at the 4th in the history of the event. Bogeys are more than twice as common on this long Par 3 as they come in at more than a 20% clip. Any par will be a good one through four days around this hole.
The final hole of the Horrible Horseshoe is the hardest on the entire course. It’s a long, narrow Par 4, protected by a ditch on the left and the river on the right. You have to hit it straight here, but even a well placed drive will have a long and difficult approach with the trees seemingly encroaching on both sides. The 481-yard hole plays nearly a quarter stroke over par during this event and sees bogey or worse 28% of the time.
This is a rare early stretch of holes that will go a long way to deciding the champion of the Charles Schwab Challenge over the four days of this tournament. Pars are good scores in this section of the course, and players will be happy to escape anywhere close to even on the week.
Only two more holes over the rest of the course see birdies more than 20% of the time. That first hole is at the 6th where players can finally get a chance to score again following the Horrible Horseshoe. The last is the Par 5 11th, which won’t see many, if any, eagles as it simply isn’t reachable in two, but it is still a birdie hole. After the 11th, only the final two holes average under par, and both see birdie rates nearing 20%. The two Par 4s are both gettable with solid drives, making for an intriguing final stretch where scores can be posted to close out the day and possibly the tournament come Sunday evening.
The majority of the remaining holes will all play over par, on what is a tough track each year, and often made tougher by the signature Texas winds. Players will have to be on point off the tee, though much of that will be done with less than driver as positioning is much more important than length on this course. Since driver won’t be in play too much around Colonial Country Club, it is really a second-shot golf course. We will likely see the player that can pair elite approach play with a hot putter find the most success and even a win this week in Forth Worth.
Jordan Spieth (T10-T8-T32-T2-1)
If I were to take things beyond five years, the course history for Spieth would only get better as he has no missed cuts in the past eight years of this tournament and finished no worse than 32nd. He has two runner-up finishes, a win and three more top 15s. It’s safe to say the Texan enjoys this track, and he’s a pretty clear top option this week.
Kevin Na (MC-1-4-DNP-T42)
Another player that has found a liking to Colonial Country Club is Kevin Na. Even with a missed cut at this event last year, he stands out with his win in 2019 and a solo fourth-place finish in 2018. Na is a good example of the type of player that can have success at this event as he is not the longest off the tee, but with a sharp iron game and elite putting, he has made waves.
Justin Rose (T3-T58-1)
The first time Rose showed up to play this event at Colonial Country Club he won it by three shots. He quickly learned that he was fond of this course, and that has played out in the tournaments since. He hasn’t missed a cut in three trips and added another top-three finish in 2020. One of the keys to Rose’s success in this event has been his ability to putt well, having gained strokes on the greens in each trip.