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Colonial A to Z: Crowne Plaza Invitational

Posted 7:09am on Thursday, May. 22, 2014

Each spring when the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial rolls around, we turn giddy — it’s the golf, the tradition, the party atmosphere and that quintessential Fort Worth feeling of refined rowdiness that we love so much.

In fact, we could give you an A-to-Z list of reasons why we’re pumped for the 68th edition of Colonial this weekend.

Which is exactly what we did.

A is for Adam Scott, the new No. 1 player in the world, who will be in the field at Colonial this week. The Aussie hunk, who won the Masters in 2013, finally wrestled the top ranking away from Tiger Woods, giving Colonial its first No. 1 player since Nick Price in 1995. It’s been a year of milestones for Scott, 33, who married his longtime girlfriend, Marie Kojzar, last month.

B is for the Ben Hogan statue, the 7-foot-tall tower of bronze that greets you near the clubhouse. The legendary Fort Worth golfer won Colonial five times, which is why it’s nicknamed Hogan’s Alley. Don’t forget to take a selfie with the Hawk.

C is for the Champions’ Club, where the drinking doesn’t officially begin till 10 a.m., but people line up well before then. The tent, near the 10th tee box, is essentially an on-course nightclub with food, adult beverages, and, most importantly, air conditioning. If the temps top 90, you’ll wish you’d sprung for the $225 weekly Champions’ Club badge.

D is for doglegs. Colonial has plenty of these — at least 10 of 18 holes, by our count. And that makes the relatively short 7,204-yard layout a tight test for any PGA player, especially when the wind blows. No. 3, a 483-yard Par 4, is our favorite, with its severe bend to the left and bunkers guarding the corner. Make par here all four days and you could end up hoisting the trophy Sunday.

E is for Eldrick “Tiger” Woods, who hasn’t played Colonial since his only appearance in 1997. At least this year, Tiger’s got a legitimate excuse — he’s recovering from back surgery.

F is for the first-place check of $1.152 million. That’s roughly the same amount paid to all the competitors in the first 24 Colonial tournaments (1946-70) combined. In other words, mommas let your babies grow up to be pro golfers.

G is for green, the prevailing color at Colonial. Strolling along the emerald fairways, lined by mature trees, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful shades of green. The players will try to solve the subtle greens at Colonial. And if you want to go green, ride your bike to Colonial on Saturday or Sunday and park at the Green Gate.

H is for the Horrible Horseshoe. That’s the nickname of Colonial’s most treacherous stretch, holes 3-5. We’ve already told you about No. 3 (see D for doglegs). No. 4 is a 247-yard par 3 that looks as long as an airport runway. No. 5, a narrow 481-yard par 4, borders the Trinity River on the right, and any tee ball fading too much goes for a swim. Follow your favorite golfer through the Horseshoe and pray for his survival.

I is for interactive. Colonial is all about tradition, but it’s hip to the social media thing, too. Follow the tourney on Twitter @CrownePlazaInv, and keep an eye out for the Tweet Caddies, who will be roaming the course, taking photos and sharing them via social media. As for the golfers, may we recommend you follow the dry-witted @JasonDufner and the supercool @RickieFowlerPGA.

J is for Jim Furyk, the consummate pro and No. 12 player in the world who returns to Colonial every year. That’s why Fort Worth loves him. After a second-place finish at the Players Championship two weeks ago, Furyk is on a roll. Could this be his year at Colonial?

K is for Kuuuuuuch, as in Matt Kuchar, the No. 4-ranked player in the world and one of the most popular guys on tour. The 35-year-old with the Cheshire Cat grin is a regular presence in the Top 10 this year (he’s been there in 9 of 13 events), and he was runner-up at last year’s Colonial to Boo Weekley. Come to think of it, expect to hear plenty of Boooooooos, too, as fans cheer on the defending champ.

L is for Love, as in Tim Love, the Fort Worth celebrity chef (Lonesome Dove, Woodshed) who is ratcheting up the menu choices (and prices) at concession stands this year. New menu items include the Love burger ($8), Colonial fried chicken sandy ($9), Parmesan truffle fries ($6), smoked pork tamales ($9), and chile-spiked watermelon ($5). Learn more, Page 23Z.

M is for Molly the Trolley, which will transport fans leaving the course from the clubhouse to the shuttle pickup at Frost Park from 1 to 7 p.m. through Sunday. Several residential streets around the clubhouse are closed this year, which means the “park and crawl” lots will require a lot more crawling. Best bet is to take shuttles from TCU or Farrington Field.

N is for the 19th hole, the place to unwind after a long day at the course. But considering most fans are already unwinding and imbibing at Colonial, the 19th Hole can also be a place to keep the party rolling. Try Chimy’s, Rodeo Goat and Pour House in the West 7th area; Fuzzy’s, Fred’s or Buffalo Bros. near TCU; and Frankie’s, Flying Saucer or the new Brass Tap downtown.

O is for Old 97’s. The DFW band will perform a free show Saturday night at the new Frost Park entrance and Fan Fest area. (Reckless Kelly plays Friday night.) You don’t need a Colonial ticket to see the concerts.

P is for plaid jackets. In addition to the big trophy and giant check, the Colonial winner gets his very own official Scottish tartan jacket. The tradition, which honors the origins of golf, began in 1952 and continues today. Colonial committee chairmen also wear their plaid jackets during the trophy ceremony, so the winner won’t feel quite so, um, conspicuous.

Q is for “Quiet,” please. The marshals who hold up those “Quiet” signs every time a golfer tees off or pulls the trigger on a putt are not doing it for their health. So do them a solid and turn off the cell, hold that thought and just watch the golf.

R is for Rickie Fowler, the Puma-wearing poster boy for golf’s young guns. Colonial may lack the star power of Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods, but Fowler nearly makes up for it with his matinee-idol looks, his sly Crowne Plaza TV commercials and his high-wattage outfits.

S is for sundresses, sunglasses and sandals. Anyone who thinks Colonial is just about golf has never been to the tournament. The fashion show on the fairways is half the fun. Maybe more. So get your best golf outfits ready, and don’t forget to smile for our party pics cameras.

T is for the thirteenth hole, aka the Party Hole. The 190-yard par-3 over water is where boisterous crowds plant themselves — on the grass, in the grandstands, in the picnic areas, in the corporate tents — and raise a glass (or four) to Colonial. They also wager on caddie races (whichever caddie sets foot on the green first wins!) adding to the fun, frivolity and decibel levels. Word is the PGA has put the kibosh on caddie races this year, but we’re betting fans will ignore that memo.

U is for Under Armour, sponsor of Jordan Spieth. The sports apparel maker had the good sense to make Spieth its first head-to-toe golfer last year, and the 20-year-old Dallas native has quickly paid dividends. He has been in contention almost every week he tees it up, including at the Masters and the Players Championship. He was the 2013 rookie of the year and is now the No. 9-ranked golfer in the world. In short, Spieth is the PGA Tour’s hottest commodity, so expect to see plenty of UA gear in Spieth’s galleries at Colonial.

V is for volunteers. The tournament couldn’t exist without them. Most of the 1,300 volunteers do it because they love golf and the tournament, and because it’s a tradition. (They even have to buy their own Colonial shirts!) So whisper a “thank you” to them, even if they’re holding a “Quiet” sign.

W is for the Wall of Champions. A monument to Colonial’s 68 years of tradition, the WOC greets players on the first tee and should give them chills if they consider the possibility that their name could be etched on the same wall with Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Tom Watson.

X is eXtra security measures. (OK, so we cheated here.) In addition to the new entrance, you can expect new, heightened security efforts. You’ll be wanded, and no purses larger than 6 inches in height, width and diameter will be permitted. Same rule applies to camera bags, backpacks, binocular cases, etc., per PGA Tour rules. Cellphones are allowed, but can only be used in designated areas.

Y is for youngsters, 12 and under. They get into Colonial free, so make golf a family affair — especially if you’ve got some future Rickie Fowlers, Dustin Johnsons or Lexi Thompsons in your family.

Z is for Zach Attack. Two-time Colonial champion Zach Johnson returns, ready to win another plaid jacket. Johnson finished third last year, and with his pinpoint wedge game and smooth putting stroke, he’s always a threat here. So get ready for another Zach Attack.

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