'Refreshed' course awaits golfers at Charles Schwab Challenge

League: Golf

Posted on: 22 May, 2024 at 07:00 PM

Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

As the world of men's golf comes off its second major championship of the season, it will not be the players but rather the course itself that takes center stage at the Charles Schwab Challenge, beginning Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas.

Colonial Country Club is the PGA Tour's longest-running venue for a non-major, about to host this event for the 78th time. But after last year's event concluded with Emiliano Grillo of Argentina the victor, the course underwent a renovation spearheaded by Gil Hanse.

Not only did the entire course need re-sodding, but Hanse sought to restore the way the course looked decades ago, which he has described as a more "rugged," natural look.

"A new golf course this year -- refreshed, maybe, is a better word than new," Australian Adam Scott said. "But a great golf course, a great venue on tour. With the improvement to the course, I was very keen to come back."

Rather than lengthen the course, Hanse left the par-70, 7,289-yard track on the shorter side of things.

Notably, he removed a concrete spillway that traveled along the 16th through 18th holes, which captured Grillo's wayward drive at the last hole on Sunday last year. His ball was carried in a small current of water, and he had to wait several minutes for it to come to rest.

Despite a double bogey at No. 18, Grillo beat Adam Schenk in a playoff for his first win in nearly eight years.

Grillo is back to defend his title but approaching the week like it's all brand-new.

"Obviously, the greens are going to be new, they're going to be hard," Grillo said. "If we get some rain like it's expected it's going to be playing a little bit longer, and with harder greens, so that's a tough combination. New reads, new contours, new everything, so I got to go out (beforehand) and do my homework and pretend it's a place I've never played."

Colonial has seen names like Scott (2014), Jordan Spieth (2016), Englishman Justin Rose (2018) and Sam Burns (2022) win in recent years. Five of the top 20 players in the world rankings, and 23 of the top 50, are in the field this week.

Scottie Scheffler is scheduled to tee off Thursday afternoon as he tries to get his life back to normal. With a newborn at home, Scheffler made his return to competition last week at the PGA Championship, only to be arrested and charged with assault of a police officer over what he called a misunderstanding over traffic signals outside the course pre-dawn on Friday.

Scheffler, the World No. 1, has won four of his past six starts. Collin Morikawa, who was tied for the 54-hole lead at the PGA before fading to a T4 finish, is the next highest-ranked player in the field at No. 9.

Like Scheffler, Spieth is back at home whenever he returns to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In addition to his 2016 victory, he has placed second at Colonial in 2015, 2017 and 2021.

"I feel good. It's nice that I'm able to be in my own bed," Spieth said. "This tournament's always actually felt like kind of an exhale. ... I did a lot of good things the last couple weeks and improving on some stuff I wanted to and I still have some parts of the game that need some work and hopefully knock that out today and into the beginning of this weekend it gets better and better."

--Field Level Media