The DEAN & Deluca Invitational is a rare event on Tour in the sense that it has always been played at one course instead of the Tour moving it around to different golf courses.
Ben Hogan won the event on five different occasions and has been unofficially associated with the event since. Colonial is a neat course in the sense that it really fits Hogan’s game as it is a ballstriker’s course that places an emphasis on accuracy off the tee combined with a lot of doglegs on the par-4’s going in both directions.
The course was famously known for having bent grass greens despite being in Texas. As a New York native that grew up on bent grass greens and having lived in the south for the past 20 years I often get asked about ‘playing the grain’ on Bermuda and its difference between bent grass.
These days the different types of Bermuda grasses are so good that they can roll as smoothly as bent grass greens. Championship Bermuda can roll just as fast as most top quality bent greens. TifEagle is my preferred Bermuda grass because of its smoothness and it’s durability as it can handle a lot of foot traffic and doesn’t need as much money and resources to care for it like Championship Bermuda. However, I wouldn’t push anything more than 11 on the stimp with TifEagle (and really 10 to 10.5 should be the limit).
TifDwarf can handle faster speeds, but requires a lot of care and isn’t good when you have a lot of traffic. Miniverde is excellent although it seems to grow more rapidly by the evening and sometimes is difficult to get a feel for the roll.
Red Stick Golf Club in Vero Beach, FL initially installed bent grass on their greens as they wanted to be the only club in Florida to do so. But, they found out the hard way that it just doesn’t work and found exactly what I was saying…well kept Bermuda rolls just as well as bent grass greens.
So, what’s the advantage of bent grass greens? If you want a super-duper ridiculous stimp..bent works better (although it better be in a climate conducive to bent). Augusta National greens simply wouldn’t be as slick with Bermuda. However, Augusta can sustain bent grass greens as the weather isn’t as hot as people think it is there.
But the main benefits of bent grass greens up North is that courses with little funding, limited resources and greenkeepers with less experience and skill can still have excellent bent grass greens. With Bermuda it takes money, resources and a skilled greenkeeper along with some cooperation with the weather to make quality greens. And if you don’t have one of those things such as the weather not cooperating…it’s going to be a tough go to make quality Bermuda greens.
Most of the players on Tour like Colonial a lot due to its old school design features and its history and prestige. It doesn’t draw in more players partly due to the low purse and it has similar features to Sawgrass…a tight course that features some severe doglegs on the par-4’s which takes away the advantage of hitting it long off the tee.
You’ll generally see players that are very accurate off the tee do well here. For the longer hitters, they better be good with the 3-wood to keep shots in play. There are some key long approach shots and some key short approach shots. It also doesn’t have a super high GIR, so players need to be able to get up-and-down to keep themselves in contention. The course is playing a little soft which may benefit the longer hitters slightly, but give the tightness of the course I think that advantage would still be slight at best.
PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -13
Jon Rahm +1,100
Jordan Spieth +1,100
Paul Casey +2,200
Kevin Kisner +2,200
Matt Kuchar +2,500
3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS
Webb Simpson +4,000
Kyle Stanley +5,000
Wesley Bryan +7,000
Nick Taylor +7,500
Aaron Baddeley +17,500