History, Questions, Optimism Surround PGA Tour’s Return at Colonial

Jordan Spieth

84 years ago, Marvin Leonard brought a golf course to his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.

Little did he know that his Colonial Country Club creation would serve as the amphitheater for the PGA Tour’s return in 2020.

Colonial is synonymous with Fort Worth native Ben Hogan, who won the invitational five times. 

Now, the Charles Schwab Challenge welcomes the best golfers back to action after a three-month hiatus. 

“I love this place,” said the 2016 Charles Schwab Challenge winner Jordan Spieth to reporters on Tuesday. “I’m really glad that we were able to play this tournament this year, given it’s not in its normal place in May.”

The last time there was PGA Tour golf was back in March at the PLAYERS Championship. After one round, the tournament shut down, like the rest of the sports world, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

March, turned to April, which transitioned into May. The conversation turned from the possibility of sports coming back to the dates of their return. The PGA Tour made significant schedule changes in April, moving the PGA Championship, U.S. Open, and the Masters into the late summer and autumn months.

The Charles Schwab Challenge moved to the middle of June, signaling golf’s comeback. 

Many golfers are excited to get back to their peak shape, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, and Brooks Koepka, the top three players on the World Golf Rankings. 

“The mission was to not shank the first seven balls I hit on the range, trying to make contact with the ball, and then slowly just try to get the rust off,” Rahm said to reporters. “In the last week, week and a half, what I tried to do is play a little bit more, spend more time on the golf course and just get used to playing and walking 18 holes, and just tried to get the rust a little bit off and tried to be as ready as possible for this week.”

This week’s Charles Schwab Challenge will look different compared to previous renditions. For starters, there are no fans. Besides golfers, volunteers, tournament personnel, limited media, and camera crews, the course will be empty. The high fives and fist bumps between players and fans will be nonexistent. 

From a broadcast perspective, the viewers witnessed a pandemic production during TaylorMade’s Driving Relief and The Match 2.0. With CBS having the honours of calling this week’s event, Jim Nantz will be in the 18th TV tower all alone, adhering to social distancing guidelines. CBS golf commentators Nick Faldo, Ian Baker-Finch, and Frank Nobilo will be broadcasting remotely from Golf Channel studios in Florida. Mark Immelman and Dottie Pepper will be walking the course with players, with Amanda Balionis doing post-round interviews from home. 

“It’s going to be different,” said Dustin Johnson to reporters on Wednesday. “There’s not going to be as much energy, especially out there on a Sunday if you’re around the lead coming down the stretch. But you know, it’s still a big tournament. You know, we’re still playing for the same thing we were before, and there is a lot of people watching.”

As the tournament gets underway, these differences will subside into the background. Like the rest of society enduring this pandemic, golfers will embrace the new normal.

But this week’s tournament at Colonial marks the return to a semblance of normality. 

On Sunday night, the tournament’s winner will dawn the red tartan jacket.

Just like Marvin Leonard dreamt of those many years ago. 

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