This week, we sat down with Fort Worth and Colonial Country Club’s own, James Edmondson. James has been a lifetime resident of “Cow Town” and grew up in the shadow of the course. For those who do not know, James played collegiate golf at the University of Houston where he began his relationship with PGA Tour Pro, Ryan Palmer. James is also a current member of Colonial Country Club where he has won multiple club championships. If there is anyone who knows how “Hogan’s Alley” will challenge the world’s best golfers, it is James Edmondson.
Much like Augusta National, Colonial Country Club has been hosting this tournament every year but two since 1946, and is a member run event. Members of the club “take a lot of pride in it. They bend over backwards to do whatever for the guys… and the guys know it and appreciate it,” said James, when asked about the importance of this event to Colonial members. Like the citizens of Augusta, GA the people of Fort Worth, TX understand and appreciate the impact this tournament has on the city. “Its always been Fort Worth’s event. Its always a big deal. Its certainly one of the few events left where the venue is as big as the players. Its May and everyone knows the Tour comes to Colonial.”
This is an “Old School” course, established in 1936 with as rich a history as any event on tour. Past winners include the likes of Ben Hogan (5 times), Snead, Nicklaus, Trevino, Palmer and more recently Mickelson, Johnson and Scott. The Ben Hogan Office and memorabilia lining the walls of the clubhouse take visitors back to a simpler time, when shot making had more value than big drives. Many courses from this era have become obsolete as technology in the game have rendered them extremely vulnerable to today’s pro golfer. Not so, here at Colonial Country Club, where Adam Scott’s 4 round total of 271 was the exact same score posted by last year’s US Open winner, Martin Kaymer.
According to Edmondson, the recent monsoon season and record rain falls have soften this course, which “plays harder when firmer.” With more rain expected over the weekend, course officials told Edmondson that the greens will likely play soft, which should “favor long guys because… you can bang it down there as far as you want, hit something to the front and it will hold the greens.” This leads James to “anticipate pretty low scores.” There will however, be some gnarly rough, as it is believed, ground crews will “not be able to cut the rough, and will probably be the longest we have seen in recent memory.” Playing at a length of 3 inches plus.
Edmondson, however, is encouraged by the soft conditions because his player, Ryan Palmer is one of the longest hitters on tour. This past week, Ryan and James played a practice round together and left extremely encouraged as Ryan went out and shot 61 tying the course record.
This does not lead to any overconfidence by the duo as both James and Ryan understand how challenging and difficult this course can play. Take for example Colonial’s famed, “Horrible Horseshoe.” The 3rd thru 5th holes can make a break a tournament for any competitor. We asked James to break down the plan he and Palmer will be using this week for these 3 holes specifically. The plan seems simple but the execution will be a challenge.
“On #3 – we will bang a driver over the bunkers on the left, leaving a wedge or 9 iron into the green because Ryan is able to carry it further than a lot of guys out here.
On #4 – hit a mid-iron to 5-Wood to the middle of the green, 2 putt and make par. If you make birdie here its a bonus. Walk away happy with your 3.
On #5 – slide something in between the river on the right and the rough on the left. Probably hit 5 or 6 iron into the middle of the green and try to make par.”
As James remarked, “if you can get to #6 even par or better, you are in great position.” This will be the goal of everyone in the field this week, but the weather conditions will dictate a lot of what happens this week.