If Marvin Leonard wasn’t “crazy”, Colonial Country Club wouldn’t have been born 85 years ago and become the oldest battlefield on the PGA Tour.

The Charles Schwab Challenge is in its 75th round at Colonial, par70. The prize began in 1936, originally named Colonial National Invitation. Since its inception, the event has only been in Colonial, although it has been renamed many times due to changing the title sponsor.

And the yard is present thanks to Leonard’s “paradoxical” thinking.

Leonard (left) presents the trophy to Ben Hogan after Hogan once won the Colonial National Invitation - the predecessor of the Charles Schwab Challenge.  Photo: Paper City

Leonard (left) presents the trophy to Ben Hogan after Hogan once won the Colonial National Invitation – the predecessor of the Charles Schwab Challenge. Image: Paper City

In 1922, this retail trader played golf at Glen Garden Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. But the first experiences in this subject were not very interesting. It is not clear how many sticks Leonard hit that day, but according to rumors in the world, it was not until half a decade later that he returned to the elite game in America at that time. “Golf looks silly and I don’t have time to play silly games like that,” Leonard once commented in a local newspaper.

In the late 20s, he tried again, then liked it and began playing regularly at Glen Garden – where Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson used to carry bags of clubs for a living before becoming legendary players. Glen Garden wasn’t enough, Leonard also became a member of the nearby River Crest. At this time, he usually hit no more than 85 strokes for 18 holes.

During the summer, Leonard goes golfing in Colorado and California. He liked the soft, silky greens in those states, so he should investigate. Native experts give the answer: Bentgrass.

So Leonard came up with an even sillier idea than the game he had described: bring Bentgrass back to Texas to make greens.

At that time, his hometown Texas courts preferred to use greens from Bermuda grass because of its ability to withstand the hot summer. However, the businessman hates the kind of ball that bounces around, cluckling every time he pins a hole on that type of surface. He loves smooth bentgrass, occasionally helping to break the 80-foot mark.

Little did Leonard know that bentgrass was vulnerable to the Texas weather. He had seen it at Glen Garden. But it was only a small patch on the 18th hole green, not many people noticed.

Leonard tried to convince many field leaders but failed.

During negotiations at River Crest, he offered to finance the cost of converting some greens to bentgrass. And if the test failed, he paid them back to the bermuda status quo.

The management shook its head. It was in the midst of the Great Recession so it was hard to convince others to take the risk.

Leonard left, but did not give up.

“People said, ‘Marvin, if you like bentgrass so much, why don’t you build your own yard.’ And my dad did,” Marty – Leonard’s daughter later told the newspaper. Star-Telegram in Fortworth.

As a first step, Leonard purchased land near the Trinity River, not far from Texas Catholic University. Next, he hired John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell to design the yard.

The two sides agreed on the master plan. But in the green part, both architects do not approve of bentgrass, because this type only thrives in cold areas and hot areas cannot grow widely. They also cited previous failed experiments.

However, Leonard is the project investor. He believes that Bentgrass can still flourish if the soil is prepared carefully.

He spent up to $ 300,000 and worked hard on the project, and expert Claude Whalen studied all the ways for “foreign grass” to live in the intense heat. Through this period, Leonard also drove his car up the green, from place to place to check the condition and quality.

Finally, the course was completed with the original name Colonial Golf Club. In 1935, he invited friends and business partners to join the membership, each paying a deposit of 50 USD to experience the “unique green face” in the area. When it opened on January 29, 1936, the stadium had nearly 100 members.

Ben Hogan is the personal coach for Marty - daughter of Marvin Leonard.

Ben Hogan is the personal coach for Marty – daughter of Marvin Leonard.

Colonial operates between two streams of public opinion – the inherently skeptical and the curious. Golfers from the surrounding areas flocked to try the green bentgrass and were not disappointed. Gradually, the yard was rumored to be good.

And it turns out that with Colonial, businessman Leonard began to step into a more grandiose golf dream.

He was eager to find a prize for the yard. Five years after its inauguration, Colonial hosted the 1941 US Open major of the American Golf Association (USGA). On that occasion, Leonard spent $20,000 for the host organization.

At the end of the next half decade, the field with the new name “Colonial Country Club”, entered the list of regular PGA Tour battlegrounds for the first time. Since then, the American arena has returned to the Colonial every year, except in 1949 when it was flooded by storms.

Even, the outbreak of Covid-19 last year caused the PGA Tour to close for more than three months. But when it reopened, the Charles Schwab Challenge topped the rematch schedule.

To date, Colonial still has 18 original green faces – bentgrass A-4 line, with an average area of ​​​​464.5 square meters per green.

In fact, they were energised when they won the 1991 US Women’s Open major. That July, the harsh Texas summer caused the maintenance team from the USGA to pour ice on a green to maintain quality. Kicked so much that the green went from green to blue.

The 75th Charles Schwab Challenge in Colonial will close the curtain on the morning of May 31, Vietnam time.

After 54 holes, Jordan Spieth still monopolizes the top of the table with a score of -15. He held the first place from the opening day of May 27, with a 63-stroke first round and 66 strokes in the next two stages. The bonus fund this year reached $7.5 million.

Quoc Huy

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