Fort Worth’s Rich Golf History

FORT WORTH | This week’s Colonial PGA Tour event is all about the tradition of its course, Colonial Country Club, the longest-tenured course on the PGA Tour outside of Augusta National.

It’s the tradition of its five-time champion, Fort Worth native and golf legend Ben Hogan, and its historic course with dozens of trees on the banks of the Trinity River. It opened in the heart of the Great Depression, 1936, but prospered as the first course in North Texas with bentgrass greens and has served as host to both the men’s and women’s U.S. Open along with the Colonial tour event.


There is the tradition of the red plaid jacket given to the winner and the tradition of the black marble Wall of Fame engraved with every winner’s name on the first tee, from Hogan to Nicklaus, Trevino to Crenshaw to Wadkins to Mickelson and Garcia.

But the two most historic courses in Fort Worth, if not all of North Texas, Shady Oaks Country Club and Glen Garden Golf and Country Club, lie within 10-15 minutes from the Colonial layout, making it only the third most historic layout in this golf-rich city.

While Colonial is old money, Shady Oaks is really, really old money. In the small enclave of Wentworth Gardens, the extremely private layout was the final golf resting place of Hogan.

He won his golf titles and established his legend at Colonial, but played his golf and courted his friends at Shady Oaks.

When Hogan retired from the Tour in the late 1960s, with his final competitive round at Champions Golf Club in Houston, he established the Ben Hogan Company in Fort Worth and began following a daily routine from which he seldom varied.

He would have his driver take him to lunch every day at Shady Oaks. A large circular table, still in place, would host Hogan and his friends as they dined. Then, Hogan would take a long shower or steam bath in the locker room for his battered body and either play nine or 18 holes with his friends or just hit balls.

While his golf got less regular as the years rolled on (although he did shoot 66 on his 66th birthday) he would often take one or two bags of balls to the back nine at Shady Oaks and perform his perfectly honed craft in the silence.

It’s been said that the trees and his canine companion at Shady Oaks saw some of the greatest shots ever made by Hogan and still stand as his mute witness.

Today, head pro Mike Wright helps oversee the Ben Hogan Foundation based at Shady Oaks to preserve and promote the Hogan legacy for the next generation of golfers mainly through the expanding First Tee of Fort Worth facility.

The Tour players in town this week certainly know of the Hogan mystique. That’s why Chad Campbell and Jim Furyk stopped by for a casual round Tuesday. Former President George W Bush was a Wednesday Shady Oaks guest.

Glen Garden isn’t new or old money and doesn’t really have a lot of extra funds laying around, but the course, which opened in 1912, served as the boyhood home of Hogan and Nelson who both caddied here in their youth. LPGA star Sandra Palmer also grew up here.

Today, there are no caddies or caddie shack at Glen Garden, but memories are still strong. At a recent lavish 100th anniversary celebration, Peggy Nelson and Marty Leonard, whose father founded Colonial, came to speak.

“It’s a pretty cool place to know that they came from here and that people still come to take photos and see the memorabilia,” said Glen Garden head professional Jason Rocha.

The most famous event in Glen Garden’s history came in 1927 when Nelson and Hogan matched each other in the annual caddie tournament. Nelson bested Hogan by a single shot on the ninth hole, in the first of three head-to-head matchups in their career with Nelson winning each time.

The history of the Colonial was on nationally televised display last weekend for all the world to see, but the legacy of TGA courses Shady Oaks and Glen Garden is a historic chapter all unto itself.

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John Bearrie and Aaron Hickman won the Texas Golf Association State Four-Ball Championship at Crown Colonial Golf Club in Lufkin with a dramatic final-hole birdie.

After laying up on the par-5 18th hole, Hickman found himself staring at a 70-yard pitch shot needing birdie to claim victory. As steady as could be, Hickman placed his shot inside a foot to secure a one-shot victory for he and his partner. They finished with a three-day total of 206.

In a three-way tie for second were the teams of John Kennedy/Gary Ivans, Trevor Hyde/David Pocknall, and Randy Lance/David Ward who all finished the tournament at 9-under-par 207.

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Jordan Sanders of Austin fought through the strong winds to card a tournament-record 9-under-par 135 (66-69) to win the Boys 15-18 division by five shots at the Bluebonnet Championship. Julia Beck won the Girls 12-18 division on the first playoff hole after matching Kirsten Pike with even-par 143. Cooper Dossey of Austin defeated Travis McInroe of Plano to win the Boys 14 & Under division by three shots.

Conducted by the Legends Junior Tour, the Bluebonnet Championship featured a field of 120 players from Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mexico.

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