Focus on Colonial: Fort Worth gears up for Charles Schwab Challenge

Fort Worth’s Colonial Country Club is a perfect picture of blissful tranquility – a scene sure to change when 121 world-class golfers and throngs of fans converge on the local landmark for the prestigious Charles Schwab Challenge golf tournament. (Photo by K.P. Wilska)

Driving (the ball) is a big part of success in the game of golf.

And driving (one especially sweet ride) will be part of the reward for the most successful golfer at the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge, the ever-popular PGA Tour golf tournament at Fort Worth’s Colonial Country Club. Tournament festivities begin May 23 and include the Colonial Pro-Am on May 25 while the serious championship golf featuring a field of world-class competitors will be played Thursday through Sunday, May 26-29.

The tournament, which has become known for presenting its champion with a vintage automobile, will this year be giving the winner a fully restored and modernized 1979 Schwab Firebird. The car is designed to recognize a significant year in Schwab’s history, one which saw the firm make the first in a long line of major investments in technology and innovation, a central element of its ongoing success.

“I got to drive it around the block the other day, and it was so cool,” said Tournament Chairman Jim Whitten. “The ’79 model is when they went to the enclosed headlights (plastic all the way around), and that’s what this car has. It’s such a great look.”

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The car presentation began with Schwab’s first year as the tournament’s title sponsor, 2019, when a fully renovated and customized 1973 Dodge Challenger was awarded to tournament winner Kevin Na. In 2021, champion Jason Kokrak received a 946 Schwab Power Wagon.

“When Schwab did that, I think it enticed a lot of golfers to come here,” Whitten said. “Not only can they win a lot of money, they have a chance to win a really cool car.”

Also singing the praises of the 1979 Schwab Firebird: country music star Jake Owen, who is paying homage to the car and Smokey and the Bandit – the 1977 movie that immortalized the Pontiac Firebird – with a new recording of East Bound And Down, the movie’s theme song written and performed by the late Jerry Reed.

Owen’s fresh take on the song and a music video featuring the 1979 Schwab Firebird can be found on the Charles Schwab Challenge website and on Owen’s social channels.

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“We’re thrilled to partner with Jake for this fun initiative,” said Mason Reed, Managing Director of Acquisition and Corporate Marketing at Schwab. “He’s not only an incredible singer-songwriter but also knows a thing or two about golf and classic cars – and we can’t wait for fans to hear his version of East Bound And Down.”

“We are honored, once again, to play a part in the tradition of this celebrated tournament in Fort Worth and its longstanding support from the Metroplex community,” said Jonathan Craig, Managing Director and head of Investor Services and Marketing at Charles Schwab. “As we enter our fourth straight year as title sponsor, we wanted to find a special way to honor this iconic tournament in Dallas-Fort Worth and our company’s own heritage – and what better way to do so than with an iconic car, an iconic song, and a spotlight on the commitment to innovation that drives our firm.”

And, of course, along with the car, the tourney champion will receive Colonial’s traditional Leonard Trophy and Scottish royal tartan plaid jacket – not to mention a check for $1,512,000, the winner’s share of the tournament’s $8.4 million purse.

No car was awarded at the 2020 tournament, which also had no fans in attendance because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s tournament is limited to 15,000 fans per day.

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Whitten noted that because the tournament is an invitational event, the field is smaller than most PGA events. There will be 121 golfers competing, compared with 150-plus in many other tournaments. And it’s an impressive field, to say the least. Among the entrants are such big names as local favorite – and 2016 champion – Jordan Spieth, Ricky Fowler, Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa, Bubba Watson and Xander Schauffele as well as defending champion Jason Kokrak and former champions Kevin Kisner, Justin Rose, Kevin Na, Zach Johnson, Chris Kirk and Rory Sabbatini.

The Charles Schwab Challenge is the PGA Tour’s longest-running professional golf tournament at the same venue. Since 1946 the tournament has seen the biggest names in golf among its champions, including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, and of course, the legendary Ben Hogan.

Charles Schwab & Company signed on as title sponsor in 2018, held its first tournament a year later, and last year extended the company’s sponsorship through 2026.

Schwab continues to grow rapidly in the DFW Metroplex, where its new 70-acre, LEED-certified (green building) campus in Westlake is now home to the firm’s corporate headquarters.

The tournament will be televised nationally on the Golf Channel and  CBS.

Colonial makeover delayed

The planned $20 million renovation at Colonial by architect Gil Hanse will not begin until after the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge. At that time the course will be closed for about 12 months, Whitten said.

The renovation was supposed to begin following this year’s tournament, but has been delayed due to supply chain issues, he said.

When the makeover does happen, it will include some bunkers being moved, wall-to-wall new grass and hydraulic systems that will “trick” the greens into thinking it is up to 10 degrees cooler than the actual temperature.

“When it’s 100 degrees, it will feel like 90,” Whitten said.

A big change will be on the eighth hole, Whitten said. He said the green will be moved to the other side of the cart path and closer to the creek.

Whitten said the changes will make the course a “lot more fair for the average player and a lot tougher for PGA players.”


This year, the tournament has brought back the more affordable Colonial Daily Ticket ($85). The Colonial Daily Ticket for the May 25 Pro-Am is $50.

The Villages Ticket provides full access for shared golf viewing and all-inclusive dining and drinks in three, ticket-only villages at holes 8, 9, 12, 13 and 16, and also entry into Colonial’s Poolside Plaza at the Clubhouse. Village ticket holders are treated to a carefully-crafted menu in all villages, including premium liquors, beer, wine and soft drinks, all included with the ticket. Only 400 Villages Tickets are available each day, Thursday-Sunday, at a price of $325 per day.

The tournament’s only in-clubhouse ticket, featuring Colonial Signature Service and patio views of the 16th green and the 17th  tee, is the PXG Patio Club. This venue offers a VIP tournament experience. Included with the ticket are premier dining offerings from Colonial’s Executive Chef and premium liquors, beer, wine and soft drinks.

PXG Patio Club ticket holders also have full course access and entry into the three on-course villages and the Poolside Plaza at the Clubhouse, including food and drinks. A limited number of PXG Patio Club tickets are available each day Thursday-Sunday (Friday is sold out) at $575 per day.

Two VIP parking options are available. Silver parking is located at TCU’s Worth Hills Parking Garage just blocks from Colonial, with round-trip shuttle to the Colonial Clubhouse. Silver parking prices are $50 on Wednesday, $75 per day, Thursday-Sunday or $350 for the week, Wednesday-Sunday.

Gold Valet Parking is also available at the Colonial Clubhouse for $150 per day or $750 for the week, Wednesday-Sunday.

All tickets and parking for the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge are electronic, paperless tickets through Ticketmaster. Tickets can be purchased online at the Charles Schwab Challenge website.