Column: Colonial Dreams can come true (even if the putts fall short)

Rick Mauch at Colonial 

Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

May 23 – 26

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Sometimes you’ve just got to go for a dream. And while swimming with crocodiles (me in a glass cage, of course) is still a few years away, one local dream came true recently.

I got to play the famed golf course at Colonial Country Club – for free.

Now, before you start asking who I know, I wasn’t alone in this free opportunity. There were plenty of others, lots of media types, participating in the Wide Open scramble in honor of the late legend Dan Jenkins.

Dan Jenkins, in case you haven’t read his books – and why not? – was a storied Fort Worth sportswriter who wrote several best-selling novels, including Semi-Tough and Baja Oklahoma. Colonial Country Club was one of his favorite courses and he played there often. He died in March.

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I never met Dan, though I met his daughter Sally, and if she is a chip off the ol’ block, well, I’m sure I would have liked Dan. But then, from everything I ever heard about the man, everyone loved Dan – well, except for Tiger Woods, according to another local columnist and friend.

With Dan being a regular at Colonial, I could have used a few pointers from him on this day. Not that I embarrassed myself (okay, that shot on hole No. 6 I’d like back, and the one on No. 9 … I guess 13 could have been played differently, and we just won’t mention 16), because our team did finish a respectable 5 under par, shooting a 65 on the par-70 course.

And this wasn’t one of those scrambles where you can buy 20 mulligans and replay every other shot. There were no gimmicks such as buying up to 10 feet of string and then you don’t have to attempt a putt on anything within the measurement of string you use.

Yes, I actually did play in a tournament that offered that once. The winning team shot somewhere around 95 under par and every player had a hole-in-one on a par-5. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but my point is in Dan Jenkins’ tournament, what you shot is what you shot. And one team managed to find its way to a mind-boggling 14 under par, winning by lengths that would have made Dan’s hero, Ben Hogan, proud.

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The one semi-gimmick that was allowed was that each player could throw the ball for one shot. That’s right, instead of hitting, chipping, etc., you could actually pick up the ball and throw it. Supposedly it was one of Dan’s rules, and again, though I never met him, it does seem like something that would come from his personality.

My throw actually was a good one, if not dead solid perfect. It was from the edge of the green and close enough to the hole that we used it to set up a short par putt. Thanks again to my playing partners for not suggesting that I throw every one of my shots instead of using a golf club.

My partners included Dallas Mavericks radio announcer Chuck Cooperstein, Colonial member Chuck Scherer and Jason Walsh of The two Chucks carried us, I’m not ashamed to admit — Cooperstein with the ability to hit a drive halfway to Waco (or at least to Burleson), and Scherer, knowing the course like Dan Jenkins knew how to write, knew exactly what shot should go where (not that they all went there, mind you).

I’ve been on the Colonial course many times, both working and watching, but never as a player. It is everything a golf lover could want: great fairways, smooth greens and beauty all around. Why any pro golfer would skip playing here puzzles me.

Along with being a lot of fun, the day was also an introduction to the folks who saved the Colonial tournament. Now it will be called the Charles Schwab Challenge, to be held May 23-26.

While I wish Colonial was still in the official name, I’m happy the elite event will continue, and I’m thankful to the folks at Charles Schwab for stepping forward.

And I’m thankful for the chance to finally play one of the finest golf courses to be found. Now, if only the folks at Augusta National would call me back …