Jordan Spieth had the reaction of many when he first learned that Colonial Country Club would be undergoing a $21 million redo following the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge.
“Man, Colonial is so great. Why would you change anything?” Spieth said. “It’s already a shorter track that still tests players and anybody can win on it. It’s one of those unique tests we get throughout the year.
“Then you look at the changes and you’re like, ‘Man, it’s still going to keep its roots. It’s still going to be Colonial.’ From what I saw, it doesn’t change the DNA of this golf course, which is already fantastic.”
The renovation project is actually going to return the course to some of its original DNA. The master plan and renovation was conceptualized and designed by Gil Hanse, one of the most respected course architects in today’s game.
Hanse’s vision for the renovation was inspired by the layout that attracted the 1941 U.S. Open. The course, which was built by Marvin Leonard and opened in 1936, was originally designed by architect John Bredemus with Perry Maxwell later redesigning Nos. 3, 4 and 5 — known as the “Horrible Horseshoe” — for the 1941 U.S. Open.
“It will still be the revered Colonial course we are all familiar with seeing and playing, but the Hanse work will improve, update, and maximize the legendary course and routing,” Colonial COO Frank Cordeiro said. “The membership is excited.”
The voting membership approved the project with an overwhelming majority in favor of it, approximately 85%. This project has been in the works for years and will help Colonial remain among the top clubs in the area for years to come.
The club described the project as addressing “every aspect of the golf course infrastructure, including a state-of-the-art irrigation system, new bunkers, tees, and green complexes.”
The greens — which will remain bentgrass — will have a state-of-the-art subterranean cooling and heating system that can adjust the temperature up or down 10 degrees. This will allow for superior growth and plant health as well as maximizing playability, aesthetics and consistency.
As Colonial tournament committee chairman Jim Whitten said, “The hydronics system on the greens is a game changer.
“To me, this was a mandate to clean this place up and make it better. You can’t get a better architect than Gil Hanse and I’m excited he chose Colonial because he thinks about things like making the course harder for a professional golfer and fairer for a member. That’s what we want. We’re here 51 weeks of the year versus the one week the pros are here.”
In a news release, Hanse said: “We are excited about the opportunity to restore some of the early character and architectural features of the golf course at Colonial. While Colonial is one of the most recognizable names in golf, the course has evolved far afield from its original vision. We are honored that the members have entrusted us with this classic gem, and will work hard to make it more visually artistic and more interesting to play.
“We are similarly hopeful that upon playing the restored course the best players in the world will find that the attributes that make Colonial challenging will still be at the heart of the design.”
The project is expected to start immediately following the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge and be ready in time for the 2023 tournament. The renovation project is expected to take approximately six months to complete with an additional six months to allow everything to grow in.
“I’ve been a member here for 29 years and this is one of the most exciting things that’s happened to us,” Whitten said.
Added Michael Tothe, the Charles Schwab Challenge tournament director: “It’s historic. When you have the opportunity to bring in Gil Hanse, one of the best modern-day architects, it’s as good as anything we could do. It sets the tone for what Colonial is going to be going forward.”