This week, the PGA Tour pays a visit to a true classic - Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Hogan's Alley. By PGA Tour standards, Colonial is far from the longest course on Tour. What makes Colonial so special, along with the history, are the tight, tree-lined holes that require supreme shot-making.
Before the tournament teed off, we caught up with Colonial PGA Head professional Dow Finsterwald, Jr. for a little Q&A.
PGA.com: Thank you for joining us again this year, Dow. Colonial is a breath of fresh air each year. It's one of the few places left on the PGA Tour were bombing it doesn't mean you have an advantage. It's all about placement at Colonial, which puts a premium on shot-making. Do you think that's a nice change of pace?
Finsterwald: Even by increasing the yardage by 200 yards two years ago, distance is not essential at Colonial due to all of the doglegs. Most holes require a player to put the ball in a certain position in the fairway to have the best shot at attacking the pin. Therefore, regardless of what club the player chooses to reach that position, most will be playing from roughly the same yardage taking the advantage away from the tours longer hitters (which is about all of them). I think the players enjoy playing a traditional course as much as the fans enjoy easy access to the entire course. This year we are expecting breezy conditions which will play havoc with club selection in accessing some of the smallest greens on the PGA Tour.
PGA.com: Speaking of shot-makers, your defending champion is Zach Johnson. Zach famously won the Masters a few years back by laying up to all of the par 5s and trusting his wedges. How difficult do you think it is for players at the highest level to, "lay off the gas pedal," so to speak and dial back on club selection?
Finsterwald: This is the second year of the groove change rule. Many players were bombing their drivers with little care about hitting their ball in the rough. Now they must think a little more about playing from the short grass where the predictability is greater especially when accessing Colonials small greens.
PGA.com: It's a question I feel like I ask you every year, so we'll keep the tradition going -- any chance we see a Texan win Colonial this year? If so, who do you like?
Finsterwald: For some reason it is always hard to play at home. We do, however, have several Texans that are playing well that I feel have a good chance for a Colonial victory, Rod Pampling played a few days last week with some of the members and is playing well, Chad Campbell has continued to play better every week, Jason Day is as hot as anyone on the tour, Ryan Palmer is a Colonial member and a local favorite and his caddie is a former club champion. My pick is Chad Campbell.
PGA.com: What impresses you most about the younger generation of players on Tour today?
Finsterwald: The younger generation is a large group of great players who have all the facets that make a complete golfer: length, accuracy and a deft touch around the greens. On top of all that, they are not afraid to win. Regardless of their size they all hit the ball 300 yards in the air and are highly experienced. We are in the midst of a generation change of prominent golfers, so I am excited to see who becomes the next Tiger, or Phil.
PGA.com: Final question, Dow. Come late Sunday afternoon, can you describe to us what you would see as an ideal finish at Colonial?
Finsterwald: An ideal finish at Colonial for me would be an 80-degree, sunny day that has the dramatics of a playoff between a couple of the local favorites and a nationally prominent player.