The St. Jude Invitational has since moved to TPC Southwind, but the event originally known as The Memphis Open held its first 30 years at Colonial Country Club. That included, during 1971, when the club moved its physical location to the Cordova suburb, where professionals found a new Joe Finger-designed course awaiting them.
Lee Trevino won the first two installments at Colonial’s South course, and would add one more before the event moved during 1988. Notable in the tournament’s history was Al Geiberger shooting the first-ever 59 in PGA history during 1977, and yet he may not have been the highlight of the tournament: President Gerald Ford made his first career ace during the Pro-Am event.
Ford is not noted as a great golfer, but don’t let his good fortune mislead you. From the tips, South measures 7,330 yards and a slope rating of 148, with forced carries and encroaching water hazards aplenty.
Colonial South made news in 1977 when Al Geiberger shot a record 59. Perhaps a harbinger of the improbable, two days earlier President Gerald Ford made a hole in one at the Danny Thomas Pro-Am.
The first hole is a welcoming par five. Favor the left off the tee to take the right fairway bunker out of play. The hole has some rolling ups and downs and the approach is uphill to a green with bunkers front left and two right and a water hazard left. The 2nd is a bit tougher. Par four that leans a bit right with fairway bunkers right and left. Greenside bunker front left and back right. The 3rd is the shortest hole on the course. The green is quite long and is surrounded by bunkers. The 4th is a demanding dogleg left par four. Treelined with a bunker on the inside elbow and the green has four bunkers. The 5th is a mid-yardage par three. The tee shot is out of a chute to another green with four bunkers. (see a theme?) The 6th is a good birdie oppty. Favor the right side to take the eft fairway bunker out of play. This green also has four bunkers, three in front and another left. The 7th is a par five with OB left. Favor the right off the tee and pay it as a 3 shotter. The terrain is similar to one as they are parallel. Another uphill green with four bunkers. The 8th is deservedly the number one handicap hole, long with OB left and trees right. Leans right and only has two greenside bunkers. The 9th is a good birdie oppty if you successfully come out of the chute. There is a fairway bunker left and four compass bunkers.
The back starts with a long par four that leans a little right with two fairway bunkers in the right landing area. There is also a pesky water hazard left of the green and a greenside bunker right. The 11th is the shortest par, however, OB right and water left. Take an extra club on your approach to a green with only 3 bunkers. The 12th is a Florida par three and is the longest of the one shotters. Water front, left and bunkers back left and right. The 13th is the toughest hole on the back. A long par four dogleg right with a water hazard right. To have a decent shot at par you need to cut some of the hazard. The question is how much, it is a question that I have yet to answer correctly. The 14th is the same yardage as 13, but plays much easier. Yes, there is a water hazard right, but it is much more benign than 13s. The green has front bunkers left and right. The 15th is the last par three. Water right and the heart shaped green has three bunkers. The par 5 16th is my favorite hole, a reverse S par five with all kinds of challenges, but fun regardless. The first part of the hole is flat with a treelined dropoff right. If you are playing conservative, just hit it down the middle. Conversely, if you are being aggressive or just want a little excitement in your life, cut some of the corner right. If you successfully clear the trees the ball will hit the downslope and usually get to the bottom of the hill. This will leave you with about 200 yards to the green. However, most of it will be a water carry. If you have taken the risk off the tee it would be foolish to be conservative now. Super risk reward hole. Just about any hole after this one would be a let down. The 17th is demanding in and of itself. A long par four dogleg right to a green with two greenside bunkers. The 18th is a good finishing par five. Water just about all the way down the eft with the green perched in it. I have seen people get home in two, but….. Favor the right off the tee and on the second shot. Three average shots and you should be putting for birdie.
A good course that is a bit too predictable.