Colonial counts down to Crowne Plaza Invitational golf tournament

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Above the stairs of Colonial Country Club's lobby, past stacks of boxes and behind a computer Michael Tothe answered another call.

Outside, ice trucks rolled, and a Coca-Cola truck unloaded as the club put final touches on the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial 2014 golf tournament to be held May 19 through May 25.

Tothe, the tournament’s director, seemed energized.

“For me, this is the time of the year that you’ve put eight, nine or 10 months working on, and we’re at the finish line,” he said. “We are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”

Convincing clients to join the tournament takes effort, Tothe said, because with 45 events on the PGA Tour there are many choices.

“It’s constantly educating the best golfers in the world that they need to come and play in Fort Worth, Texas,” he said.

Earlier this week, about 100 golfers, including 2013 champion Boo Weekley, were listed for the invitational. Tothe held the name list as if it were a masterpiece.

The Colonial, which began in 1946, separates itself from other events, Tothe said, by giving each member a brand new Cadillac, provided by the Metroplex Cadillac Dealers Association, and also taking care of details like picking up dry cleaning and event tickets.

And then there's the $6.4 million purse.

“It’s about an 11 million dollar business that we focus on year round,” he said.

About 100,000 people are expected to attend the tournament, which generates about $7.8 million for charities, Tothe said. And the club’s most recent economic study showed an impact of $33 million in North Texas.

The Colonial hires about 200 temporary staff members for its golf tournament, Tothe said. Many of those are returning temporary staffers as well as college students.

“We use a lot of students,” he said. “Working Colonial seems to be a tradition for them.”

TCU alumnus Britt Todd handles public relations and marketing for the event.

"Something I have heard on more than one occasion is 'Colonial, Ben Hogan and Fort Worth' is a mystique in the international pro golf community that is known around the world,” he said. “There is no other tournament on the PGA Tour like Colonial. We are very lucky to have this prestigious and historic event in our hometown."

Chef Tim Love, who operates several local restaurants including Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Woodshed Smokehouse and White Elephant Saloon will handle the tournament’s catering and concessions.

“It’s Tim Love’s first year,” Tothe said, “We feel pretty good about it.”

Love wrote in an email that he is thrilled as well as honored to be the event’s hospitality provider and wants to bring guests the freshest ingredients made with big, bold flavors.

“We had fun adding our own twists to classic dishes like our Famous Colonial Chicken Sandy and Perfect Fries, jazzed up with truffle and parmesan,” he wrote. “This is such a fun week, and we wanted the menu to echo that.”

Love, who says his cooking is much better than his golf game, will have more than 600 employees staffing the event.

During Colonial Week, there will be several road closures in the vicinity.

In addition, builders are putting finishing touches on Frost Park located at Colonial Parkway and University Drive, which Tothe said will have a soft opening Monday and be open with all of its amenities on Wednesday.

The Frost Park concert series, one of the tournament’s many events, begins Thursday and will run through Saturday. Warm-up bands start at 7 p.m. followed by headliners at 8 p.m. The lineup includes Pardi Gras on Thursday, Reckless Kelly on Friday, and Old 97’s will perform Saturday night.

“All the [Frost Park] activities are free to the community,” he said. “You don’t need a ticket to attend.”

Creating a more valuable experience for golf fans is something employees at Colonial think about every day, Tothe said.

“This is fun. This is what we live for,” he said. “We are excited about the product we are about to unveil.”

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