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Monday, May 27, 2013

The Middle-Class Kentucky Derby

The place to be on Memorial Day weekend in Fort
Worth is The Colonial. (Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Normally, the marquee sporting event in the month of May, at least for high-society types, is the Kentucky Derby. The Bluegrass State’s upper class traditionally flocks to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, and you can count on every network’s early-Saturday-morning sort-of-news program—be it Today, FOX & Friends or Good Morning America—to send at least one of their reporters out to Louisville to educate their viewers about the right bourbon to buy.
Here in the Metroplex, however, our social/sporting event of the month takes place toward the end. It doesn’t involve horses or a bed of roses, and it lasts a hell or a lot longer. But it’s a magnificent spectacle, and I like it.
Since 1946, the pros have come to Fort Worth's Colonial Golf Club for one of the PGA's five annaul "invitational" tournaments. For decades, it was known simply as the Colonial National Invitational Tournament. Now it's the "Crown Plaza Invitational," but not even crass corporate sponsorship can mar this major event, rich as it is in history and tradition. It's our Kentucky Derby, but with less pretense and more walking.
Forget the mint julep. The traditional beverage here is the frozen margarita. And, you likely won’t find women sporting ridiculously gaudy hats, but you will get an idea of what the appropriate attire is for those who want to spend the day outside in the hot, humid climate without looking like a slob.
There’s no "Millionaire's Row" here, either (unless you count the houses on Country Club Circle); celebrities who show up, and there are a few, are forced to watch alongside the common folk. (Yes, "VIP guests" get special treatment, such as access to the 19th Hole Lounge, but if you want to see the pros golf up close and in person, then you'll have to find a spot outside the ropes just like any other spectator.)

Businesses with high-end products/services to hock have recognized that the Colonial presents a fantastic marketing opportunity. In recent years, they've taken to setting up tents at the tournament with chairs, refreshments and air conditioning to lure in their target demographic. Call it a sales pitch, but it's the most pleasant and comfortable sales pitch I've ever experienced.

Local charities and other causes--everything from high school booster clubs to Harris Methodist to the Girl Scouts--man the concession stands. Patrons, including yours truly, are more willing to pay the egregiously marked-up fare if the profits go to a good cause.
This year, the attendees were disappointed that local favorites Jordan Spieth and J.J. Henry didn't do better, but Boo Weekley's victory was by no means unwelcome.

That's all well and good, you may think, but what does any of this have to do with Memorial Day? Is the purpose of this day not to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country? Well, as it so happens, the Colonial offers free admission to military personnel and their families through Carswell AFB, so there!
If you live in or near the Metroplex and have never been to the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial, then you absolutely must go, whether or not you can get in for free.
Finally, because it is Memorial Day, Right-wing_Genius would like you to watch this video (if you haven't already), featuring his grandmother and one of my very dear friends. Thank you to all who have served our country at home and abroad.

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