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A Family-Friendly Guide to the Colonial

Cowtown’s premier golf event is back with a new name for its 72nd year: The Fort Worth Invitational, affectionately still called the Colonial after the country club where all the action takes place.
And though the tournament makes a great date option, it can also be a fun outing for the whole family—especially if you do it right. Read on for everything you need to know about taking your kids to the tournament: when to go, what to bring and even how to score autographs from your favorite players.
Where: Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth
When: Fort Worth Invitational May 24–27 (Thursday–Sunday); Pro-Am tournament May 23 (Wednesday); course open May 21–22 (Monday–Tuesday)
Single-day tickets: $50 adults; $15 ages 13–17; free for age 12 and younger. Purchase tickets and see VIP package options here. No tickets required on Monday or Tuesday.
Parking: There are multiple paid lots with shuttle service to the course; the least expensive are Rockwood Lane and Farrington Field (though construction around the latter makes getting there tricky—turn on Crestline from University Drive). Each costs $15 online in advance or $20 at the gate, and bring a few ones to tip your shuttle driver. Click here to see maps of all your parking options.
If you can, go before the main event actually starts—that means Tuesday (when players are out practicing) or Wednesday (during the Pro-Am tournament). On Tuesday, you’ll pay nothing to park or enter the tournament, and you’ll avoid the big crowds, meaning your kiddos can get closer to the action—and to the players themselves. During practice rounds, the golfers aren’t on the clock, so they’re able to spend more time signing autographs and chatting with young patrons.
Any day you go, including tournament days, aim for morning—despite the trees that shade much of the course, it’s usually hot and humid (and the forecast for this week looks even hotter than usual). Head’s up: Jordan Spieth tees off at 8:06am from the 10th tee on Thursday, and at 1:06pm from No. 1 on Friday.
The PGA Tour has a long list of what you can and can’t bring to tournaments, but here are the highlights of what you can’t, can and really should bring:

  • Leave your stylish tote at home—only small purses and small diaper bags allowed (unless your bag is see-through).
  • Strollers, bottles and other baby supplies are OK as long as you bring baby too.
  • Do bring collapsible chairs (sans bags)—the grandstands are not always shaded, and bringing your own chairs gives you more freedom to choose where you want to watch the action. Pre-tournament days, these are not as necessary.
  • No drinks or coolers, but you can bring food in a clear gallon bag to whip out when the kiddos get hangry. There are also concession stands all over the course with meals, snacks and cold treats. (Lemon Chill, anyone?)
  • Bring sunscreen, and lots of it. Hats and sunglasses too. And trust me, one of those handheld fan-slash-mister things wouldn’t go unused.
  • Lightweight, moisture-wicking, comfy clothes and comfortable walking shoes. You can’t rent a cart, sorry.
  • Something to get autographed—or you can buy some signable merch at the tournament. The players carry their own pens.

Take a look at the course map. The entrance is at the far east end of the course, and it’s a decent walk to get to the center of all the activity around Main Street (an enclosed merch area equipped with food and fans). But on pre-tournament days, it’s worth the trek to watch the pros on the practice putting greens—you and the kiddos can perch just feet away. Nearby, No. 9 green and No. 18 green afford autograph opportunities as players finish their practice rounds. All you have to do is stand nearby with something to sign, and the pros will often come to you, Sharpies out.
On tournament days, this area is also where kids can gather in the official autograph area to solicit signatures, but their chances of success are more limited. If it’s autographs you want, go on Tuesday. (Have I said that already?)
While you’ll hear a lot of hoopla about the Famous 13th Hole (aka the party hole on tournament days), it’s a really long walk from the entrance, and generally better suited for those of legal drinking age. Instead, keep north and east, where fewer people and less walking make for happier kids. Here are some spots we recommend:

  • The juncture of No. 8 green, No. 9 tee, No. 11 green and No. 12 tee, directly north of the Main Street area. You’ll find restrooms, concessions, shade and a lot fewer people, so your kiddos can see what’s happening without having to sit on your shoulders. No. 11 green in particular has close viewing opportunities, plus an electronic scoreboard.
  • No. 1 green and No. 2 tee—another shady area in a quiet corner of the course. No 1 green is guarded by bunkers, so you may get to see some exciting sand saves.
  • No. 3 green and No. 4 tee. This area is just off the main entrance, close to restrooms, concessions and the practice range, where you can watch the pros warm up before they tee off.

Restrooms are all over the course, including air-conditioned restroom trailers (not just porta-potties). One of these trailers is centrally located in the Main Street area. If you need a break to breastfeed, the first aid stations near No. 6 tee and No. 10 fairway have nursing areas.
There are two sites worth browsing: the official tournament site and the PGA Tour site.