Cover Story – CJ Cup Byron Nelson & Charles Schwab Challenge

Cover Story – CJ Cup Byron Nelson & Charles Schwab Challenge


The CJ CUP Byron Nelson is happening a couple weeks earlier than normal this year. So, rather than focus our attention on a preview of the tournament as we would normally do, we wanted to spotlight the Salesmanship Club and the Momentous Institute, both of which are critical to the CJ CUP Byron Nelson’s success. If you have ever been on property for the Nelson during tournament week and noticed the people wearing the red pants, well, those are members of the Salesmanship Club. 

Momentous Institute, founded by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas in 1920, exists to build a world of emotionally thriving people through innovative mental health services, education, and professional training. Momentous Institute directly serves over 7,800 children and families each year through its nationally acclaimed Momentous School and innovative mental health services.

Momentous Institute specializes in accessible, trauma-informed, culturally responsive, family-based mental health services for young people and their families.

With over 600 members, the Institute is dedicated to innovative mental health services, education and professional training to strengthen children, families and communities. Since their partnership began, the CJ CUP Byron Nelson and Momentous have generated more than $185 million to provide services and care to families in need. The club is on a path to strengthen the lives of more than 1,000,000 families by 2031. 

In addition, Momentous School also benefits from the Nelson’s generosity. Momentous School is a nationally acclaimed laboratory school providing pre-kindergarten 3 through 5th grade education. Using decades of research and smaller classroom settings, the school’s strengths-based approach places academic achievement on par with emotional learning. 

AG spoke with James Esquivel, the 2024 Tournament Chairman, about the Salesmanship Club and their commitment to Momentous Institute. 

AVIDGOLFER: Is this your first time as the tournament chair?

James Esquivel: Yes. I have been with the Salesmanship Club for 18 years, but this is my first opportunity as tournament chair. It is a rotating seat, so I will have the seat for a year and then someone else will hold it down next year. 

AG: How has the experience been so far?

JE: We have a new fantastic sponsor with CJ Group, and they have been great partners and friends. They made 10-year commitment to the tournament and the Tour, and we are really excited, but they have been great to work with. 

AG: How has the relationship been with TPC Craig Ranch since the Nelson moved up there a few years ago?

JE: It has been unbelievable for us. This our fourth year at Craig Ranch, and the city of McKinney, Invited Clubs and David Craig have been absolutely amazing to work with. 

AG: The Nelson is the only tournament on Tour that sends every penny earned to a charity, correct?

JE: That’s right. Every dollar we make goes directly to Momentous Institute. The Salesmanship Club has been around raising money for families and the community since 1920, but Momentous is our sole beneficiary from the tournament, and we’re super proud that all those dollars stay here in north Texas and go to those families here locally.

AG: Being a non-elevated event and given that the tournament is a couple weeks early this year, how has that presented a challenge for you as far as the field goes?

JE: We are thrilled with the commitments we got. Jason Day returned as champion, and we had a lot of the local guys, like Jordan Spieth and Will Zalatoris, as well. It has been a little more challenging with the event being non-elevated, but we love the guys we draw, and we love our fans coming out to support them all. 

We also wanted to hear more about Momentous Institute from Dr. Jessica Gomez, who is the Executive Director at Momentous. 

AVIDGOLFER: Tell us a little bit about Momentous Institute. 

Jessica Gomez: We are a 104-year-old non-profit that focuses on mental health of children and families. We do that in many ways. We offer mental health services for children and families that may not have access through our Dallas campuses and telehealth services. We also have an elementary school that equally prioritizes core academics and nurturing social and emotional health. We also offer professional training for professionals that work with children, and that is year-round work that we do here, across the country and then in four other countries. 

AG: What is so special about your partnership with the Byron Nelson?

JG: It’s the biggest fundraiser that helps us do this work year-round. The Salesmanship Club is out there volunteering to make sure this is a world-class event. It is also a way for us to elevate the message on mental health. 

AG: May is mental health awareness month, isn’t that right?

JG: Yes. It sure is. You will hear a lot about mental health and the green ribbon campaign because May is mental health month, and that is why we love having the tournament this time of year. 

AG: As someone who has worked as a health professional for so long, how satisfying is it for you to see that there is less of a stigma surrounding mental health as opposed to in the past where it was something people weren’t as open about?

JG: It is an absolute game-changer. From the community, to even the professional golfers being open about their mental health, it makes it easier for children or anyone who is struggling to ask for help. I believe we are truly saving lives because it gives us an opportunity to see our mental health as a part of our general health. 

AG: Do you make it to the tournament?

JG: Absolutely. We will be there all week. We will also have our students out there, so the red pants and the players can get a good look at what they are supporting. 

AG: Anything else you do during the tournament week?

JG: Every year we host a free event for the north Texas community; we host a metal health essentials training event at the Collin College Frisco campus which will help cultivate wellness and mental health. 

AG: What would you tell someone that might be struggling with mental health that is hesitant to take that first step toward mental wellness?

JG: There is proven help and techniques that can help you cope with anything you may be dealing with. Whether it’s depression, anxiety or loss you’re dealing with, you can reach out to a mental health professional. And if you aren’t quite ready to take that step and just want resources, you can go to Momentous Institute’s website and we have plenty of information for you in a very digestible form. 


The 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge was another great event for the City of Fort Worth, the fans and the charities that benefit from the tournament. It was also the final time we got to see the old Colonial Country Club, as they broke ground on a multi-million-dollar renovation as soon as the final putt was holed by Emiliano Grillo. The Gil Hanse renovation project has been full throttle ever since, and early returns suggest that this new incarnation of CCC will be absolutely spectacular. Players and fans alike have been waiting to see the new course, and in just a couple weeks, we will all get to see the big reveal as the Schwab returns for 2024. 

What are some of the course changes you’ll see?

Well, for starters, the entire course has been re-sodded with new turf and irrigation systems have been updated and brought up to today’s agronomy standards. Although the routing remains mostly intact, many greens have been lowered to ground level, allowing for more short-game creativity. Some bunkering has been altered, as well, and the left side of No. 5 now features a large waste area that can penalize players for avoiding the Trinity at all costs. No. 7 green has been backed up to the river’s edge and the tee box moved back, adding distance and giving this once mundane par 4 some additional teeth. No. 8 green has been shifted to the left, bringing a small tributary of the Trinity in play, making this tee shot more intriguing. Another major par-3 change comes on No. 16, where the green has been shifted left and the guarding pond expanded to make this a more unique and challenging iron shot. One major change fans will notice immediately when they arrive on property is the removal of drainage culverts that ran between No. 17 and No. 18, all of which have been returned to a natural look. This change also runs all the way across No. 10 fairway, giving the par-4 10th a different feel. The changes didn’t do much to alter the architecture of the course, but the playability around greens should be more friendly, and the added distance balances out the simplified green complexes. 

Who’s going to be in the field (as of 4-26)?

There are plenty of great players in the field for the Charles Schwab Challenge in 2024. Defending champ Emiliano Grillo will return in 2024, coming off his 2023 playoff victory over Adam Schenk, who also returns to the field this year. 

Other past champions in the field at this year’s Schwab Challenge include 1997 champ David Frost, Chris Kirk, the 2015 winner and 2017 champion Kevin Kisner. More past champs are expected to commit as tournament week draws closer. In addition, local favorites Tom Hoge and Ryan Palmer are scheduled to appear, along with notable young guns and 2024 Tour winners Jake Knapp and Nick Dunlap. 

If you’re looking for some other fan favorites, then there are plenty of those to go around, too. One of the stars of the Netflix series Full Swing, Joel Dahmen, also comes to the new Colonial this year, alongside the always fan-friendly Rickie Fowler and last year’s PGA Championship darling Michael Block. 

For the Texas Longhorns fans in attendance, Doug Ghim and Beau Hossler will be hookin’ ‘em in 2024. 

If I get tickets, where should I take in the golf action?

Colonial has got to be toward the top of the list of best spectator courses on Tour. Even though there are a lot of changes, the overall viewing experience shouldn’t change much. As always, No. 13 is a great spot to take in the action. Although it has become more of a corporate hospitality area over the years, watching the players fire one over the water to the green is always a great spot to view the action. The area behind 18 is also a solid spot to watch the pros come in and finish up their rounds. The new No. 9 will again be must-watch as players navigate the tricky approach. If you enjoy the long ball, then find a spot behind the 11th tee and check out the free swings as the big hitters rip one off the tee on the only par 5 on the inward nine. The great thing about Colonial is the small footprint of the property. You can easily walk from No. 5 tee to No. 15 tee, which are on total opposite sides of the course, in just 15 minutes or so. That makes it easy to get from hole to hole without wearing yourself out. And don’t forget to pop in the pro shop for some swag, as it is open to the public. 

What’s the ticket situation?

General admission tickets provide fans with the ability to walk the entire course, including the practice facilities, gain access to all public venues including the Fan Shop and Schwab’s The 5 Performance Center, purchase food and beverages throughout the course and stand right along the rope line to watch the world’s best PGA TOUR players.

Flexible tickets are now available, good any round, Wednesday-Sunday. Discounted, day-specific tickets on Wednesday and Sunday are available. Food and drinks are available for purchase at any one of the food and beverage locations on the course, including the new Food Truck depot at the driving range. Those are just $85.

The Mizzen + Main Patio Club ticket is also an option. It’s the only in-clubhouse, premium hospitality ticket available to the tournament, plus all food and bar is included. This ticket is the ultimate VIP experience inside Colonial as a member for a day in the Patio Club. Indoor and outdoor patio seating offer commanding views of the course. This option will run $575 per day. 

There is also a Villages Ticket available. This option offers full access for viewing, dining and drinks in the Palmer Village at No. 13, NEW Hogan Village at 17 Green/18 Tee, and the Grillo Michelob ULTRA Athletic Club Village at 8/9/12. These are $325 per round.