Location: Humble, Texas
Course architect: Rees Jones and David Toms
Tee – Yardage l Rating / Slope:
Tournament – 7,425 l 76.0 / 144
Member – 6,569 l 71.7 / 137
Forward – 5,371 l 71.3 / 125
Forward – 6,084 l 74.5 / 131
Saturday morning green fee: $$$ ($100-$149)
Caddie service: Yes
Walker friendly: Yes
Fairways: TifSport Bermudagrass (overseeded for the winter with perennial ryegrass)
Greens: MiniVerde Bermudagrass (overseeded for the winter with bentgrass and Poa trivialis)
Starter: Houston’s golf pedigree runs deep, and much of the 21st-century chapter has been written at the Golf Club of Houston in the city’s sprawling northern suburbs. The PGA Tour has been coming to the 36-hole club annually since 2003. Since 2007, the tournament has preceded the Masters, with the shtick of a course setup that mirrors Augusta National’s fast and firm track. That might be a lofty bar to clear, but the PGA Tour guys know a quality tuneup for a major championship when they see one. Make some time before or after the round to browse the Houston Open artifacts in Harmon Hall, named for the late instructor Dick Harmon, one of Claude’s teaching sons and a former director of golf when the club was known as Redstone. At $110 on a Saturday morning, the course is a relative bargain for a Tour stop.
Play because … : If you enjoy a big ballpark – the 36-hole complex sits on 900 acres of woodlands and wetlands – the Golf Club of Houston is worth a visit. The Member Course, a private 2003 Jim Hardy-Peter Jacobsen design, hosted the Houston Open from 2003 to 2006, before the adjacent Tournament Course, which is open to public play, took over. Even if you play neither course, the practice facility, with its double-ended range and nine target areas, could engage a serious golfer for the better part of a day. It’s that good. Then again, this complex – originally known as Redstone Golf Club – was built for players, whether they be members, visitors or card-carrying members of the PGA Tour.
Takeaway: The Tournament Course sits on a relatively flat parcel that is bisected by the Greens Bayou, which funnels water from north Houston to Galveston Bay. Trouble abounds amid the numerous lakes and forested areas of live oak, cypress and pine. The rollicking greens complexes average nearly 7,000 square feet and pose unyielding challenges worthy of a Tour event. Even if the Houston Open, which lacks a title sponsor this year, doesn’t return and leaves the nation’s fourth-largest city without a Tour stop for the first time since 1949, the Golf Club of Houston will endure as one of Texas’ top golf destinations.
RATINGS [1 to 10 scale, 10 being the highest]
Food l Beverage: 9.0
Pro shop: 9.5
Course difficulty: 9.0
Pace of play: 8.0
Best par 3: No. 7 (173 l 145 l 96 yards). The shortest hole on the course features a contoured green with a variety of hole locations to change club selection and approach strategy. Water left and bunkers short right and long place a premium on the tee shot.
Best par 4: No. 17 (487 l 417 l 372 yards). This is the beginning of a finishing 1-2 punch with two brutal par 4s. Big hitters will carry the left fairway bunker, leaving a shorter approach over a native area and onto a well-bunkered green. Play this hole well and you just might have enough moxie to finish strongly on the 18th.
Best par 5: No. 4 (565 l 517 l 429 yards). This hole, guarded left by water and right by woods, stands out for its green complex. The greenside bunker right catches many approaches from timid players eager to play away from the water. Be mindful of the spine running down the middle of the green, because landing on the wrong side of it can turn a seemingly OK approach shot into a cross-country putt.