Big news hits Houston, golf fans. Architect Tom Doak will renovate the popular municipal Memorial Park Golf Course with the goal of hosting the Houston Open by the 2020 championship.
Today, Memorial Park is one of the busiest municipal courses in the country, regularly logging over 60,000 rounds a year. The current John Bredemus design hosted the Houston Open in 1947 and from 1951-1963. A move to Memorial Park, and away from the private and suburban Golf Club of Houston (where it’s currently held), would give the tournament a city center venue on an affordable public golf course.
The Memorial Park Golf Course redesign is the latest in a series of Houston Open-related moves orchestrated by Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and the Astros Foundation. After Shell dropped its sponsorship of the annual PGA Tour event, the Astros Foundation stepped in as sponsor to keep the event on the Tour schedule. Crane’s current plan is to have the Houston Open sponsored by 8-10 local companies moving forward. A fundamental piece of this plan is bringing the tournament back into the city and Memorial Park Golf Course.
The current design stretches over 7,300 yards on a relatively flat property with natural ravines.
The Memorial Park news comes on the heels of Doak being tapped for the latest Sand Valley course and will offer the renowned architect a new challenge. While his design at The Renaissance Club, in East Lothian, will host the European PGA Tour’s 2019 & 2020 Scottish Opens, this will be Doak’s first design project with a regular professional tournament in mind, and the first PGA Tour event to take place on a Doak design.
Doak told The Fried Egg, “I’ve always been interested in doing a course for the Tour players, especially the more people say, ‘Oh he’s not the guy to do that, that’s not his thing.’ And especially the more people say, ‘It can’t be done. They hit it so far now it’s impossible. You just have to build entirely separate courses for them.’ You can’t take that cop-out here. It’s still going to be a municipal course that plays 60,000 rounds the other 51 weeks of the year.”
Doak and Renaissance Golf Design will work with a world number one and three-time major champion Brooks Koepka on the project.
The Memorial Park project is great news for municipal golf and the PGA Tour. The country’s fourth largest city will get a refreshed, affordable municipal course designed by one of golf architecture’s best. The Tour will get a new city center venue and what is sure to be an interesting design. More to come on Memorial Park and Tom Doak’s redesign soon on both The Fried Egg podcast and newsletter.