After an exciting WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play event saw Dustin Johnson beating up-and-coming stud Jon Rahm, the PGA Tour remains in Texas ahead of ‘A Tradition Unlike Any Other’ next week.
This week’s Shell Houston Open takes place at the recently renamed Golf Club of Houston (formerly Redstone Golf Club). Built in 2003 across a wooded landscape in Houston’s suburbs, the club boasts 36 holes of championship-caliber golf. The Member Course hosted the pros from 2003-2006, and the newer Tournament Course has been the host since 2006. The 7,457-yard, par-72 layout was carved out of woodlands lush with oak, pine and cypress trees.
Designed especially to host a PGA Tour event by renowned architect Rees Jones and player consultant David Toms, the course setup as been tweaked over the past few years to give a proper tune-up for what players might expect at Augusta National. For example, organizers heavily overseeded the Bermuda greens with bentgrass/rye to approximate ANGC’s bentgrass. Additionally, they mow the fairways toward the tee boxes, speed up the greens (at least 13 on the Stimpmeter) and shave the runoff areas around the greens.
As stated on the club’s website, “Rees Jones, course architect, was instrumental with incorporating a beautiful yet challenging layout designed to test the best players in the world while maintaining a positive experience for players of all skill levels.”
Free of commercial or residential real estate development, the course has abundant native plants and wildlife, while also making room for spectators easy. Also, one of only 11 public, daily fee, golf clubs the Tour plays during the year, anyone is welcome to give it a go on this brute of a layout. With more than half the holes having some sort of water or marsh in play, the fairways may be generous, but players can’t afford to miss in the wrong direction.
Holes To Watch
Hole 5: The No. 1 handicap hole on the course is a 480-yard par 4 that requires a solid drive across the edge of a lake. Once that has been navigated appropriately players are left with needing a precise approach into a green that is protected left and front-left by a large bunker. If players get nervous carrying the bunker and leave it out to the right there’s a tightly-mowed chipping hollow that sits right of the green.
Hole 8: A definite birdie and potential eagle opportunity, as two well-played shots will reach this deep and receptive par-5 green. However, bogey is also a possibility, as the fairway approach narrows considerably into the green and is flanked by the lake on the right and a cluster of deep sand bunkers on the left.
Hole 18: A challenging and dramatic finishing hole. With a lake bordering the entire left side of the hole, the tee shot challenges the golfer to carry as much water as possible, while also avoiding the large sculptured bunker along the right of the fairway landing area. And as a final salvo the approach is to a green that is entirely protected on the left by water and a bunker on the right.