The Greener Side of Houston

Littered with soaring skyscrapers, congested roadways and Fortune 500 companies (24; second only to New York City), Houston is one of America’s busiest business destinations. This concrete jungle has a population of over 2 million, and despite a down economy in 2009, attracted nearly a half million convention delegates.

But beneath that heavy metal corporate exterior, you’ll find ample opportunity for recreation. Deep down Houston is a sports town. With franchises in three major professional sports (Rockets, Texans and Astros), plus a Major League Soccer team (bring your vuvuzela), there is something for every taste to enjoy.

The Greener Side of Houston

The same can be said for the traveler who enjoys a good round of golf; whether they’re in town for business, pleasure, or both. With more than 150 golf courses, Houston has a selection of historic and modern tracks. And every April private Redstone Golf Club hosts the Shell Houston Open, which has morphed into a tune-up for The Masters.

The sheer size of the Bayou City (634 square miles) can be daunting. Selecting just one golf course to escape to when you’ve got a few hours to kill between speeches and power point presentations is a chore in itself. From sleepy, yet highlyrated layouts built into downtown park systems to hidden gems on the outskirts of the city, a rewarding round awaits in almost every direction. Here’s a front nine of courses worth sampling during your visit.

Memorial Park Golf Course

Host of the Houston Open from 1951 to 1963, Memorial Park Golf Course is part of the largest urban park in Texas. Rated as one of the top municipal courses in the state of Texas every year, this historic track is wide-open, walkable and affords golfers with great city views. It’s a “must play” if there ever were one. This muni was as also voted most accommodating course for women by the Houston Chronicle.

Redstone Golf Club - Tournament Course

Runaway winner of the Houston Chronicle’s award for place to play if money were no object, Redstone is one of the most dynamic layouts in all of Texas. During its stint as host of the Shell Houston, the course has identified winners like Anthony Kim and Paul Casey. Greens fees are substantial at The Tournament Course, but that’s what you pay to play one of only 11 PGA Tour venues open to the public. Designed by “Open Doctor” Rees Jones and player consultant and Louisiana native David Toms, the golf club is 16 miles from downtown Houston and just five miles from George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Tour 18

Readers of the Houston Chronicle voted this tribute to 18 of the best holes on the PGA Tour as the place to take outof-towners. Tour 18 is part Bay Hill, part Harbour Town, part Augusta National… you get the picture. It’s open to the public, and the novelty alone makes for an entertaining day on the links.

BlackHorse Golf Club

Known as one of the most challenging layouts in Greater Houston, Black-Horse offers 36 holes of championship golf designed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy. The course provides six different tee placements and is located just 30-40 minutes from downtown.

Eagle Pointe

Located about 30 minutes east of downtown Houston, the 7,077-yard par-71 Eagle Pointe is situated on a serene, unusually undulating piece of property that starkly contrasts with the relatively flat layouts common to this part of the country. Scenic and affordable, Eagle Pointe is worth the trek to tiny Mont Belvieu.

Wildcat Golf Club

The official golf course of Houston’s professional sports franchises, Wildcat Golf Club is situated on 500-plus acres rife with dramatic elevation changes. The hilly terrain creates a bunch of blind shots, which people tend to love or hate. On the positive side, elevated tee boxes present some spectacular city views. The course is just a short drive from downtown Houston.

Timber Creek Golf Club

An interesting mix of trees, gently rolling terrain and omnipresent Clear Creek can take you to the Carolinas in your mind. The 27-hole facility is just 30 minutes south of Houston, enabling you to quickly return to the city in reality.

River Ridge Golf Club

Featuring some of the best greens in Texas, River Ridge is a beauty on the banks of the Brazos River. This layout located just west of Katy employs three distinct nines inspired by the game’s classic courses. River Ridge is an extremely fair course, and will reward good shots. It’s also extremely scenic, with lush surroundings and no homes.

The Battleground at Deer Park

A history lesson and a heck of a value, The Battleground at Deer Park is adjacent to the site of the famous Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution where General Sam Houston and the Texas Army defeated the Mexican Army, giving birth to the Republic of Texas. It’s also known for providing customers with a championship-level experience for a fraction of the cost.

 

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