BOB WEST ON GOLF — Astros Foundation earns good reviews on Memorial Park
A couple of months ahead of schedule, the new and probably forever home of the Houston Open — Memorial Park — was swarming with dignitaries, celebrities and invited guests Monday to celebrate what Jim Crane and the Houston Astros Golf Foundation has bestowed upon the Bayou City.
Mr. Golf in the city of Houston — 96-year-old Jack Burke Jr. — was a part of the festivities. So were baseball Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Roger Clemens. Providing a Golden Triangle touch were PNG exes Chris Stroud and Braden Bailey, as well as singer Tracy Byrd.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch was there. So was former Houston Rockets great Clyde Drexler. And former Oiler QB Dan Pastorini. About all that was missing was the World Series trophy, which somehow wound up in Washington D.C.
With Houston mayor Sylvester Turner leading the cheers, the new and improved Memorial Park was unveiled. And, by all accounts, it was a spectacular re-introduction for the old, well-worn muny layout that’s become a modern-day Cinderella thanks to an $18.5 million facelift from noted architect Tom Doak.
Doak, with consultation from world No. 1 Brooks Kopeka, upgraded Memorial Park from just another golf course to one that is PGA Tour worthy. All involved will be anxious to hear the reviews when Kopeka, and what is likely to be a strong field of his peers, show up for the 2020 Houston Open.
The $18.5 million price tag, by the way, is a figure in flux. Roughly $12 million more of Astros Foundation money is still to be spent on clubhouse and other facility improvements. Part of that will be a two-tiered, 84-bay driving range.
Bailey, who in attendance after receiving a letter of invitation from Crane following his strong showing in the final HO at the Golf Club of Houston, came away impressed.
“I think it’s great,” he said. “It had been several years since I played there, and I didn’t remember much about the course, but what they have now is outstanding. I was especially impressed with the par 3s, several of the green complexes and the three finishing holes.
“I believe it is going to be well received by tour players. How it compares in toughness to the Golf Club of Houston will depend on what they do with the rough. There is more room off the tee, but there is a lot more slope around the greens.”
CHIP SHOTS: There is no professional golf on any level involving Southeast Texas this week. Andrew Landry and Chris Stroud, neither of whom have helped
themselves in the fall portion of the PGA Tour schedule, will be back in action next week at the Mayacoba Classic in Mexico.
Stroud, who is 186 in Fed Ex points, has had some big moments in that event, and owns three top five finishes. Landry, currently tied for 157 on the Fed Ex list, has only played Mayacoba thrice, missing the cut twice and withdrawing after a first-round 69 in 2017.
Lamar ex Shawn Stefani, who has conditional status on the PGA Tour and won’t have access to many of the more popular events, had a strong showing in last week’s Bermuda Classic. Stefani fired four rounds in the 60s to finish T11, earn $66,750 and earn enough Fed Ex points to climb to No. 113 . . .
Bailey, for those who may have missed up, came up three shots shy of advancing through the Korn Ferry Second State qualifier last week at TPC Craig Ranch. In an event hampered by cold, damp conditions, Braden shot four-under-par 284 . . .
The team of Mike Brown, Chuck Perro, Roger Baumer and Paul Duplantis scored a sweep in the Monday Senior 50 Plus 2 ball at Babe Zaharias. The Brown team shot minus 6 on the front and minus 4 on the back . . .
In the Super Saturday 2 ball at Zaharias, the team of Joe Gongora, Bim Morrow, Harry Green and a ghost player won the front with minus 1. Minus 1 was also the winning score on the back for the foursome of Adam Davis, Lee Bertrand, Cole Lee and Duplantis . . .
The Wednesday Zaharias DogFight was won with 15 points by the team of James Cady, Ron Mistrot, Don MacNeil and Keith Marshall. Teams captained by Gongora and Ted Freeman tied for second with 14 points.
Closest to the pin winners were Kenny Robbins (No. 7) and Morrow (No. 12) . . .
Because it dries out faster than other area courses, lending to fewer days of cart-path only, Babe Zaharias has been getting heavy play from the Beaumont crowd. On Monday, Oct. 28, Zaharias did a near record 225 rounds. From Friday through Monday, it topped 400.
It doesn’t hurt, either, that Zaharias’ greens are in peak condition once again . . .
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