Houston Open coming to Memorial Park

PGA fans get ready. In case you haven’t heard, the Houston Open is coming to Memorial Park in 2020. The Houston City Council unanimously approved a $13.5 million plan to renovate the Memorial Park Golf Course.

Houston was in jeopardy of losing the Open, which began in 1946, before a group headed by Astros Owner and Chairman Jim Cranesuccessfully spearheaded efforts to not only keep the tournament in Houston, but to improve it. The tournament will be primarily underwritten by the Astros Foundation, per an agreement between the foundation and the PGA Tour. The agreement is for five years (2019–23).

The 2019 Houston Open will be played Oct. 7-13 at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble. It will move to Memorial Park in 2020 at a date to be determined.

The golf course will close during renovation, scheduled to begin next month, pending permit approvals. It would reopen by fall of 2019 if all goes as planned. The plan includes construction of a two-story driving range, a new and relocated maintenance facility and a short course for the first tee.

City officials said the improvements to the public course will not result in a fee increase for users.

The Astros Golf Foundation will make minimum donations each year of $1.0 million to the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and $500,000 to the First Tee of Greater Houston, a non-profit organization that encourages youth to be active with the game of golf, via the PGA Tour. All other net proceeds will be distributed throughout the Houston community by the Astros Foundation. 

“Our goal is to work hard and establish a first-class tournament that one day will be considered one of the best on Tour,” Crane said. “This tournament will benefit the City of Houston in many ways, creating revenue for the business community as well as generating significant dollars each year for the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and for the First Tee of Greater Houston. 

“We appreciate the great support that we have received from so many for this tournament, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, City Council, the PGA Tour, Escalante Golf and the Memorial Park Conservancy.

 “We will be able to raise a lot of funds for the city through the golf tournament that will go to charity in Houston, and there will be about $90 million in revenue that comes into the city with the tournament being held downtown,” Crane continued.

Mayor Sylvester Turner was elated about the event.

“This is a positive step for Memorial Park and all of Houston,” Turner said. “I am grateful to the Astros Foundation and other stakeholders/ Memorial Park will be the future home of the Houston Open and that’s exciting. 

“We want Houston to be in the top tier of conversation across the board, and in order for that to happen, you have to have things occurring within your city that people will focus on around the country. 

“Now that this item has passed, I also want people to know that I am committed to finding resources to upgrade our neighborhood parks along with the funds committed through this agreement,” Turner said

For Johnnie McFarland, president of Lone Star Golf Association, the upgrades to Memorial Park have historical significance. 

 “We held our first golf tournament there in1946, so you could say we have a shared history,” McFarland said. “We’re excited to see the Open coming back to Memorial. You could say that we at LSGA are your average golfers, so to see a PGA event come to a public course is huge. “

Houston OpenTournamentDirector Colby Callaway said the event will have a new look and feel.

 “In addition to featuring an attractive field of golfers, we will also be adding some new elements for our spectators, including musical entertainment and a tailgate zone,” he said. “The Houston Open will have a purse [$7.5 million] that will make it the premier fall event on the PGA Tour in the USA.”