Ken nominated the Champions Golf Club as a gem back in July 2008. Since then the Cypress Creek course has been elevated to a Texas Best In State ranked course. Ken’s original nomination comments are as follows:
“You should consider adding Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas to the Top 100 website. It’s a storied course that has hosted big events that just drips with golf history and culture. Jackie Burke and Jimmy Demaret were the co-founders and knew how to establish a great club. Champions has two courses and a men’s locker room atmosphere that is unrivalled. The Cypress Creek Course is the one that has hosted the Ryder Cup, US Open and several PGA Tour Championship events and has been in and out of many Top 100 US lists over the years. It’s very old school… even in Texas and I was a member for several years while living there and would give the course 5 or 5.5 balls based on your player review system.”
It takes an exceptional course to host both a Ryder Cup and a US Open within a decade of opening but that’s exactly what happened to Cypress Creek when Ben Hogan captained the US team to a 23½-8½ thumping of Great Britain and Ireland in 1967, followed two years later by Orville Moody winning his national Open by one stroke from a group of three players.
The course is set up on a grand scale for championship golf with long holes, large undulating greens and a sprinkling of water hazards around the layout. Eight of the par four holes on the card measure over 430 yards from tee to green so it’s a track that suits long, accurate hitters.
The 540-yard, right doglegged 13th is a memorable par five but the most appealing holes on the scorecard are the par threes, the toughest of which is undoubtedly the 213-yard 4th hole. It was here that, incredibly, Ben Hogan sprayed three tee shots into the Creek during his final competitive round of golf in 1971.
Hosting big time events is no guarantor that the course itself will be one where architectural greatness lives. Such is the case with Champions Golf Club and its Cypress Creek Course. Founded by such golf titans as Jimmy Demaret and Jackie Burke, Champions sports a larger than life persona -- comparable to that of the State of Texas.
Yes, the club hosted the Ryder Cup and US Open early in its history but the course can be summed up very quickly -- flat, dull and repetitious with nothing that really stands apart. Cypress Creek can be stretched over 7,300 yards and features several dog-leg holes. The most noted hole is the par-3 4th which can play to a max of 230 yards and requires a carry over a water hazard.
Texas golf has certainly advanced since the time Champions was created. There are several designs of quality which truly do "fly under the radar." Amazingly, the greater Houston metro area is among the largest in America but the golf side is still devoid of anything of truly meaningful stature.
Sadly, Champions personifies a Texas expression -- "all hat and no cattle."
by M. James Ward