The Jackrabbit course at Champions Golf Club north of Houston was added just five years after its other offering, the Cypress Creek course. George Fazio’s addition was a worthwhile complement, and — like many other courses in the designer’s portfolio — Jackrabbit became a family affair when nephew Tom Fazio was brought in to lengthen and solidify its challenge. The younger of the famous Fazio pair moved thousands of square feet of soil to boost the topography, and he added many high-faced bunkers.
Although Cypress Creek is held as the better of the two routes, the USGA stoked the flames of competition: The U.S. Women’s Open will be split between the two courses when it comes to Houston during December 2020.
Uniquely, the 75th edition of the event that is considered to be the most important in women’s golf is being hosted in December for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic, and there was no qualifying process with the entire field exempt. Shortened winter day length means that the Jackrabbit course has been called into action for the first two days to ensure the tournament’s 156-strong field will compete on time.
The Jackrabbit Course at Champions Golf Club has risen in stature with freshen up ahead of the 2020 US Women's Open. Usually regarded as the second 18 to the more historic Cypress Creek Course, the ladies played rounds on Jackrabbit in 2020 and the course is kept equally well conditioned. In contrast to the Cypress Creek Course, Jackrabbit has small greens, moderate length on the scorecard and plays considerably shorter off the club.
The front 9 routes through a housing development and brings OB into play off the tee often. The Par 4 2nd, medium length, requires a tee shot through OB right and water left to a dipping dogleg right around overhanging trees. The elevated knob of a green requires a high, lofted shot to hold it confidently. The run-off areas short right and long left are tight, harshly sloped and no bueno.
The Par 4 7th is straightaway with a generous landing area and a narrow fairway. Shots left of the fairway will find thick rough (for Texas) and play through a half-dead tree impeding the route to the green. A water hazard lies right of the hole, though not in play off the tee, and scares off the fade on the approach shot. The green is sloped back to front with grain running with the slope; it is very important to stay beneath the hole.
The 2nd par 3 on the back 9, the 16th, provides some visual deception as the green runs away from the player right to left while the bunkers beyond the green appear to run straight across. This is not so; they creep in on the right and will catch pushed balls pin high. Water is short and long of this green; a bunker shot can get nervy, especially if the green is sloping away towards a hazard or another bunker.
Jackrabbit's two 9s play away and into a low slung classic halfway house emblematic of Champions' overall feel - old school, relaxed, classic and content in its ways. The brick-and-siding aesthetic of the house matches the clubhouse and facilities on the main property just as Jackrabbit's routing matches the Cypress Creek vibe. Jackrabbit keeps the heart rate down and the enjoyment factor up for all 18; completing a 36 at Champions that makes one of the best residential routings I've ever played.