The Houston Open has existed in some form or another since 1946 and been held at many locations around the city. The Tournament Course at the Golf Club of Houston has hosted it more often than most. Although the event was held at the exclusive Member course for the first few years, the public Tournament Course held the event until 2019.
Rees Jones reached deep into his taste for heroic golf (with assistance from David Toms), and nearly every hole on the front nine features a carry or approach that will bring golfers perilously close to a water hazard. The second nine features a slightly less dangerous nine, allowing players to place themselves in the shoes of their favorite PGA pro and air it out.
The Tournament course opens with a straight away welcoming par four. From about 130 yards in the hole has mirror images bunkers, three on each side. The 2nd hole bends a bit to the right and the fairway has a bunker left and a long one right. The green is protected by two deep front bunkers left and right. The third is a penthouse or outhouse hole. Water all the way down the left side and the green is tucked behind the hazard. A decent dry drive should put an attack iron in your hand. The first pat five is reachable. However, you must avoid the large fairway bunker left. There is a water hazard left that starts about 230 out and runs to the green. On the right side there are three sequential bunkers starting about 100 yards out. The green has a ridge in the middle running front to back. The fifth is the longest par four on the front and the number one handicap hole, with, you guessed it water left. The hole bends left with a fairway bunker on the right about 185 yards out and a greenside bunker front left. The 6th also goes left with a swamp carry and water left on the approach. A key is to avoid the long narrow bunker in the landing area on the left side. The 7th is the shortest par three with a slight water carry and water left. Big hitters can reach the par 5 8th in two. There is some water left off the tee, but it should not come into play. However, there is also a sign of the apocalypse, water right starting about 250 yards out and three sequential bunkers right starting at about 80 yards. The front finishes with the longest par three. Don’t be ashamed to hit driver.
The back starts off with three of the easier holes. A decent drive on should set you up to go pin-seeking, although club selection is key as this a three tiered green. The 11th is a straight par four and it even has water right. The 12th is the shortest par four and is rated the easiest hole. I have heard of people driving the green, but if you push, block or heaven forbid slice you are in the water. The 13th is a long par five, favor the left side to avoid the fairway bunkers left. Favor the left on your second shot and avoid the large greenside bunker right. It was not user friendly. The 14th is a long par three to a guitar pick green that is protected with deep front bunkers right and left. The 15th is the longest par five. Favor the right off the tee to avoid the left fairway bunker. Your second shot should also favor the right to give you the best attack angle. The 16th is a mid-length par three over some fine Texas swampland. The 17th is the longest par four, it leans slightly left and is tough. If you can carry the left fairway bunker you gave yourself a chance. There is a ditch right in front of the green. The 18th is a long demanding finishing hole. Almost a given that there would be water running down the entire left side of the hole. There is also a large fairway bunker on the right side in the landing area. The green is squeezed in between a bunker right and the water hazard left.
A good course but too predictable.