Memorial Park is one of five municipal golf courses operated by Houston Parks & Recreation Department. Designed by John Bredemus in 1936, the course hosted the Shell Houston Open from 1951 to 1963.
The course is currently in the middle of a $13.5-million renovation by Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design firm, which is scheduled to complete ahead of the PGA Tour returning to Memorial Park in October 2020 for the Houston Open. A substantial investment was made in sand capping fairways and installing additional drainage, allowing the course to remain playable during rainy weather. An irrigation pond was also tripled in size, with the excavated material used to add additional contouring around the property.
Eight of the original greens were moved, the par five 8th hole was lengthened, and the par four 9th was altered from a par four to a par three. The par five 15th is now a driveable par four and the following hole has been extended to a par five. Tees and fairways on the front nine were moved to bring ravines into play on holes 2 to7 and additional water hazards were incorporated into routing on the home stretch, starting at the short 15th.
Rating Memorial Park all depends on what you're comparing it to. If you are looking at it purely as a public, city-owned golf course, it's outstanding. The conditioning is very good, it has fair challenges, and is a tremendous place to play golf if you're not wanting to shell out a bunch of money. My critiquing of the golf course from a design perspective is that it feels like a lot of the same stuff time after time. There's a couple holes that stand out and grab your attention as really strong holes, particularly the 15th. Otherwise, you're hitting the same two-three clubs into a lot of these holes, and the holes start to run together in your mind except those few exceptions which really stand out. Having said that, it's a very respectable course which offers a difficult test. If it hosts the Houston Open down the road, which is rumored, I'll be interested to see what they do with the course. There's no way from an infrastructure perspective that it could host an event that size right now. There's not a ton of open space on property that could easily be adjusted to compensate for that either. It's a fascinating time for one of Houston's best values.