Memorial Park Golf Course has been
an integral part of the Houston landscape for as long as most can remember. It’s not difficult
imagining it sprung up shortly after the Allen brothers founded the city in
1836. That’s not true, obviously, but it is a bit older than generally believed
by anyone familiar with the area.
Its origins can be traced back to
a nine-hole course with sand greens that was cobbled together for use by convalescent soldiers at
Camp Logan, a World War I military training facility. The camp was located on the Buffalo
Bayou, about five miles west of the Houston city limits, on land the government
leased from the Hogg family. After the war ended, the Hogg family donated the title
to the approximately 1,500 acres where the campsite once stood to the city,
which would be officially dedicated as Memorial Park in 1924.
later, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department hired John Bredemus with the
directive to transform the existing nine-hole layout at Memorial Park into an
illustrious 18-hole course. Bredemus, who by that time had already
designed several notable courses in Texas, didn’t disappoint.
created a dazzling showpiece that would both challenge and delight accomplished
and recreational players alike. When the 18-hole course opened in 1936, it was
an immediate success and was considered an exemplary example of what municipal
golf could aspire to be.
For the past eight decades, Memorial
Park has been a welcoming and
inclusive place for generations of golfers, regardless of age, skill level
or socioeconomic status. Every conceivable
type of golfer can be found there, but a point of commonality is a love for the
game and for the neighborly course.
TGA President Leslie Henry, a longtime local resident, is a regular at
Memorial Park and one of its most enthusiastic fans.
“The first time I ever hit a golf ball was at Memorial Park
over 20 years ago,” Henry said. “What a magical place to learn golf in the
heart of the city. The coaches, staff and players are the best. It’s one of my
favorite places on earth!”
In addition to being the “go-to” spot for thousands of avid
golfers, Memorial Park has also been the site of many high-profile professional
and amateur events over the years, including numerous city championships, as
well as the Houston Open in 1947 and then again from 1951-1963.
It was this tournament-tested history, combined with its unbeatable
location, that would play a large part in Memorial Park’s remarkable second act.
In 2018, when Shell Oil’s longtime sponsorship of the Houston Open ended, the
PGA Tour announced it signed a five-year deal with Astros Golf Foundation,
founded by Houston Astros Owner & Chairman Jim Crane, to operate and serve
as the host organization for the event. A fundamental piece of the Astros Golf
Foundation plan was to revamp Memorial Park Golf Course and bring the tournament
back to the city center.
The redesign of Memorial Park began in January 2019 and was overseen by
acclaimed golf course architect Tom Doak, with input from player
consultant Brooks Koepka. In addition to the golf course renovation, the $18.5 million project (funded entirely by the
Astros Golf Foundation) also included the construction of a new maintenance building,
storm water irrigation system, a two-level, 84-bay practice facility, and a
First Tee complex with a four-hole course.
Unveiled in October 2019, the modern-day 7,292-yard Memorial Park
features improved sight lines and vistas, rolling fairways and green complexes,
fewer bunkers and an exciting final six holes that include two potentially
drivable par-4s, two par-5s, a short par-3 and a real bruiser as a finisher. Doak’s
stunning transformation has received rave reviews from both PGA Tour pros and
local golfers, and recently earned Memorial Park the seventh spot in Golf
Magazine’s inaugural list of the country’s 30 best municipal courses.
“Memorial Park Golf Course is truly so special to me,” Henry
said. “I loved the old course but with time comes change. The new course is
exceptional and a real state-of-the-art place to play. It’s a true jewel for
This fall would be a great time to schedule a trip to the
Bayou City, either with clubs in tow or to watch the pros when they come to
town from Nov. 11-14 for the 2021 Houston Open and see firsthand why Memorial
Park is making history again.
For more information about Memorial Park Golf Course, click here. For more information about the PGA Tour’s Houston Open, click here.