Golf Course Architecture - Issue 56: April 2019

TEE BOX 36 Tom Doak is working on a renovation of Memorial Park golf course in Houston, with a brief to make it an exciting venue for the PGA Tour’s Houston Open, while keeping the course playable for the 60,000 residents who play annually. What is the extent of the work? Only the par-three second hole, and the tee for the third, are out of the original corridor. However, eight of the eighteen greens have shifted position; the par-five eighth is lengthened and the ninth changes from a par four to a par three; the par- five thirteenth – which lost ground at the tee for a road in the park – becomes a driveable par-four, and the next hole becomes the par five. We have also tripled the size of the irrigation pond, to capture rainwater and reduce the use of city water for irrigation, using the excavated material [about 100,000 cubic yards] to improve surface drainage and add relief to the property. Are there aspects of the existing course that you were keen to emphasise? The two features of the property that were underutilised on the existing course were the ravines in between holes on the front nine, which were nearly all hidden in dense trees, and the many beautiful trees that had no influence on play. We have shifted tees and fairways to bring the ravines into play on holes two-to-seven, thinned out the trees and shifted greens so that key trees may be an obstacle for players who have driven in the rough. What do you hope will be the outcomes for Houston’s public golfers? A lot of the money is being spent on drainage and sand capping, to make the “Many bunkers add difficulty for average players but are superfluous for the Tour player” THE INTERV I EW with Tom Doak GCA spoke with Tom Doak about the renovation of Memorial Park golf course in Texas, which will host the PGA Tour’s Houston Open