Houston gives PGA Tour a blueprint for running a top-class tournament
Figuring out the blueprint to bring the PGA Tour’s best to your tournament each year can be a daunting task. Tiger Woods only plays a handful of events so if he hasn’t played your event in the last couple of years, there’s a good chance he never will.
The same goes for the rest of the world top 10. Like a person with a specific taste for BMW’s or TaylorMade golf clubs, tournament loyalty can determine whether a tournament thrives or dies from the start.
Redstone Golf Club is certainly one of those courses that brings out the biggest names in the game. Just this week, the Shell Houston Open will be hosting six of the top 10-ranked players in the world, as well as Rory McIlroy, Geoff Ogilvy, Retief Goosen, Luke Donald, Angel Cabrera and Anthony Kim, just to name a few.
Golfweek’s Jim McCabe found out exactly why the tournament is such a big draw each year — especially considering it’s played the week prior to the Masters. This has traditionally been a tournament slot that’s never faired well in the past; but that hasn’t stopped Houston from building a blueprint to lure the games best to their tournament.
A commitment back in 2007 to prepare Redstone Golf Club’s Tournament Course so that it’s eerily similar to Augusta National – right down to green speeds, chipping areas, fairways mowed toward the tees – has been a huge hit with players. But the HGA’s hands-on care extends even further. Because it is an association that is in business to run golf tournaments – the Shell Houston Open being its grandest, of course – “we pay close attention to competitive elements,” Timms said.
Players are extended a course in an ultra-private setting, one with a superb practice area. All the other perks to which they have become accustomed – great hotels, restaurants, transportation – are spared no attention to detail, but the greatest selling point remains the field.
I think it’s wonderful to see a tournament go to great lengths to simulate the course conditions at Augusta National for the golfers playing in the event. While Shell probably plays a big role in paying for the hotels, restaurants, etc, the course committee has to do their part to make the track something special.
The HGA plays a major role in helping out with the event, and I really believe it would behoove other local golf associations in cities where tournament are held to do the same thing. Taking on an ownership role like the HGA has would only further enhance a tournament and the way that it’s run.
While other tournament have continued success year-in and year-out, it would still make sense for some of them to take a look at what the Shell Houston Open is doing and emulate their attention to detail.