Astros Golf Foundation Hits a Homerun for Memorial Park12 Feb 2019
February 2019 Blog Post by Rand Stephens, Houston Managing Director & Principal
Once again, Houston collaborates to produce innovative results that benefit the community as a whole by making the connection between private and public partnerships. The Astro Golf Foundation’s $13.5 million proposal to renovate Memorial Park Golf Course was passed by Houston City Council on January 9. Renovations are well underway, teeing up Memorial Park to host the 2020 Houston Open.
Using private funds to renovate a public golf course benefits Houston on multiple levels – revenue for the city, money raised for charities, and a golf course face-lift designed by world-renowned golf course architect Tom Doak (with the collaboration of Brooks Koepka, current U.S. Open Champion) at zero cost to tax payers and zero course fee increases. Although local golfers and park goers will have to endure the inconveniences of construction over the next several months, the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Over the last 70 years, the tournament has bounced around many different golf courses in and around Houston, including BraeBurn Country Club, Quail Valley Country Club, Pine Forest Country Club, Champions Golf Club, Woodlands Country Club and Golf Club of Houston (formerly Redstone Country Club). The tournament was first hosted by River Oaks Country Club in 1946 and moved to Memorial Park the following year.
Memorial Park Golf Course was a hotbed for the city’s best golfers during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s when they congregated and competed at the park to sharpen their skills. The most notable player being golf hall of famer and Masters Champion, Jackie Burke, who was recently inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame with George Forman, AJ Foyt and Dan Pastorini. Also, golf legend Arnold Palmer won the tournament at Memorial Park in 1957.
Bringing the event back to Memorial Park is a stroke of genius. Not only does one of the city’s crown jewels get restored, it’s an area that’s centrally located and easily accessible via Uber or Lyft and a putt away from Uptown Houston which is home to some of the most prominent energy, financial, real estate and professional services in the world. The renovations to Memorial Park and its golf course, coupled with the projected 2020 completion of the dedicated bus lane project will make Uptown-Galleria the ultimate live-work-play location.
Given the disruption that many retailers along Post Oak Blvd. have endured because of the bus project, having the Houston Open return to Memorial Park Golf Course may be just what is needed. Retailers in that area will undoubtedly benefit from the estimated $50 to $90 million economic impact that the tournament will bring to the city.
Renovations, improvements, construction will always bring temporary hassles, but that’s just par for the course. When the final outcome spurs prosperity for businesses, charities and the community, well that’s just a homerun for all.
(Rand Stephens is a Principal of Avison Young and Managing Director of the company’s Houston office.)