Redstone Golf Club near Houston is as close as you may come to playing Augusta
No. 18 at Redstone is one of the toughest finishers on the PGA Tour (Redstone Golf Club)
HUMBLE, Texas – When the date of the Shell Houston Open was moved to the week before the Masters in 2006, tournament officials decided to do something brilliant.
In an effort to get as many top players as possible, they prepped the Tournament Course at Redstone Golf Club like Augusta National. That meant using a combination of rye/bentgrass to overseed the greens and heavily overseeding the fairways and tees with rye, essentially turning Redstone into a winter golf course.
The players raved, and with the exception of Tiger Woods, the Shell Houston Open has been able to attract the top players in the world because they're looking for a tune-up to the Masters.
Of course, the players' endorsement and subsequent publicity has been the best form of advertising for this Rees Jones course, which was specifically designed for the PGA Tour event.
Bret Nutt, head golf professional of the Tournament Course, said in the weeks following the tournament, which is held in early April, the course is booked solid. There are outings, but there are also plenty of individual players who have seen the course on TV or walked the course during the tournament.
In short, nothing attracts players like perfect conditions, and from February to late spring, that's pretty much standard operating procedure at Redstone Golf Club, which is located just 15 minutes east of George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Redstone Golf Club: Play where the pros play
Like any course on the PGA Tour, Redstone Golf Club can offer something special – the treatment.
Here it starts with a forecaddie and the best practice facility in the Houston area.
After you arrive to your cart, you're greeted by your forecaddie, who carries your clubs to the range, wipes them clean as you finish with them and keeps you on schedule for your tee time.
Our caddie, 'Hollywood,' a young man with long blond hair and aspirations of going into the golf business, worked his way from Whistling Straits in his home state of Wisconsin and eventually to Houston for the winter. He earned his nickname as he gained a reputation as a 'player' while caddying at golf courses in New York.
Hollywood declined to divulge the details of his escapades. Instead, he was Johnny on the spot for greens reads, finding balls, yardage and confirming club selection. Given that I was in a group of all single-digit players, the partnership worked extremely well.
Length and water at Redstone Golf Club
From the very back, Redstone plays to a par 72 and 7,422 yards. One tee up – and there are five sets in all – it's still just under 7,000 yards.
While some of the holes can play long, the course overall runs fast, which is just the way the PGA Tour players like it.
By the time you get to the fifth hole, though, you get the idea of how hard and long some of these par 4s can be. Not only is the fifth 467 yards from the back tee, but the tee shot plays around a lake, which forces you to not only hit it long but shape a driver as well to carry part of the water. From there, you're looking at a long club into a green protected by water and bunkers.
The primary defense of the course, however, is the water, which is predominant on at least half the holes. It comes into play on par 5s and par 3s and big-time on the difficult 484-yard, par-4 18th hole, considered one of the toughest finishing holes on Tour.
In fact, the last four holes represent one of the most difficult finishing stretches anywhere. The 15th is a 609-yard par 5 that features wetlands and is anything but a routine three-shotter. The 16th is a 200-yard par 3, and the 17th and 18th par 4s are both over 480 yards.
Fortunately, the 18th generally plays downwind. In the spring and winter, though, it often plays into the wind, and when that's the case, even the best players often find themselves laying up on the second shot with water all the way down the left side.
Redstone Golf Club: The verdict
Opened in 2005, Redstone Golf Club's Tournament Course is gaining a fine reputation.
The downside of the course are the treks between the first and second hole and 17th and 18th, which are separated by bayous and several hundred yards (forecaddies typically have to catch a ride here on the back of a golf cart).
But the quality of holes and superb conditioning make the fact that the course is spread over 350 acres easy to overlook.
Practice facilities here are also as good as it gets. The large range, with perfect turf, is double-sided. There's also a large chipping green, practice bunkers and two large practice greens shared by both the Tournament Course and the private course at Redstone.
Lessons are also available from the professional staff, which includes well known instructor Charlie Epps, who has worked with 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera.
If you play the course in spring, you can enjoy the same conditions the PGA Tour players get, which simply put is phenomenal. During the summer, as the course transitions back into Bermuda, there might be some blemishes here and there, but by in large, it's still in pretty good shape, although the course closes in the middle of summer for maintenance and late fall for overseeding.
This story originally published on WorldGolf.com.
Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings
Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.
Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.
As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.
"That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."
Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.
Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.
Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut
If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.
Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.
But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.
Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.
Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:
Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180
Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70
Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5
Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450
Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200
Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000
Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements
SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.
Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.
“It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.
Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.
“What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”
Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.
“When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”
Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back
SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.
Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.
Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim.
Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.