UPDATE: The multi-million dollar plan to renovate Memorial Park Golf Course so it can potentially host the Houston Open has gotten the green light to move forward. Houston City Council approved the Astros Golf Foundation's proposal for the renovations on Wednesday, January 9.
Some Houston area golfers could find themselves booking their tee times elsewhere as city council considers a $13.5 million plan to renovate the Memorial Park Golf Course.
As CultureMap reported, the renovations will be funded by Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and the Astros Golf Foundation, and is supported by the Memorial Park Conservancy.
The proposal includes a commitment from the foundation to pay an annual tournament fee of $250,000 to the conservancy and $750,000 to the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
The plan is to upgrade the park to the Professional Golf Association (PGA) standards and to bring the Shell Houston Open back to the city. But there are differing opinions on the upgrade among golfers at the park.
"I understand in wanting to bring the PGA back to Houston, but there's just got to be somewhere else that fits better than Memorial Park," says Steve Schuller, who has been golfing at the course twice a week for two decades and doesn't want to see the pro tour here.
"To make the course to accommodate a pro tour is going to take major renovations," Schuller said. "It takes golf away from the people the course was made to accommodate."
Schuller's also concerned the course will be closed longer than anticipated for renovations. The city tells ABC13 the park is scheduled to reopen in fall 2019.
Some people are excited for the change, like John Alford, who has been golfing here for more than 60 years.
"It's such a jewel. It's located right downtown," Alford said. "You can see the skylines as you hit number one, see the Transco Tower. It just brings back great memories, so I'm looking forward to the change."
The Houston Open was played at Memorial Park in 1947 before returning there from 1951 to 1963. The tournament now takes place at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble.
Plan developers plan to keep the fees the same for golfers once the course reopens. Houston City Council will consider the plan on Wednesday, January 2.
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