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Straightforward Golf is the Draw at Redstone Members Course
Sometimes when playing golf you're reminded of those youthful days on a putt-putt course, one of those facilities with silly "hazards" that attempt to keep you interested. Some modern-day architects throw in their own "windmills" on course designs as a way to put their names in the headlines.
Redstone Members Course
There's none of that hogwash on the Members course at Redstone Golf Club, the older of the two courses at this facility in the northwestern Houston suburb of Humble, Texas. Members is the older brother of the Tournament course at Redstone, which hosts the Shell Houston Open on the PGA Tour each April, and which itself held the SHO for three years before the Tournament course was completed.
At Members, there are no gimmicks, just what-you-see-is-what-you-get golf minus the glitzy waterfalls, greens with huge slopes that disappear into trouble, meaningless split fairways, or bizarre bunker complexes. Here, it's all about playing and managing your game, firing to spots away from the pines and oaks so you can attack the pins on mostly accessible greens.
The Members course has some heft, stretching a whopping 7,508 yards from the tips, a place where officials discourage most players to tee it up from. Though options for setting up the course are virtually endless, Members sports a very traditional look.
The layout features abundant wetlands, natural corridors and gentle shaping. There are just a handful of fairway bunkers, few forced carries over water, and more than a dozen varieties of old trees remaining from the former El Dorado Golf Club, the George Fazio design that once graced the property but closed in the early 1990s after falling victim to a Houston economy that felt the pain from an oil bust.
Renovated and redesigned by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy and reopened in 2002, Members was transformed from a run-of-the-mill, 1960s-era track into an environmentally sensitive venue. The revamped course was woven into a master plan that includes housing, conference center, clubhouse and the neighboring Rees Jones-designed Tournament course.
Members has a par-72 (35-37) routing, with three par-3s on the outward nine and just a single one-shotter on the inward half. From the back tees, the track carries a rating of 75.9 and a slope of 133, tough enough for even the best of sticks.
Beginning with the 562-yard opener, the par-5s on Members are among the top holes in the Houston metro area. Other three-shotters include the 582-yard ninth, the 577-yard 12th and the 574-yard 15th, all excellent tests that ask for nice positioning off the tee and on the layup. The best of the bunch may be the ninth, which usually plays longer than its yardage. The hole is protected by wetlands along its entire right side; get close on your second shot for a wedge into a shallow, well-bunkered green.
The course's top handicap hole is the 498-yard par-4 seventh, where you will probably need a long iron or fairway metal for your second. The largest putting surface on the course is actually two small greens, with a huge ridge serving as a separator. It's also well-guarded by bunkers left and fronted along the right by water.
The seventh is the only hole on the course with much severe movement in the putting surface. Elsewhere, Members' greens offer subtle twists and turns; here, you're not going to have three or four breaks on a 30-foot putt or find unfair pin placements.
The final four-hole stretch will ensure you earn that anticipated adult beverage after the round. This final gauntlet begins with a long and straight par-5 on No. 15, where a huge oak tree blocks the approach along the right, and then comes two long par-4s: the 474-yard 16th and the 475-yard 17th.
The 16th is tree-lined and boasts a green that drops off left toward water, with a series of bunkers along the right. On 17, if you land five yards short of the green you're in the water, so select the right club and swing confidently.
The closer is "just" 448 yards, but there's water down the entire left flank of the fairway and trees right. The approach is into a slightly elevated and difficult-to-read green that is heavily bunkered on the left-hand side.
Nine of the 10 par-4s at Redstone's Members course extend more than 400 yards from the tips, so eat your Wheaties before teeing off. Yet the course has attributes other than length; it's very well-maintained and there is little rough to gobble your ball on this open and airy track. Jacobsen said, accurately, the course was fashioned to bring all shots into play, especially the short game.
Redstone Golf Club features a practice range with a 100,000-square-foot, double-ended teeing area, seven target greens ranging from 100-300 yards out, and an extensive short-game practice area. The club's opulent clubhouse features two pro shops (one for members-only), dining areas and a bar, locker rooms, and an outdoor terrace with views of the action.
Across the street from the clubhouse is one of the nation's premier First Tee facilities. Redstone's setup has a par-3 course designed by Rees Jones as well as learning and practice facilities. It's dedicated to providing area youngsters exposure to life-enhancing values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship through golf and character education.
For more information, visit www.redstonegolfclub.com.
Steve Habel is one of Cybergolf's national correspondents, contributing news stories, features, equipment and book reviews and personality profiles from his base in Central Texas. He is also the managing editor for Business District magazine in Austin and works as a contributing editor for Horns Illustrated magazine, a publication focusing on University of Texas sports. He also writes a blog (www.shotoverthegreen.blogspot.com), which features news on golf and the Longhorns.
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