OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Astros owner Jim Crane makes major league save of Houston Open golf tournament

Crane (right) announced that his Astros Foundation is taking over the Houston Open. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan

This story originally appeared on CultureMap/Houston.

Houston’s most iconic golf tournament has a new benefactor, thanks to a major league move by Astros owner Jim Crane.

Crane’s Astros Foundation announced on June 12 that it has a five-year agreement with the PGA Tour to run the Houston Open starting in the fall of 2019. The date of the tournament was not announced. The prize money will be $7.5 million.

The Astros Foundation — the team charity of the Houston Astros — will use a consortium of local sponsors for financial support of the tournament, according to a statement from the foundation.

“The Astros Foundation has always committed to giving back to our community,” said Crane, in a statement. “The funds raised by this tournament will allow us to continue our commitment to serving the people within our county and city and help improve our  parks.”

Fans, followers, and organizers of the nationally relevant tournament have expressed concerns over the Houston Open’s future, as it was without a title sponsor — since Shell Oil declined to renew its contract after the 2017 tournament.

The Houston Golf Association ran it without a title sponsor this year, and the tour struggled to find a replacement. The announcement also means the Houston Golf Association is no longer the host organization of the Houston Open after 72 years.

Next season will be the first time the Houston Open is not part of the PGA Tour season since 1969. The Houston Open dates to 1946 when Byron Nelson won at River Oaks Country Club. The always nattily attired Ian Poulter won this year.

Patriot Paws/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

It's that time of year: Houston Ballet's packed and popular Nutcracker Market will be held Thursday, November 14, through Sunday, November 17, at NRG Center with more than 100,000 shoppers expected to scoop up everything "Christmasy" that can fit under a tree, down a chimney, on a dinner table or you can put a bow on it.

About 260 merchants, including 23 rookie booths, will kick back 11 percent of their sales toward the Houston Ballet Foundation. When you add in all the admission money, thousands of Houston area students will get a valuable lesson in the arts.

As always, all roads will lead to booth 920, to the back and to the right in NRG Center, where the Donne Di Domani ladies will be selling their legendary marinara sauce for the 28th year. Donne Di Domani means "Women of Tomorrow" in Italian, or "Spaghetti Sauce Ladies" in plain English.

The sauce is still $10 a bottle, credit cards accepted. If you buy a 12-bottle case for $120, they'll throw in a dozen recipe cards guaranteed to please the family, including your uncle who comes to your house each Christmas and does nothing but complain about your cooking.

Here's why I love writing about these ladies. Sure their sauce is amazing. Consider this a warning: If you wait till Sunday to buy the sauce, you'll be the little piggy who had none. But the real story is what Donne Di Domani does with their profits — we're talking millions here. Yeah, they sell a lot of sauce.

Each year, after the market closes and they total up the profits, the ladies decide which charities they'll support. It's a long list of organizations such as Shelter for Cancer Families, Casa Juan Diego, Triumph Over Kid Cancer, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the Carmelite Nuns of New Caney, and many more.

One year, when I was in the hospital getting my X-rays touched up, I heard that Sister Angel and the Carmelite Nuns said a prayer for me. Wrong church, wrong pew, but I'll take it.

Pawsing for our heroes
The charities may change, but the ladies will always support an organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families. Last year the charity was Folded Flag, which lends a hand to widows and children of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

In recent years, Donne Di Domani sponsored service dogs trained by Patriot Paws in Rockwell, Texas. I've been to Rockwell and seen how these remarkable dogs help wounded veterans get through their day. It costs $30,000 to train a dog, and the dogs are given free to vets who need them. Donne Di Domani so far has sponsored four Patriot Paws dogs:

"Hoffy," who was named after me (best honor I ever received), didn't make the grade. His mind wandered and he didn't concentrate on his studies. (The acorn sure didn't fall far from the tree.)

Continue on CultureMap to find out what happened to "Hoffy."

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