Memorial Park Remade

Houston PGA Tour stop gets new look, new home

Courtesy photo

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New look. New logo. New date. New vibe.

And lots of dirt being moved at Memorial Park Golf Course.

Yes, we're talking the Houston Open, which launched its 2019 reboot Wednesday afternoon by announcing the new 2019 fall date – October 7-13 – and a new logo. Think lots of Astros orange and blue plus a flagstick. And of course, a star.

With Houston City Council signing off on the project last week, Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, who jumped in to save the event last year, was ready to roll out plans for his vision for the Houston Open.

The tournament, whose history dates back to 1946, will return to its most recent home – the Golf Club of Houston – for the 2019 event before moving to a renovated Memorial Park in 2020. Architect Tom Doak was there to talk about the project, which Crane said Doak promises will be completed by the fall to ensure that it has the PGA TOUR's required one-year's growth before hosting the event. Crane plans to move the event to Memorial in 2020 and to eventually settle back into a spring date.

Before losing longtime title sponsor Shell Oil and being unable to secure another one, the Houston event had the coveted lead-in spot to the Masters, which gave it a strong field and an international flair.

Crane got involved because he didn't want to see the city lose the PGA TOUR and he said that profits will go back to the Houston community. "We're making no money off of this,'' he said. "I got involved because I didn't want to see our city lose the PGA Tour."

Memorial Park is the busiest and most popular public course in the city and will remain that way. In addition, it will have a signature First Tee program there for juniors.

"Any time you do something this big, people are concerned with change," said Crane, who has a five-year commitment with the TOUR. "At first, nobody likes change. But I know they're going to like this golf course when we're done with it."

The Astros Golf Foundation will run the event and course renovation, which will cost approximately $13.5 million, will come from private funds.

"It's a plus-plus," Crane said. "There's no cost to the taxpayers, and the Foundation has the resources to kick it off and get it running. It's a big commitment on our part, but at the end of the day the tournament will generate a lot of funds for the community. I know people don't like change sometimes, but I think they're going to be very happy with where we end up."

Houston Open tournament director Colby Callaway said the Houston Open will have a $7.5 million purse, a new feel and a new look.

"In addition to featuring an attractive field of golfers, we will also be adding some new elements for our spectators, including musical entertainment and a tailgate zone,'' he said. And the purse, he said, "will make it the premier fall event on the PGA TOUR in the U.S.A."

World No. 1 Brooks Koepka, who is a member at Crane's Floridian and teams in with Astros Golf Foundation president Giles Kibbe in the club's annual pro-am, has signed on to consult with Doak on the course and could be key to helping boost the field. In addition to Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson as also Floridian members.

Although the event will be in the early portion of the TOUR's wrap-around schedule in 2019, it could still draw a strong field. The FedEx Cup point system encourages players to earn points throughout the season so they can make the playoffs at the end of the year.

"Our goal is to work hard and establish a first-class tournament that one day will be considered one of the best on Tour," Crane said. "This tournament will benefit the City of Houston in many ways, creating revenue for the business community as well as generating significant dollars each year for the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and for the First Tee of Greater Houston.''

Crane's vision will make Houston one of a handful of cities hosting TOUR events on public courses. Next week's Farmers Insurance Open is at Torrey Pines, a public course which also hosted a U.S. Open, while Bethpage Black on Long Island has hosted two U.S. Opens, two FedEx Cup playoff events and will host this year's PGA and the 2024 Ryder Cup. Harding Park in San Francisco has hosted a number of events, including a Presidents Cup and a World Golf Championships event and will host the 2020 PGA.

The course will have to be brought up to TOUR standards with improved drainage and irrigation and rework some holes.

"Our commitment is to improve the course, provide the city with storm water retention, and also ensure the course is maintained for all Houstonians to enjoy affordable golf at a PGA-caliber facility," Kibbe said. "It will be a great addition to the city's iconic park."

PGA Tour executive vice president Andy Pazder talked about the growth of the TOUR's public course partnerships and said, "I anticipate that we'll very quickly add Memorial Park to that list of our great public venues.''

Callway and Kibbe both emphasized the added energy the event as a whole will bring to the city.

"Our new brand reflects our desire to get a new generation excited about golf in Houston," Kibbe said. "We want the tournament to bring together all walks of life for a great social experience, while watching the best athletes compete at an elite level. It is bright, bold and it reflects the values of the tournament – integrity, collaboration, passion, authenticity and fun."

Find the advantages of hitting the links

Here's why playing golf will help you make more money

There is no better environment for creating strong business relationships than participating in a four-hour round of golf with colleagues. Take a second and think about the advantages that playing 18 holes presents for a lower-level worker looking to make strides in their career.

For starters, golf allows for long periods of time driving around in a cart with another person. A situation like that provides a truckload of time to make conversation and get to know someone better.

If you are playing with individuals who like to sling around some cash, the game also lends itself to making small (or large) bets that offer the potential for good-natured bonding with teammates (and opponents). And of course, If alcohol should find its way into the hands of golfers during the round, then the atmosphere becomes looser and more open.

There are a broad variety of ways to utilize golf to help further your career, but all of those advantages can become potholes that derail a rising career if not employed correctly. Here are five solid lessons that will have you grabbing your clubs and sharpening your short game to help boost your career.

1) Honesty is the best policy for showing your character

Golf is the sport that people feel most comfortable to cheat at while playing without worrying about being called out for a penalty. But by cheating, amateurs rob themselves of one of the cooler aspects of golf. The sport is the rare game that allows a golfer to compete against themselves while they are battling against someone else.

But when playing with business associates, honesty can be the best policy because it offers bosses insight into your character. As Julian Small, the CEO of the Wentworth Golf Club in London told The Economist, "When you do business with people, you need to know more about them." The only way to know more about a person is to spend time with them where they have a chance to conversate and observe people. Golf offers the perfect venue for that interaction.

Now we all know that little things add up when you are working toward a career goal. Whether it be spending extra time at work or asking for more responsibility, the higher-ups take notice when you commit to your job. So, it may seem like an insignificant thing to cut a stroke here or use your foot wedge to move a ball from behind a tree, but realize that your boss may be sizing you up while you do it.

2) Finding a way to turn the "No" into a "Yes"

Midway through season four of the hit comedy sitcom, The Office, there was an episode titled "Job Fair." In the episode, paper salesman Jim, played by John Krasinski, takes a potential client, Phil, onto the links in the hopes of sealing a new business deal. On top of the hilarious sight gags (at one point Jim's co-worker Andy runs a cart into a sand bunker and is ejected), there is a solid message for all younger associates on their own for the first time.

When Jim attempts to make some headway with the client on switching paper companies, he's turned down quickly. But after watching Phil take six shots to get out of the sand trap, Jim later compliments him on not picking up the ball and quitting. He then tells Phil that just like he didn't quit in the bunker with his wedges, Jim won't stop trying to get his business. And because it is a television show, Jim gets the new contract. But just because the lesson involves some Hollywood magic doesn't mean that using perseverance can't get you what you want.

The great thing about golf is that you don't have to press your point immediately. Throughout the long round, you will have several opportunities to lay the groundwork for a stronger relationship. Perhaps you can't close the deal in one afternoon, but you'll see opportunities, like Jim, to let the client know that you won't stop trying to help them better their business.

3) Everyone wants to talk about themselves

If you are struggling to make a connection with a client or associate, be patient and calm. Nothing strangles conversation more than having someone who is tense or consistently pressing within the group. The golf course provides a haven for informal discussions. No longer are people wearing suits and ties and stuffed into a boardroom. Instead, they are breathing fresh air and wearing clothing that is lightweight and relaxing.

Yashish Dahiya, the CEO of Policybazaar.com, told Entrepreneur India that the golf course was the perfect place for long, casual conversations that were necessary to his business. "The semi-formal set-up of a golf course allows me to interact about several opportunities at length," Dahiya said. "Also, professionals and businessmen alike are more open with the opinions and reviews in this setup in comparison to a boardroom, which can be of great value to any entrepreneurial venture."

Never forget that the majority of people enjoy talking about their life. Maybe they have kids or grandkids or went to a prestigious college. The subjects are limitless for conversation. Yes, it can be hard to crack someone who appears guarded with details of their life, but there is always a conversation to be had that opens the door to broader discussions.

Once you make a connection, then you can find a path to bringing up business. Most people play golf to leave their troubles behind. They want a chunk of time that can relieve stress and bring some joy into their lives. Golf is the outlet that accomplishes those things in most businessmen. If you can learn proper timing, then the club can be a great too for future business.

4) Be open to what a day at the course can bring you

One of the worst mistakes you can make when hitting the links with business on your mind is becoming too narrow with your focus. Perhaps you have the intention of making inroads with a new client, or you are hoping you'll get a chance to talk to your boss about more responsibility, but the day never really works in your favor, and you strike out. Some individuals will look at the day as a bust and simply give up on the numerous opportunities for additional networking. This curveball is why you always have to be open for what a day at the club could bring you.

Most professionals encourage entrepreneurs to relax on the golf course and not push business. Instead, focus on developing the relationships of the people around you. No one can ever claim that their time at the course has been a wasteful use of resources because we can't say definitively that the people we meet won't be close friends or future business partners.

By pressing your associates or potential clients into business talk, you run the risk of alienating them quickly. So instead of shooting for the quick sale, play the long game when you find yourself in a group on the golf course. Build relationships and seek mentors that can help guide your career. By doing this, you assure that the business will one day take care of itself.

5) Know what you are doing on the course

It may seem like an obvious thing, but all of the business acumen and training in the world won't help you if you are a moron on the golf course. Remember, other golfers will always excuse a man that plays golf poorly, but they won't tolerate a player who doesn't know what the hell they are doing on the links.

Obvious things to avoid include being loud, drinking too much, and dressing inappropriately. But you also need to make sure that you know the unwritten rules of the game of golf. You can really ruin a day at the course by hitting out of turn, standing on someone's putting line or making noise while someone is trying to hit the golf ball. Always be ready to hit your shot and if you lose a golf ball, don't spend twenty minutes looking for it.

If you decide to play for money and you are fortunate to win, don't celebrate or boast about your winnings, especially if you took money from your boss or a client. Instead, take that money and buy drinks for the group, or if the haul is big enough, kick in for dinner. Believe me, the money will come back to you ten-fold if you can close a sale later on with the client.

Conclusion

The golf course can be a great place to further your career and deepen relationships that could lead to promotions and new experiences. These benefits only happen if you use your time at the golf course wisely. Relax and enjoy the day, while always keeping your eye on the prize that awaits you if you handle your business the right way.


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