Just a handful of months after putting the final pile of dirt on the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, a fellow Texas tournament has slid back into the Austin event’s slot in the PGA Tour’s spring schedule.
Tour officials announced on Wednesday that the Houston Open will be held March 28-31, marking the first time since 2018 the event will be in the spring rotation. The Valero Texas Open in San Antonio is expected to maintain its position as the following week’s event, leading into the Masters.
According to an announcement from the Tour and Astros Golf Foundation, the tournament has also secured a long-term agreement with Texas Children’s, the largest pediatric and women’s health system in the nation. The agreement is for five years.
“We are excited to announce our partnership with Texas Children’s as the title sponsor for the Houston Open,” said Jim Crane, Houston Astros Owner and Chairman. “We couldn’t have asked for a better partner as we continue our mission of giving back to the greater Houston community. Aligning their values with the efforts of our Astros Golf Foundation provides a special opportunity for both organizations to continue to give back to our community, to grow the game of golf, and to provide a platform to help those most in need.”
The event moved from the private Golf Club of Houston to the municipal Memorial Park in 2020 after significant investment from Crane, who funneled enough cash into the muni track to get esteemed designer Tom Doak on board, with Brooks Koepka as a player advisor.
Memorial Park had always been the crown jewel of the Houston public golf scene. Originally built as a nine-hole course in 1912, an extensive redesign by John Bredemus (who had co-founded the Texas Professional Golfers Association in 1922) led to its “official” 18-hole opening in 1936.
Tony Finau celebrates after winning the 2022 Cadence Bank Houston Open. (Photo: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports)
From 1947 to 1963, the course hosted a PGA Tour event 14 times. Arnold Palmer won it once and Jack Nicklaus had a second-place finish. Famously, 1965 PGA Championship winner Dave Marr asked that his ashes be spread at Memorial Park — even though he never won there, he credited the track for shaping his career.
“On behalf of the PGA Tour, we are thankful to Texas Children’s for their commitment to one of the Tour’s legacy events in the Houston Open, a tournament that dates back to 1946,” said PGA Tour President Tyler Dennis. “The Houston Open has played a significant role in shaping the PGA Tour’s history through its competitive lineage with golf’s greats playing and winning the event as well as an unwavering commitment to bettering the community. This partnership between the Astros Golf Foundation and Texas Children’s has the opportunity to take the tournament to new heights, most notably in its ability to impact the lives of families in Houston and throughout Texas.”
Golfweek previously reported that Crane was leveraging the emergence of LIV Golf as a potential suitor for a Houston event if he couldn’t get the spring PGA Tour date he desires.
Crane is an investor in Escalante Golf, which staged two LIV Golf events in the upstart circuit’s inaugural year – Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Oregon and The International in Massachusetts – and then a third LIV event this season at The Gallery Golf Club in Marana, Arizona .
Crane, along with Giles Kibbe, senior vice president and general counsel for the Astros and president of the Astros Golf Foundation, played in the pro-am at LIV’s Boston event.
Houston is one of the largest markets in the US, and the Tour certainly didn’t want to lose it. Despite the Houston Open being successful going up against football and on the heels of a steady stream of baseball playoff games in recent years, Crane reportedly was no longer willing to support a golf tournament in the fall.
Tony Finau captured the Houston last November, and the event will not be staged in 2023 as it prepares for its return to the spring. The tournament will be televised on NBC, Golf Channel and Peacock, and PGA Tour Live on ESPN+.
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek