HUMBLE, Texas -- Officials of the Houston Golf Association (HGA) and Redstone Companies Hospitality, a division of The Redstone Companies, Wednesday announced a five-year contract extension for the Shell Houston Open PGA TOUR event to be played on the Redstone Golf Club -- Tournament Course.
Steve Timms, president and CEO of Houston Golf Association, and Greg Nielson, Senior Vice President of Houston Golf for Redstone, jointly made the announcement at Redstone Golf Club, which has been the host venue for the Shell Houston Open since 2003.
"We are excited to continue our partnership with Redstone Golf Club," said Timms. "This announcement underscores the long-term commitment of our organization and The Redstone Companies to the PGA TOUR and the youth of our community who we serve through the Shell Houston Open."
"We are thrilled to host the Shell Houston Open through 2017," said Nielson. "Our goal is to continue providing an exceptionally manicured course and first-class venue for the PGA TOUR, the players and all the spectators who come out to support the event."
HGA has been promoting professional golf to the area since 1946 and the local event is the 10th oldest among 40-plus events on the current schedule. The Shell Houston Open moved to Redstone Golf Club's Member Course in 2003 and then to the current Tournament Course in 2006.
In conjunction with the contract extension the HGA announced it has underwritten a series of spectator enhancements for the Tournament Course, some of which have already been completed. Those enhancements will all be in place for the 2013 Shell Houston Open, set the week of March 26-31.
"We want to ensure that every patron who walks on the property has a world class viewing experience that matches the quality of the course that our friends at Redstone provide," said Timms.
In 2011 Houston Golf Association, the PGA TOUR and Shell Oil Company jointly announced a five-year extension of Shell Oil Company's title sponsor agreement through the 2017 tournament. That is the identical time frame as the extension of the Redstone agreement.
Originally designed by renowned golf course architect Reese Jones with input from player advisor David Toms, the Tournament Course is free of real estate development. The course was designed to allow all the under-pinning necessary for a professional tournament venue.
The Tournament Course is one of only 11 daily fee courses to host a PGA TOUR event.
Improvements on the 18th hole:
• Elevating the area behind 18 green by 6.5 feet for better spectator viewing.
• Re-shaping/reducing the size of the fairway bunker on golfer's right, lowering the area behind the bunker to allow spectators to be closer to the golf action. This will allow the spectators to be brought in closer to the fairway to allow a better view of the landing area.
• Re-shaping/reducing the size of the greenside bunker on golfer's right, expanding the closely mown chipping area, which has become one of the signature attributes of the Redstone Golf Club -- Tournament Course set up in an effort to give shot values similar to those offered at Augusta National. The area behind the bunker will also be elevated to afford enhanced viewing by spectators.
Improvements on the 17th hole:
• Reshaping and elevating the areas behind the green and on golfer's left of the green to give it the same attributes as 18 green with closely mown chipping areas. This will also enhance spectator viewing from behind the green.
Improvements on the 16th hole:
• Construction of a new bridge adjacent to the far right teeing area for use by players and caddies will allow spectators to utilize the original bridge, which will be expanded to handle more foot traffic. Spectators, who can now gather on the left-hand side of the teeing area for a better view, formerly had to walk behind the grandstands on golfer's left. Spectators can now use the original bridge and not lose sight of the green. (NOTE: In 2012 the PGA TOUR competition staff worked with advance Rules Official Robby Ware to set up a greater variety of yardages on the par-3 holes. The 16th and seventh holes will play shorter [between 155-180 yards] and the ninth and 14th holes will play 200-yards-plus.