Uncertainty surrounds Houston Open with PGA Tour’s 2024 plan

When the PGA Tour announced in June it was ditching the wraparound season, it cast a feeling of uncertainty for the future of golf tournaments currently held in the fall.

Houston included.

The PGA Tour will go back to a traditional calendar-year schedule starting in January 2024. The Cadence Bank Houston Open wants to go back to a spring schedule.

“They know we’re interested in (switching dates) and we have the resources to do it,” Astros owner Jim Crane said on Sunday, shortly after presenting Tony Finau the trophy for winning the 2022 edition of the Houston Open.

Ever since the Astros Golf Foundation began conducting the Houston Open in 2019, the PGA Tour stop in Houston has been in the fall, including this week’s event at Memorial Park Golf Course.   

“We have always made it very clear with the PGA Tour that we want to be in the spring,” said Giles Kibbe, president of the Astros Golf Foundation. “There’s a good chance that we’re going to be in the spring sooner rather than later. But there’s no guarantees at this point. We’ll just keep working toward that goal and hopefully get there soon.”

Kibbe told the Chronicle on Sunday that the Astros Golf Foundation and the PGA Tour are in regular communication about the Houston tournament regaining a place in the spring.

The 2024 PGA Tour schedule is still in the works. Once dates are finalized, the 2023 schedule will take shape.

“Our primary goal is to be one of the top events on the PGA Tour in the spring,” Kibbe said. “If that happens in 2024 great, if it’s ’25 or ’26, that’s fine too.”

There are other professional golf tournaments in Houston that will be played in the spring. The LPGA has moved its first major, the Chevron Championship to The Woodlands, April 20-23 at Carlton Woods’ Nicklaus Course. The PGA Tour Champions’ Insperity Invitational is a week later on The Tournament Course at The Woodlands.

If Houston is on the PGA Tour schedule in the spring as early as 2024, there will not be a Houston Open at Memorial Park Golf Course in 2023. The Astros Golf Foundation does not want to put on two tournaments within four or five months of each other.

“They (PGA) want us to be in the spring,” Kibbe said. “We want to be in the spring. We just have to be patient and wait till it happens. The tour knows how important Houston is to the PGA Tour.”

One thing that will not change about the Houston Open is tournament location. Historic Memorial Park Golf Course will be the site regardless of season.

“It’s a beautiful piece of property in the middle of town,” Crane said. “We got to keep improving the course and the venue, and make it better for the fans. We can always get better.

“This is going to continue to grow. We have great (fan) support. We want to keep growing the tournament. The course was in great condition today, and we just want to continue to improve. Our goal is to be the best tournament in the PGA.” 

Prior to moving to a fall date starting in 2019, the Houston Open for a good number of years was played at Golf Club of Houston in Humble a week before the Masters. The late March early April date is not desired by the Astros Golf Foundation, which also does not want to interfere with the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.

There is also an issue of course condition during the year. The week before the Masters is usually a time when Memorial Park would be overseeded. February is usually cold. In March the transition has not taken place yet for the grow in of Bermuda grass. Memorial Park’s peak condition is late April, early May.

“We don’t get to pick that date, we’ll wait for the tour to tell us if they can make it happen, when we will play, and we’ll make it work,” Kibbe said. “If we have to overseed the golf course, we’ll overseed the golf course.

“Our goal is to get into the spring. And when they give us a date, we’ll say thank you and we’ll start getting ready.” 

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