Houston ... we have solved the problem! America's space capital is also one of its great golf towns, but the glut of out-of-this-world courses makes narrowing the field more daunting than a moon walk. These courses will turn any buddy trip into a blast.
Redstone Golf Club
7,422 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $125 (includes forecaddie and cart)
Redstone's new Tournament Course, designed by Rees Jones and David Toms and opened in August, will host the PGA Tour's Shell Houston Open starting in 2006. (Redstone's other course, which previously hosted the event, has gone private.) If you opt to play from the tips, the shortest par 5 you'll face is 564 yards long. If you move up a set of tees, you'll still face plenty of challenges with tough bunkers, water hazards and greens that have more curves than Jennifer Lopez. Access to the private Member Course--which was unanimously well-received by Tour pros--is available for guests of the Houstonian Hotel.
England: 3,664 yards, par 36
Ireland: 3,680 yards par36
Scotland: 3,669 yards, par 36
Greens fee: $48-$59
Golfers with a lot of imagination (and a bad fake accent) can pretend they're playing Scottish links golf at this 27-hole facility just south of town. There's one lone tree on the entire property--a pine in the center of the sixth on the Scotland course--but plenty of knolls, waist-high grass and wind off the Gulf of Mexico. And polish your Texas wedge: Many greens have severe collection areas.
BlackHorse Golf Club
North: 7,301 yards, par 72
South: 7,171 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $69-$89
Peter Jacobsen and Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Jim Hardy designed the two tracks here. The North course demands sharp iron play to avoid the jailhouse bunkers protecting the greens. The South is more tree-lined and less testing, but you'll still need plenty of stick to carry a marsh on the 213-yard 17th. Both courses are routed around wetlands--water is in play on 19 of the 36 holes--and you seldom will have a level stance.
Cypress Wood Golf Club
Cypress: 6,909 yards, par 72
Creek: 6,973 yards, par 72
Tradition: 7,220 yards, par 72
Greens fee: $40-$50
You'll need to maneuver the ball like Astros ace Roger Clemens at Cypress Wood's three courses, just 15 minutes away from Bush Intercontinental Airport. Dense woodlands help to create tight chutes that place a premium on driving accuracy. The Tradition course--known for its exhausting bunkers and heaving greens--reopens this month after an extensive renovation.
- [LIST "Boldly go where a few million have gone before and visit the inside of a space shuttle at the Space Center Houston. Adults, $17.95, kids 4-11 $13.95.
spacecenter.org"] [LIST "The battleship USS Texas, which fought in World War I and World War II, is open for tours in nearby La Porte. Adults $7, children under 12 are free.
tpwd.state.tx.us"] [LIST "Hear some live country music and two-step the night away at Blanco's. Depending on the performer, cover charges start at $6.
houstonredneck.com/blancos.html"] [LIST "Catch a Houston Texans' game at Reliant Stadium (832-667-2000, houstontexans.com). Nosebleed seats start at $35."]
Where to stay
- [LIST "Inn at the Ballpark You'll love the old-time baseball motif and the fact that there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance. Rooms from $89. 866-406-1520, innattheballpark.com"] [LIST "Alden-Houston Built in 1924, this spot boasts all modern conveniences. Rooms from $155. 832-200-8808, aldenhotels.com"] [LIST "The Houstonian Guests have access to Redstone's private course. There's also gourmet dining at The Manor House and Olivette. Rooms from $185. 877-348-8800, thehoustonian.com"]
Where to eat
- [LIST "El Tiempo Cantina The fajitas come with combinations of steak, chicken, shrimp and lobster, and are almost as tasty as the margaritas. 713-807-1600, eltiempocantina.com"] [LIST "Goode Company Barbeque In a town known for barbecue, this is superb. 800-627-3502, goodecompany.com"] [LIST "Strip House Mammoth cuts of beef--like a 32-ounce double-cut strip steak--and a 24-layer chocolate cake are sure to fill you up. 713-659-6000"]
- [LIST "Most carriers service Houston's two airports, George Bush Intercontinental and William Hobby International. Rental cars with GPS are smart in this sprawling city (available from Hertz and Avis)."]