News | Houston Golf Association
Houston Golf Association Re-Elects Board Chair and Officers; Names General Chair for 2018 Houston Open
HOUSTON (August 8, 2017) – Houston Golf Association held its annual election meeting at the Dick Harmon Learning Center on August 7, 2017 and announced new and returning members to its board of directors. Meg Leachman, who served as board chair in 2017, will serve a second term as board chair for 2017-2018. Re-elected for a second term were board officers John O. Armour, Jeff Miers and Michael Sandeen. Mike Yeager will serve a second year as general chair of the 2018 Houston Open. Long-time HGA members Rob Hungate and Henry Noey were elected to the board. For a complete listing of the 2017-2018 board of directors, click here.
Steve Timms is the president and CEO of Houston Golf Association and oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization and the Houston Golf Association employees.
Houston Golf Association
For 70 years, Houston Golf Association has organized high-profile professional and amateur golf events in the Greater Houston area to support its mission to make a difference in Houston and in the lives of youth through its charitable programs. The HGA, a not-for-profit, tax exempt 501c (3) organization, is a prolific charitable fundraiser, bolstered by a strong group of members and volunteers. Visit www.hga.org for more information.
By Richard Dean
Jason Bryant was down but not beaten. The 16-year-old from Barbers Hill High School was facing elimination on Tuesday at the Greater Houston City Jr. Match Play Championship, being 2 down with two holes to play.
“The nerves were kicking in, I love the feeling,” Bryant said. “Pressure is what I live for. I was ready to play.”
Bryant won both the 17 and 18 hole at Memorial Park Golf Course to square the match with Maxwell Martinez, before closing out the round of 32 match in 22 holes with a par on the fourth extra hole. And this after Bryant was 3 down through nine holes.
“I never throw in the towel,” said Bryant, who plays out of Eagle Pointe Golf Club. “No matter how far down. This feels amazing, outstanding. I’m ready to play (Wednesday).”
A year ago Bryant lost in this event in the first round. His win in Tuesday’s round of 32 is more gratifying by the way he came from behind.
“I love those kind of moments,” Bryant said. “You can’t give up, you just got to fight for it. That’s what I like doing.”
Bryant, who won 3 & 2 in Tuesday’s earlier round of 64 over Scott Schuster, advances to the round of 16 on Wednesday to face No. 1-seed Junior Hernandez of Clements, who needed 20 holes to beat a game Klein Collins’ Ryan Morant, who made the shot of the day.
Morant holed out from 128 yards using a pitching wedge for an eagle on the 18th hole when he was 1 down, forcing extra holes.
“A fight all the way to the end,” said Hernandez, who earned one of six byes in the round of 64 after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in Monday’s stroke play that determined the seeding for match play.
In a round of 32 match that featured two youngsters, Carson Ezell of The Woodlands, who turned 14 last week, eliminated Kingwood High School’s Damin Strydom, 1 up. Two months ago Strydom won the Class 6A Region III individual championship at Eagle Pointe as a freshman.
“Feels pretty good,” said Ezell, who was 2 down through seven holes. “It was a tough match. I had a good match on the back (nine). We had a good time.”
This is the second time Ezell has played in this tournament. “Last year when I played I was 12-years-old,” Ezell said. “And so everything was a little too long, but I think I lost 1 down on (hole) 18 to a 17-year-old.”
In Wednesday’s round of 16, Ezell will play fifth-seed Grant Lincecum, who won in 21 holes over Tyler Cushing.
While competing in the HGA Performance Series’ 12-14 age division, Ezell dominated. Ezell has won several times on the Legends Tour and is starting to play more AJGA events.
While Ezell has flourished in junior golf, Christian Rodriguez didn’t begin playing golf until two years ago. In Monday’s stroke play, the 16-year-old from Waltrip shot a 3-under-par 69, tying Zakary Jones of Klein Collins for the second-lowest round.
Rodriguez earned a bye in Tuesday’s round of 64, but lost 2 down to Sean Cleland in the round of 32, despite being 3 up at one point. Although he was eliminated on Tuesday, Rodriguez sees positives in his golf game as he’s come a long way in a short period of time.
“I played baseball my whole life until my freshman year in high school,” Rodriguez said. “I feel I’m as good as anyone else out here as a golfer.”
In the girls division of match play, the top two seeds advanced. No. 1-seed Natalie Cao of Sugar Land won her round of 16 match over Reagan Gray 3 & 2. No. 2-seed Tiffany Nguyen won 4 & 3 over Minji Kim. The 14th seed, Casey Kung, eliminated third-seed Nadia Davila in 21 holes.
By Richard Dean
HOUSTON, TX (July 18, 2017) – Junior Hernandez has been on the radar for some time. The junior golfer was ranked No. 1 in Texas in 2012-13, winning a STPGA Championship during that period.
A senior at Clements High School, Hernandez’s golf game is still progressing. On Monday at Memorial Park Golf Club, Hernandez’s 5-under-par 67 was the lowest score in the 18-hole stroke-play portion of the Greater Houston City Jr. Match Play Championship, conducted by the Houston Golf Association.
“I had one game plan today, just hit fairways and greens,” said the 17-year-old Hernandez, whose five birdies and eagle on the par-5 No. 8 hole offset two bogeys. “I went out there, birdied the first hole. I can’t complain. And after that, I just started rolling the rock (ball). Birdie after birdie. I had to come out strong the first day.”
Trailing Hernandez’s 67 were a pair of 69s shot by 17-year-old Zakary Jones of Klein Collins High School and 16-year-old Christian Rodriguez of Houston. The top seed for match play among the girls is 14-year-old Natalie Cao of Sugar Land, who carded a 73, one shot ahead of Nadia Davila of Houston and Tiffany Nguyen of Houston.
Hernandez, who was wearing an LSU cap during the round, is the top seed for the match-play portion, which begins on Tuesday. The lowest five scores for the boys received byes in Tuesday’s morning session, which will be followed by an afternoon session. The boys and girls championship matches will be played on Thursday.
Hernandez said it means a lot to be the stroke-play champion of such a prestigious tournament.
“I feel I have a lot of confidence going into match play,” said Hernandez, whose swing coach is Clay Edwards of Houston. “And hopefully I transition from today to tomorrow and the rest of the week. I feel confident. I just got to stick to my game and see where it goes from there.”
A year ago, Jones, who has played 10 competitive rounds at Memorial Park, qualified 57th at this event after stroke play and turned it on in match play, finishing third.
“It was a good comeback,” said Jones. “I’ll have probably a little bit easier match (Tuesday) than my first match last year.”
Jones’ 69 on Monday on Memorial Park’s 6,894-yard, par-72 layout is his first bogey-free round. Ever. Even the 65 he shot two summers ago at Victoria Country Club included a bogey with his eight birdies.
Following his round on Monday, Jones was beaming about his no-bogey round.
“It feels great,” said Jones, whose ball striking was spot-on in earning a first-round bye in the opening round of match play. Jones hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation, a remarkable achievement. “A lot of greens, putted pretty well. My proximity to the hole wasn’t great, but I was able to roll a few in.”
Hernandez opened with a front-nine 35 followed by a back-nine 32. Last month on this course playing in the Young Houstonian, Hernandez finished third with a final-round 66.
“This summer’s been good,” said Hernandez, who qualified for the Class 6A high school state tournament in May by earning one of three Individual spots in regional qualifying in April at Eagle Pointe Golf Club.
Cao is also having a superb summer on the course playing in HGA events. She won at Sterling Country Club and placed second at Eagle Pointe and Cypress Lakes.
LOCAL TEEN SELECTED TO COMPETE AT NATIONALLY TELEVISED PRO-JUNIOR EVENT, PURE INSURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP AT PEBBLE BEACH
LOCAL TEEN SELECTED TO COMPETE AT NATIONALLY TELEVISED PRO-JUNIOR EVENT, PURE INSURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP AT PEBBLE BEACH
Bellaire Junior and The First Tee of Greater Houston Participant, Eunice Bao, joins the 2017 field
HUMBLE, TX (July 7, 2017) – Golf Channel and The First Tee announced the names of the 81 junior players competing in this year’s Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach, Sept. 22-24. Eunice Bao, a ten-year participant of The First Tee of Greater Houston, is joining a field of junior golfers from across the country.
Internationally televised on the Golf Channel, the newly-named Pure Insurance Championship, now in its 14thyear, will continue to bring together the legends of the game alongside top juniors from The First Tee. The tournament is an official PGA TOUR Champions event, the first of its kind, in which junior golfers from The First Tee play alongside PGA TOUR Champions players as well as amateurs. They compete for the pro-junior title at the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Eunice Bao is 15 and an incoming junior at Bellaire High School. Her family moved to the Houston area from China in 2007. Soon after, Eunice and her sister, Ariel, joined The First Tee local chapter and attended classes at F.M. Law Park. Eunice is her American name; her birth name is Yuliang Bao.
“It is so exciting for Eunice to receive this recognition and have the opportunity to play at Pebble Beach with some of the legends of the game,” said Doug Earle, executive director, The First Tee of Greater Houston. “Her coaches at F.M. Law Park are proud of how hard she has worked to reach her goals and have enjoyed seeing her grow in the sport.”
Houston Golf Association holds the charter for The First Tee of Greater Houston, which is one of 165 chapters around the country. Serving the Houston community since 2004, more than a million local youth have been impacted through chapter programs. The golf-based programs are delivered through elementary schools, nine green grass facilities and other youth organizations like the YMCA. The curriculum is focused on helping participants build character through The First Tee Nine Core Values: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.
To request an interview or photos of Eunice Bao, please contact Amanda Hansen at email@example.com or 281-459-8702.
About The First Tee of Greater Houston
The First Tee of Greater Houston has been operating under the Houston Golf Association since 2004. The Houston chapter has expanded its reach into 461 area elementary schools and nine green grass facilities. More than 300,000 Houston-area youth benefit annually from the organization’s learning facilities and educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. Visit www.thefirstteegreaterhouston.org for more information.
HOUSTON, TX (JANUARY 20, 2017) – Houston Golf Association (HGA) announced that phase one construction of the historic Gus Wortham Park Golf Course renovation will begin following a groundbreaking ceremony, Friday, Jan. 20 at 11:30 a.m.. Located off of Wayside, near Lawndale, Gus Wortham Park Golf Course will close to undergo a renovation bringing the golf course up to modern standards while preserving its historic design.
On Dec. 31 2015, Houston Golf Association was awarded operations of the facility through a contract with the City of Houston. After working through mutually agreed upon operational transition, the HGA commenced management and maintenance responsibility of Gus Wortham Park Golf Course on Feb. 22, 2016 to operate the facility as 501(c)(3) non-profit self supporting enterprise. Under this structure, the HGA raises private funds for renovation and upgrading of facilities, as well as, reinvestment of cash flow for sustaining facility quality. It is through private funds and support from corporate partners that the Houston Golf Association begins renovation construction of the 108-year old golf course. A campaign is currently underway to initiate construction of phase two, which includes a new clubhouse and community center, educational space for local youth participating in The First Tee of Greater Houston, as well as maintenance and cart storage facilities.
“I’m excited to see HGA begin the renovation of Gus Wortham and restore the course to its former glory,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Once complete, the course and the scope of the overall project, will bring first-class amenities to the East End neighborhood and surrounding communities, while preserving an important legacy in Houston’s remarkable history.”
Situated along Brays Bayou and east of downtown, the Gus Wortham Park Golf Course continues to be an attraction for golfers since the early 1900s, when it was the Houston Country Club. The golf course has been played by many legends in golf including Francis Ouimet and Bobby Jones. All improvements to the 150-acre site will be performed with natural resource sustainability as an overarching principle. Phase one of the golf course renovation will overhaul the irrigation system for better water conservation, add a new irrigation lake for storm water retention, and reestablish creek banks while preserving the uniqueness and beauty of the original design.
“Working alongside the Houston Golf Association, we were able to ensure that the community’s needs were met and enhanced by this exciting restoration project,” said City Council Member Robert Gallegos, who represents the East End. “Gus Wortham is a jewel in our community that has the potential to offer not only a great golfing experience, but serve as a permanent home for a The First Tee youth development and enrichment program serving children in our area.”
Houston Golf Association worked with Council Member Gallegos to accommodate community amenities, including a trail connector, dog park, b-cycle station and space for community gatherings.
“Golf is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone,” said Steve Timms, president of the Houston Golf Association and The First Tee of Greater Houston. “The renovation of Gus Wortham, along with our continued efforts to reinvest back into our neighborhoods by improving public golf courses, helps the HGA further our mission to grow the game, at every age. It is our hope that the impact of our work will be felt for generations to come.”
The impact of the restoration of the Gus Wortham Park Golf Course will enhance quality of life for residents with a best-in-class recreational amenity, be a catalyst for economic development in the East End, and provide expanded educational opportunities for local area youth through programming by the HGA’s wholly-owned subsidiary The First Tee of Greater Houston.
The Houston Golf Association is working with golf course architect Baxter Spann of Finger Dye Spann on the project. Construction on the golf course begins immediately. Estimated completion of phase one is late 2017.
About Houston Golf Association
Since 1946, The Houston Golf Association has existed to make a difference in Houston communities and in the lives of our youth through golf and charity. An essential part of its impact is the Municipal Golf Initiative, which upgrades public golf facilities, beautifies green spaces, and creates a place to mentor youth through The First Tee of Great Houston program. With nearly 300,000 children benefitting already, these programs are a resounding success for the future of Houston. For more information go to hga.org.
2017 Shell Houston Open volunteer registration opens today, January 13 at 12 p.m. All past volunteers will receive an email with updated usernames/passwords and a link to the site to register. For more information visit shellhoustonopen.com/volunteers.
HOUSTON, TX (December 5, 2016) – The Houston Golf Association is expanding The First Tee of Greater Houston to better serve the Houston community. The First Tee, a nonprofit whose mission is to teach children core values, wellness and life skills through the game of golf, announces the addition of 38 new schools in its National School Program (NSP) beginning this semester and the addition of a new green grass facility at Battleground Golf Course in Deer Park. With this expansion, funded by the Houston Golf Association with proceeds from the Shell Houston Open and the new PGA TOUR Superstore, the Greater Houston chapter will serve the largest number of youth in The First Tee’s worldwide network.
Since 2004, the Houston Golf Association has held the charter for The First Tee of Greater Houston. By providing learning facilities and educational programs that build character, The First Tee enables students to develop skills including sportsmanship, respect and confidence while learning the game of golf. Programs take place onsite at schools as well as at, now, nine green grass facilities: Battleground, David Shindeldecker Campus (at Golf Club of Houston), Blackhorse, Quail Valley, F.M. Law Park, Sharpstown, River Plantation, Gus Wortham and Beacon Lakes Golf Courses.
The First Tee of Greater Houston serves 455 local schools and impacts more than 300,000 youth through its programs. By spring 2017, that number will grow to include an additional 26,000 students. New school districts joining the program include Alvin ISD, Brazosport ISD and Klein ISD. They join school districts already represented in the program including: Cy-Fair ISD, Clear Creek ISD, Conroe ISD, Crosby ISD, Humble ISD, Aldine ISD, Spring Branch ISD, Houston ISD, Fort Bend ISD, Alief ISD, Dickinson ISD, Galena Park ISD, Sheldon ISD, Spring ISD, Stafford MSD, Texas City ISD, Waller ISD, Willis ISD, Pasadena ISD, Huffman ISD, Katy ISD, Deer Park ISD, Pearland ISD, KIPP, New Caney ISD, Harris County Department of Education, and three private schools. In addition to the volume of schools, The First Tee of Greater Houston is expanding its green grass locations. Projections for 2017 forecast two new green grass sites throughout the year, bringing the total number from nine to 11.
“Thanks to the proceeds raised through the Shell Houston Open, new corporate partners and donors, we are able to expand our program into many new school districts in the Greater Houston area,” said Doug Earle, executive director of The First Tee of Greater Houston. “What excites us is that our impact on local youth is growing significantly. By teaching them wellness and character development through the game of golf, we are giving them skills that will last a lifetime.”
The program has flourished due to significant donations from the Shell Houston Open, in partnership with the Houston Golf Association. Since 1974, the two organizations, alongside volunteers, have been able to raise $64 million for local organizations—many of which benefit youth programs like The First Tee.
“Every year, we view our growth of the Shell Houston Open akin to investing back into the city of Houston and its surrounding communities,” said Steve Timms, president and CEO of the Houston Golf Association, president and CEO of The First Tee of Greater Houston and tournament director of the Shell Houston Open. “The Shell Houston Open continues to raise millions of dollars to support programs that are educating our future leaders and giving thousands of children a chance at a brighter future.”
The Shell Houston Open, the 10th longest running tournament on the PGA TOUR, will be played at Golf Club of Houston from March 27-April 2, 2017. Net proceeds from ticket sales will benefit The First Tee of Greater Houston and other core charities.
HOUSTON GOLF ASSOCIATION
For 70 years, Houston Golf Association has organized high-profile professional and amateur golf events in the Greater Houston area to support its mission to make a difference in Houston and in the lives of youth through its charitable programs. The HGA, a not-for-profit, tax exempt 501c(3) organization, is a prolific charitable fundraiser, bolstered by a strong group of members and volunteers. Visit www.hga.org for more information.
THE FIRST TEE OF GREATER HOUSTON
The Houston Golf Association holds the charter to The First Tee of Greater Houston. The First Tee is dedicated to impacting the lives of young people in the Greater Houston area by providing learning facilities and educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values, and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. The largest chapter in the world-wide network, The First Tee of Greater Houston operates nine green grass learning facilities across Houston and reaches more than 300,000 youth. The program is currently offered at 455 schools, and by 2020, the program goal is to extend into every public school across Houston, impacting the lives of more than 500,000 youth. Visit www.thefirstteegreaterhouston.org