Category: Amateur Golf
By Richard Dean
The former TCU golfer had his share of near misses in an attempt each year to being called the Houston area’s top amateur golfer. But for the weekend of Oct. 2-4, 2020, Leiss was the best player around. Leiss’ 1-over-par 211 was 2 shots better than runner-up Houston Martin (League City) in winning the 2020 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Golf Championship.
“This is just a blessing. I’m so grateful and thankful,” said Leiss, who has been head golf coach at Houston Christian High School the past 11 years and has accrued a long list of accomplishments as an amateur golfer and club champion. “It’s wonderful at 62 years old, and playing once a week, to come out and put it together.
“Every once in a while I play well enough to compete well. I just focused on speed (of the greens), not making any double bogeys and try to keep (the ball) below the hole.”
Leiss, who plays out of Royal Oaks Country Club after previously being a longtime member of Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity, put together rounds of 70-69-72. In Saturday’s second-round 1-under-69, Leiss hit all 18 greens in regulation.
William Shock (Pasadena) and 2016 champion John Dowdall (Fulshear) shared third at 5-over 215 in the 54-hole tournament conducted by the Houston Golf Association.
In the city amateur, Leiss’ best finish is second in 2003. Counting this year, Leiss has placed in the top five of the senior city am four times over his six years playing this event.
Leiss credits much of his golf success to his longtime friend Jack Sturdivant, an accomplished amateur who finished fifth this weekend in the super senior division at age 71.
“He’s the guy I really owe this to,” said Leiss, who has won the club championship at Whispering Pines twice and has won club championships at Royals Oaks Country Club and Riverbend Country Club.
Making the win special is that it occurred at Gus Wortham Golf Course, which is managed and maintained by the Houston Municipal Golf Association, an operation of the Houston Golf Association, on land that once was the original Houston Country Club.
“This has unbelievable history and I’m so glad they kept it,” Leiss said.
The place where the golf cart originated, Houston Country Club was the site of the famous Ben Hogan-Sam Snead match played in 1964 and aired on TV in 1965 on Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf. It was the final head-to-head match between the legends. Years earlier Bobby Jones played in a prestigious amateur tournament on this site.
“This is an unbelievable piece of property,” Leiss said. “It means a lot to win this tournament at Gus Wortham.”
This is the second straight year that Houston’s premier amateur tournament has been played at Gus Wortham, located just minutes southeast of downtown Houston, after moving from Memorial Park Golf Course.
“We were a little disappointed that we were moving from Memorial to here,” Leiss said. “Some of us because that’s such a great tract. We had no idea how great this was. And there’s not anybody who’s disappointed anymore because these greens are some of the hardest I’ve ever played, and I’ve played from Winged Foot to Augusta National to Pebble Beach. I’ve played all those courses and these greens are amazing.”
Gus Wortham has won the approval of the amateur players and is one of the top daily public golf courses in the Houston area for recreational golfers as well.
What makes the greens a true test is the numerous undulations, difficulty in reading, and the pace. Leiss had to be focused at all times when sizing up a putt during the senior city amateur.
“I never once stopped thinking about speed on the holes in the three days I played here,” said Leiss, an independent insurance agent. “If you ever take your mind off the speed once, you’re in trouble. You have to get the speed right out here or you’re going to three putt. You can’t be too aggressive.”
Competing at TCU from 1977-80, Leiss faced top competition and his game was tested by some of the best college players at that time. That included Fred Couples (Houston), John Cook (Ohio State), Hal Sutton (Centenary), Bob Tway (Oklahoma State), Payne Stewart (SMU) and David Ogrin (Texas A&M).
Leiss’ first year playing in the Houston city amateur was 1991 when he placed fourth.
A highlight of Leiss’ was at age 49 he played Augusta National, site of the annual Master’s, from the back tees and shot even par. He’s also qualified for the U.S. Senior Amateur and has played in the U.S. Amateur Public Links.
In 1978 Leiss teamed with Sturdivant to win the Golfcrest Four-Ball championship after just meeting each other 10 days earlier.
“He and I, 10 years later hooked up and we’ve been playing once a week every week for close to 30 years,” Leiss said. “Jack has helped me a lot. I call him my mentor and teacher.”
Who says golf lessons don’t pay off?
Lynn Cormier is proof positive that with the right instruction, a person can elevate their golf game. At any age.
Cormier, who did not even pick up the sport until age 40, started his sessions in 2007 at GolfTEC from director of instruction Doug Strawbridge, going from a 16 handicap to scratch in just three years.
The lessons are still paying dividends for Cormier, now at age 68. On Saturday, Cormier won the super senior division of the 2020 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Golf Championship at Gus Wortham Golf Course.
“I wish I would have started (playing) younger,” Cormier said. “When it’s on it’s on, and when it’s off, it’s golf.”
Cormier’s game is usually on, and he’s made up for lost time. Capturing the Houston city senior amateur in his division for the first time is the latest of a long list of accomplishments on the links for the Missouri City resident who plays out of Sweetwater Country Club, where he is a seven-time senior club champion and where he won the club championship in 2014.
At the 2014 World Handicap Challenge in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Cormier tied for low gross from among more than 3,000 competitors. In addition, he was named senior club player of the year at the Houston Amateur Golf Channel Tour in Houston. All in all, Cormier has won tournaments at the local, state and national level.
In the 2019 super senior division at Gus Wortham, Cormier shared third place. This year, his 4-over-par 146 was three less shots than Gary Noto (League City) and Kent Samuel (The Woodlands), who shared second place at 7 over. Last year’s winner Chuck Reeve (Houston) finished fourth at 8 over.
Cormier, whose career low round is 65 at Sweetwater, shot even par over the final 18 holes over Gus Wortham to secure the victory and first-place trophy of the tournament that is conducted by the Houston Golf Association. He came into the final round in third place at 4 over, just a shot behind first-round co-leaders Matthew Martin (Houston) and Jamey Freisleben (Montgomery).
For Saturday’s final round, the weather was ideal for golf on a sunny day with high temperature in the low 80s.
“The weather was perfect, the course is in great shape, it’s a fun course,” said Cormier, who is a regional product manager for United Rental Trench Safety.
For the super seniors, Gus Wortham played to around 6,000 yards.
“It wasn’t a long course, you have to hit fairways and keep it in play, and the greens are the tough part of that course because if you miss the green, it’s pretty hard because the greens are so fast,” Cormier said. “If you missed it, you had a hard time getting up and down for par.”
Cormier’s strength is his driving and short game.
“I have a really good short game, chipping up and down,” Cormier said. “This weekend I kept (the ball) in the short grass and I putted real well. I handled the speed of the greens really well which is critical.”
Everyone has a different story on how they got involved in golf. For Cormier it was when he married his second wife Lu, an avid golfer.
“I told her you can get rid of those clubs because you will never catch me playing golf,” Cormier said. “We went to a friend’s house one day and he lives on a golf course and we went and hit balls on the range and I was like, ‘Wow, this could be fun.’ You hit that one good shot and you get hooked. That was it.”
Cormier credits GolfTEC and Strawbridge for his development as a competitive golfer. They pretty much started Cormier with the basics, changing his grip as well as his full-swing mechanics.
“I had no consistency on my swing before,” Cormier said. “When I hit the ball I didn’t know where it was going. Now I have a direction and an aiming point to start at.
“It worked out well because you could see it on the monitors and you could see your ball flight, see your swing in slow motion. That’s what helped me a lot, I could see what I was doing wrong instead of somebody telling you what you are doing wrong. I work really hard on my game. You just have to work at it.”
After 36-holes David Leiss leads the Greater Houston Senior City Amateur. After three birdies in a row on the back nine, Leiss finished with a one-under, 69 for the round and even par for the tournament. Lurking right behind is 2016 champion John Dowdall, sitting at one over par after two days. Scott Smith and David Bonham are tied for third at three-over for the event. The championship at Gus Wortham Park Golf Course concludes tomorrow.
The first round of the Greater Houston Senior and Super Senior Men’s Amateur at Gus Wortham Park Golf Course is complete. Houston Martin, of League City, is at the top of the senior division leaderboard. With three birdies, Martin finished at one-under, 69. Close behind, David Bonham sits in second place with an even par, 70. Ending the round with a one-over, 71, 2016 Champion John Dowdall is tied for third along with David Leiss and Tod Mitchell.
In the Super Senior division Matthew Martin and Jamey Freisleben are tied for first with a three-over, 74 after round one. Lynn Cormier, of Missouri City, sits in third place with a four-over, 75. Five players follow close behind tied for fourth. The 36-hole event for the Super Senior division will conclude tomorrow.
By Richard Dean
At age 14, Hartford began playing in junior tournaments conducted by the Houston Golf Association. The same volunteer-based group that annually runs the Greater Houston City Amateur Golf Championships.
Playing the city amateur for the first time, Hartford navigated the short, but difficult, Gus Wortham Golf Course better than anyone, winning the 2020 championship by a whopping 6 shots, shooting a 7-under 273.
From starting as a junior golfer to city champion in eight years speaks volumes about Hartford’s game.
“I played HGA junior golf and junior golf my whole life through them,” said the 22-year-old Hartford, a Conroe resident who graduated from Klein Collins High School and Texas A&M-Commerce. “And I played the junior match play which is pretty big here.
“So it’s pretty cool to come back and win the actual (city) amateur championship.”
And win the championship he did. Hartford overcame a shaky opening nine holes, which included two double bogeys, in Friday’s opening-round 1-over 71. But Hartford came out firing on Saturday, shooting a 5-under-65 and positioning himself into contention heading into Sunday’s 36 holes.
On the final day, Hartford shot a 3-under 67 in the morning and a respectable even-par 70 in the afternoon. Justin Kaplan of Houston and Kyle Maxwell of The Woodlands shared second at 1-under 279. But Kaplan, who plays out of The Club at Carlton Woods, was awarded second place based on the tiebreaker as his final-round 66 was better than Maxwell’s closing 68.
For Kaplan, it’s his fourth runner-up finish in this tournament. He finished fourth last year here.
“I’m kind of the Phil Mickelson of the city am,” said Kaplan, referencing Mickelson’s six runner-up finishes without a win in the U.S. Open. “I’m going to keep trying, I hope this second-place finish doesn’t keep going on. I’m going to give it a run again next year, but it’s always fun to play here and play well.”
Kaplan’s 66 in Sunday’s afternoon round, which included eight birdies, was low score of the round, an impressive showing with the wind picking up. Kaplan, winner of the 2017 Carlton Woods Invitational, switched putters following his morning-round 71 and that move proved beneficial.
“I hit it really well all day,” said the 32-year-old Kaplan, who began the final round 10 shots back of Hartford. “I just putted awful in the morning. And this afternoon I started making putts.
“I was so far back, I was 3 over going into the final round and I knew I had to put up as low of a score I could shoot. I think I did. I played pretty well, he just played great.”
Helping Hartford achieve success was that he made changes as well throughout the three-day tournament.
“First day, I didn’t really have it, not playing great,” said Hartford, who put together rounds of 71-65-67-70. “Second day, I came about an hour-and-a-half before my second round and putted, hit a lot of balls, and something clicked.
“Then a great round (Saturday), 65. One of my lowest rounds in a tournament. And today just kept it going, very consistent. Probably one of the better putting weeks of my life, so it was really fun.”
Normally a par-71 for recreational golfers, for the city amateur the course played as a par 70 totaling around 6,400 yards.
“The greens were in unbelievable shape,” Hartford said. “The greens got really fast this afternoon and they did a great job taking care of it. It plays pretty tough for a short course. I was surprised at how hard it actually ended up playing.”
Shaheen Momin of Sugar Land finished fourth at even-par 280. Patrick Burke of Houston was fifth at 2-over 282 followed by Nick Marlow at 3-over 283.
Not only was Hartford playing in this event for the first time, he had never played Gus Wortham until three weeks ago, a Saturday before he qualified at Hearthstone Country Club.
Hartford was beaming with delight as he held up the winner’s trophy following what he called his biggest individual accomplishment in golf. But his victory wasn’t without a few bumps.
After making birdie on the No. 1 hole in Friday’s opening round, things got a little dicey. He made double bogey on the second hole. He three-putted No. 7 hole as well and found himself at 3 over before making the turn.
“I birdied the first hole and jokingly told my dad, ‘Hey, I’ve been birding the first hole a lot lately, maybe that jinx is over.’ I proceeded to double (bogey) the next hole,” Hartford said.
“I don’t know if I thought I had a chance to win, the cut was almost in my mind at that point. Am I going to make the cut?”
Making the cut proved to be no problem based on his second-day 65. From there it was pretty much smooth sailing for Hartford, as long as he didn’t do anything foolish.
“I knew I was in control at that point,” said Hartford, who is working towards his master’s degree at Texas A&M-Commerce and works for a defense contractor. “So I, not coasted, but I was able to hit fairways and greens and try to shoot somewhere around even (par), which I did.
“I kind of knew no one was going to make a run. I tried to shoot as well as I could without trying to get too aggressive and do something dumb.”
He didn’t, and as a result Hartford has his name on a trophy that hundreds of golfers around the Houston area go after every year.
Jonathon Welch took the outright lead after carding a second consecutive three-under par 67. Blake Hartford sits in second after an impressive second round 65, which included seven birdies and two bogies, bringing him to four-under. Shaheen Momin and Russell Chabaub are lurking right behind tied for third.
The final day concludes tomorrow with round three and four and is sure to provide a great championship. See the full leaderboard.
The Greater Houston City Amateur Championship kicked-off today at Gus Wortham Park Golf Course. The championship, hosted by Houston Golf Association, draws the top amateur golfers from across the Greater Houston area.
Round one finished with a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard. Kyle Maxwell of The Woodlands, Jonathon Welch of League City and Tyler Barnes-Wolf of Houston lead the field with a three-under, 67.
The field of 144 will be cut to the low 40 scorers and ties after Saturday’s second round to set the stage for a 36-hole finale on Sunday. See the full leaderboard.
By Richard Dean
One of the most accomplished amateurs in the history of Houston golf, Mike Booker is putting together a resume worthy of being in the hall of fame.
Actually, he’s already a hall of famer. Booker is a 2019 selection into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame. He will be inducted on Oct. 14 at Brackenridge Golf Course in San Antonio in the amateur category.
Booker added to his legacy on Sunday, winning the 2019 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship for the fourth time, giving him eight city championships. Booker, who successfully defended his senior title, has won the city amateur four times.
“It’s a little crazy,” Booker said. “If somebody would have told me I would have won eight city ams, that would have surprised me. You never know what to expect, all you can do is just go out and play and not take yourself too seriously and do the best that you can do. Sometimes it works out like it did today.”
Booker seized control of the tournament during Sunday’s final round, rallying past 2016 champion John Dowdall for a 4-under-par 67 over Gus Wortham Park Golf Course to beat Dowdall by two shots. Gary Durbin, winner of this event in 2012, finished third.
Playing a twosome ahead of Dowdall, who led after each of the first and second round, Booker, 64, won this one coming down the stretch. Dowdall, who played superbly for the first 50 holes of the three-day, 54-hole tournament, bogeyed three of the final four holes.
Striking the ball more crisply on Sunday than he did during Saturday’s second round, Booker carded rounds of 71-70-67 for a 5-under-208.
“I had a different swing thought today, and that made all the difference,” said Booker, a member of the 1977 national championship golf team at the University of Houston. “I hit the ball really as good as I’m capable. I never really got in trouble, it was like night and day.”
Making the victory more enjoyable for Booker was that he was competing against friends and playing in what he feels is the best city amateur championship in the United States, conducted by the Houston Golf Association.
“It’s probably the greatest city am in the country because the HGA does such a great job of running it,” said Booker, who plays out of River Oaks Country Club. “It almost feels like a professional tournament and Houston has the best players, having played against them for 40 years. So when you beat a great field in a great city on what has turned out to be a great golf course, all I can do is smile and feel good about that.
“All these years compete against these guys literally for 40 years, part of that is that satisfaction that I’m still competing, still being competitive, and part of it is that most of my friends are still around and still playing. So that’s very fulfilling and satisfying.”
Dowdall, who played with Durbin in the final twosome, put together rounds of 67-71-72. The Fulshear resident finished 3-under 210, one shot better that Durbin, who shot 73-68-70 for 2-under 211.
“I played well for two-and-a-half days, back nine got me,” Dowdall said. “I played solid, just didn’t make the putts and didn’t finish well. A few bogeys coming in, let it slip away.
“Mike played really well, a 67. That’s a really good round out here.”
For the second straight week Dowdall let a final-round three-shot lead get away. A week ago Dowdall couldn’t close the deal in the Texas Golf Association’s Texas Senior Amateur at The Deerwood Club of Kingwood, won by Durbin.
“I got to get the Sundays down,” Dowdall said.
For Durbin, its two top-three finishes in prestigious back-to-back tournaments.
“It’s always good to finish in the top three in the city,” Durbin said. “It’s been a good two-week run. I’m playing well. Mike played great to come back and win.
“Gus is a fun course to play. It’s short, tricky, a lot of it is in the greens. They did a great job in the redo of the golf course. It’s very short but it’s very tricky and you have to be patient. It was a good week. I’m happy to finish third and there’s two great players ahead of me.”
Booker got it done by being Mike Booker, a consistent golfer who understands how to manage a golf course as well as his game. Booker’s consistent, doesn’t get in trouble often, and is a good ball striker. That’s what it takes to beat the best senior amateurs in the Houston area on a regular basis.
With Memorial Park Golf Course in the process of being renovated and unavailable for play in 2019, the HGA held the senior city amateur for the first time at Gus Wortham, receiving praise from golfers who competed in the senior amateur as well as players in last week’s city amateur.
“It surprised me that it’s in such good shape as it is. I enjoyed it,” Dowdall said of the 6,400-yard layout. “It’s a bit of a challenge, they have some tough pins, but it’s a nice course. You’re going to have to have the accuracy or you’re going to make bogey.”
Gus Wortham plays short in yardage, but it can be a good test of golf. Golfers need to get their golf balls on the correct section of a green or a tough two-putt awaits.
Booker offered his take on the municipal golf course, which originally was Houston Country Club.
“This is absolutely a classic thinking man’s golf course,” Booker said. “You really need to know where to place the ball off the tee. More importantly, you need to control where the ball is on the green, make sure you don’t miss it on one particularly side per hole, because it’s a strong enough golf course that if you put your ball in the wrong place, even on the green or close to the green, it’s going to be difficult to make par.”
It’s victories like this that has Booker getting a well-deserved spot in the Texas Golf Hall of Fame.
“I’ve known for a couple of months and I still can’t think of the right way to describe it,” Booker said. “Winning a tournament is a real ego boost and gives you that great feeling, but it fades away. But being inducted into the hall of fame has staying power. I’ve very humbled by it, it’s a terrific thing.”
By Richard Dean
For close to 40 years Chuck Reeve played four-wall handball at an elite level. The Houstonian, who picked up the sport as a student at the University of Texas, won five national championships and four world titles counting singles and doubles. He also won the Houston open championship in handball 10 times.
Reeve’s focus has shifted to golf, a sport he excelled in at Memorial High School while winning an individual district championship, and continues to excel since taking up the game again in 2005.
In October, the 68-year-old Reeve won the Super Senior division (age 65 and above) of the Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Golf Championship for the second time in three years.
“It’s extremely satisfying to be able to come back to a sport that you grew up with and I kept abreast of it all those years,” Reeve said. “I thought of myself as a golfer even if I wasn’t playing.
“To win it is extremely satisfying because Houston, you’re drawing from not just Harris County, but all the counties touching Harris County.”
Reeve won the 2019 tournament, conducted by the Houston Golf Association, at Gus Wortham Golf Course by three shots over Jamey Freisleben of Montgomery.
Reeve, who plays out of Northgate Country Club, shot rounds of 72-72 for 2-over 144. Reeve’s eight birdies over 36 holes tied for the most in the Super Senior division with Freisleben, who compiled rounds of 76-71.
Sharing third at 7-over 149 were four players – David Bean (Houston), who closed with a low-round 1-under 70, Steve Bueltel (Houston), Mark Johnson (The Woodlands) and Lynn Cormier (Missouri City).
After the opening 18 holes on Gus Wortham’s 6,038-yard layout, Reeve held a one-shot advantage over Cormier and Cypress’ Ivan Lawson, who eventually finished in a tie for seventh at 8 over.
On the second and final day, Reeve birdied the 18th hole, by making a delicate 6-foot downhill putt to secure the victory. He added the winner’s trophy to the Super Senior division hardware that he picked up by winning the event in 2017 that was played at Memorial Park Golf Course.
“I came to the last hole not knowing how I was doing, but I decided I had to make birdie in case I needed a birdie to get to the playoff,” Reeve said. “I found out I didn’t really need it, but I was sure happy to have done it.
“It’s fun to win. On the last day, I was grinding really hard.”
On the final day, Reeve displayed his excellent short game. On the front nine, he got up and down six times for par en route to a 1-under 35 at the turn.
“I was missing the ball in good spots,” Reeve said. “I’d learned, Gus Wortham. I’d played it several times and I learned that you can’t be long, you got to be short. If you miss you got to be short so you can get up and down and have a chance.
“That’s what I was doing. I didn’t play all that great, but I was getting up and down. And I did hit a few good shots. I had four birdies each day.”
With Memorial Park Golf Course unavailable for the 2019 Houston city amateurs because of renovation, Gus Wortham Golf Course, which is operated by the HGA, was the site of the Houston city amateurs.
“The course was in great shape,” Reeve said. “Not nearly as long as Memorial, but it’s tricky. I enjoyed it. I’m fine going back.”
The 2019 tournament was Reeve’s fourth time playing in the event since turning 65. In 2016, he shared second place with two others, one shot behind the winner. Reeve had three top-10 finishes in seven appearances in the regular senior city am.
By Richard Dean
For the longest time over the weekend it was a foregone conclusion that John Hunter was going to win his second Greater Houston City Amateur Championship in much the same manner in which he won his first one five years ago. In dominating fashion.
Hunter did beat the field, and his trophy for winning the 2019 Greater Houston City Amateur Championship at Gus Wortham Park Golf Course is proof of that, to go along with winning the event in 2014. Hunter won five years ago by a whopping nine shots.
The win in 2019 didn’t come as easily for Hunter, even though at one point in the tournament he reached 10 under and had a commanding nine-shot advantage.
Devaughn Robinson, who was the city amateur champion in 2017, made Hunter work for the victory. Despite his large lead in the second round, Hunter, 35, lost all of that lead to Robinson and in Sunday’s fourth and final round had to overcame a four-shot deficit over the final three holes to beat Robinson by two shots for first place in a battle of past champions.
“This one was a bit of a rollercoaster,” said Hunter, a financial advisor who plays out of The Club at Carlton Woods. “I was able to get a little momentum the first two rounds, and today I was just trying to stay relevant and climb my way in.”
Hunter and Robinson distanced themselves from the field over some of the Houston area’s top amateur golfers.
In the first year the city amateur has been played at the restored Gus Wortham Park Golf Course, managed by the Houston Golf Association, Hunter finished the three-day, four-round tournament at 5-under 275. Robinson finished at 3-under 277. Tyler Uhlig of Magnolia was third at 1-over 281.
“I don’t feel bad about the tournament,” Robinson said. “I played OK, I’m proud of myself. I’ll be back. I held my own. This is just more motivation. I feel I’m coming into form, I’m not there yet. I had enough this week to win.”
After opening with a 73 on Friday, Robinson, 31, got into contention with a 6-over 64 on Saturday. Robinson played Sunday’s final 36 holes in rounds of 69-71.
But the final three holes on Sunday was Robinson’s undoing. Going into the 16th hole with a comfortable four-shot lead over Hunter, Robinson played the final three holes at 4 over, including a double-bogey 7 on the par-5 17th hole after he pulled his tee shot into the water on the left.
“So close,” Robinson said. “I played a pretty solid round this morning. I felt I did what I needed to do with a windy day and tough pins. I played 33 really good holes. I just made some really loose swings coming in and ultimately that’s what it boiled down to.”
While Robinson, who played brilliantly on Sunday on most of the holes, struggled down the stretch, his playing partner Hunter birdied holes 16 and 17 to go up by one shot.
“John is a phenomenal golfer,” Robinson said. “When we were coming in, I knew I was going to have to play some really good golf to catch him. He did what a champion does, finish strong and hung in there until he saw an opportunity and capitalized. That’s a true champion.”
Hunter had started Sunday with a sizeable seven-shot lead entering the final 36 holes and still led by three (-7, to -4) after the third round with 18 holes to play. Then Robinson, a Houstonian who plays out of Cypresswood Golf Club, took over, and with three holes remaining was 7 under to 5 under for Hunter.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do the rest of the way in and Devaughn was hitting it steady, flagging it and making putts and doing all of that, and I was just trying to stay in it,” Hunter said. “Somehow I popped a good tee ball on 16 and was able to convert the putt (for birdie) and put a little pressure on. Hit a great tee ball on the next hole (17) and made one of my better up and downs in the tournament to make birdie, and found my way in.
“He just had a little slip up last three holes and it compounded. He hit the ball way better than I did.”
Hunter, who played college baseball at Purdue, has always played well in the Houston city amateur. He moved to Houston in 2008 from Indiana and first started playing in the city am in 2012, placing third. In addition to his 2019 and 2014 wins, Hunter finished second in both 2015 and ’16, and shared fourth in 2018.
“It seems somehow I get myself up and ready for it,” said Hunter, who particularly likes the 6,395-yard par-70 layout of Gus Wortham. “I always look forward to this tournament. I came out Wednesday and saw the course and said this is a good course.
“I always look forward to the event. It’s always a fun one to play in, you get your buddies coming out and playing and meet a few new guys. Heck, just seeing a course like this and to be able to play in conditions like this, it’s one of the best courses I’ve played all year and it’s a city course.
“The greens are great, the bunkers are good, the layout …what they’ve turned this into. This is way better shape than we played Memorial the last few years and Memorial was never in bad shape. With this renovation, they’ve done a heck of a job with it.”
First opened in 1908 as the original Houston Country Club, Gus Wortham was restored in 2018 and is now operated by the HGA through a contract with the city of Houston.
I love the golf course,” Robinson said. “I’m definitely going to be back and I’ll be an advocate to getting people to come out and play.”
Marshall Piper of Cypress leads the 2018 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship with a 1-under, 71, after round one. Right on his heels, Ron Byrd sits in second with an even par 72.
2015 Champion Mike Booker is tied for third with a 1-over 73 alongside Bill Tanner and Craig Hulbert.
Defending champion Buzz Baker, of Richmond, is tied for sixth with a 3-over 75, with 2012 Champion Gary Durbin.
The second round begins, Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 7:30 a.m. Follow live scoring here.
By Richard Dean
Make it six for the Schroeder family. Even though Grant Schroeder has a ways to go to match his father Ron’s affinity to winning Houston’s most prestigious amateur golf tournament.
Ron Schroeder is a five-time winner of the Greater Houston City Amateur Championship, conducted by the Houston Golf Association.
On Sunday at Memorial Park Golf Course, Grant Schroeder showcased his golf game. And now the son can be called a Houston city amateur champion and have his name on the trophy like his father.
Grant Schroeder, a resident of Montgomery, shot a final-round bogey-free 4-under 67 on to win the tournament, shortened to 54 holes due to rain, by two shots over Justin Kaplan of Houston, who finished second for the second straight year and third time overall.
“My dad’s won it quite a bit and it feels good to win something he’s won, to follow in his footsteps a bit,” said Schroeder, whose previous best finish at the city amateur was third in 2016.
The 26-year-old Schroeder completed the three-day, three-round event at 7-under 206. Defending champion Devaughn Robinson of Houston was third at 4-under 209. Kaplan and Robinson began the final round tied atop the leaderboard at 4 under, after Saturday’s second round was suspended due to adverse weather and that round completed Sunday morning.
John Hunter of The Woodlands and the 2014 winner, was fourth at 2-under 211. Katy’s Todd Albert, who led after Friday’s first round by two shots after shooting a 5-under 66, finished fifth at even-par 213.
Schroeder, who played college golf at Sam Houston State after graduating from Montgomery High School, said he never was pressured by his father to win this tournament that the elder Schroeder won in 1992, ’93, ’95, 2000 and 2005.
“My parents have been great telling me about going out and having a great time and having a good attitude,” Schroeder said. “You’ll get the wins if you put the work in. I myself put a little bit of pressure on me just because it’s something that my dad’s won quite a bit so I want to get a win too and get my name on a trophy that his is on. I’m proud of that.”
Schroeder was too young to remember his father’s early success in the Houston city amateur. And his father has never been pushy about specifically giving his son tips on how to the play Memorial Park golf course or what it takes to be the best amateur in the Houston area.
“Not really here, but just in general he’s given me a lot of advice on my golf game,” said Schroeder, who plays out of High Meadow Ranch Golf Club. “He’s coached me since I started playing a little later than most (serious golfers). We all grew up playing baseball. But once I started playing golf in middle school, he’s my biggest fan.
“And that goes a long way. But as far as this tournament in particular, he doesn’t say much. It’s the same as every one of them. Go out there and play well.”
Play well Schroeder did all weekend, and in crunch time. In the final round, Schroeder birdied holes 1, 8, 14 and 16, distancing himself from Kaplan and Robinson.
“I know how good a player Grant is,” Robinson said. “He’s quiet and his game is steady. When I play in tournaments, every time I look at a leaderboard, he’s near the top.”
Prior to his superb closing round, Schroeder carded rounds of 68-71.
“I was real solid,” said Schroeder, who drove the ball remarkable well and was sound with his iron play. “I felt good where I was at. I like this course, it sets up longer players. It was really long for being so wet.
“I feel I can always win when I come out. That’s the mindset I like to have. I played well already in this tournament, so I felt like I could do it.”
Kaplan and Robinson also played great golf, but fell a little short to the talented Schroeder. Even though he has not set up a schedule, Schroeder said he is planning on becoming a professional golfer with thoughts of starting out on the Adams Tour.
Robinson, who beat Kaplan in a one-hole playoff to win the Houston city amateur last year, led for several holes on Sunday, finishing with a final-round even-par 71 following rounds of 70-68.
“I beat myself,” said Robinson, easily one of the premier amateur players in the Houston area. “Every time I made a move, I made simple mistakes.”
Robinson, who played college golf at Texas Southern, teamed with Craig Lurie to win the Champions Cup Invitational at Champions Golf Club in April.
Kaplan, the 2017 Carlton Woods Invitational winner, had rounds of 70-68-70.
“It was a great week, but I didn’t have my best stuff all week,” said Kaplan. “I had to rely on my putter.”
Kaplan birdied the par-5 16th hole by making a 30-foot putt to close within a shot of Schroeder, who was in the next-to-last pairing with Hunter, just ahead of Kaplan and Robinson.
On 17, Kaplan just missed a birdie attempt on the low side that would have tied for the lead if the putt had dropped. On the final home, and needing a birdie-3 to force a playoff with Schroeder, Kaplan pushed his tee shot in the right rough. That negated any realistic opportunity for birdie and the ever-improving Kaplan had to settle for another second-place finish.
“I gave it a try,” said Kaplan, who played collegiately at Minnesota and the University of Houston.
Bart Worthing, of Weston Lakes and the 2012 Houston city amateur champion, tied for sixth at 1-over 214. Sharing sixth with Worthing, who shot 69-73-72, were 2011 champion James Bartell (Houston), Hunter Bott (Montgomery) and Wilfredo Sanchez (Spring).
Due to weather, the competition will be shortened to 54-Holes, making round 3 the championship round. Please see below for the procedures on the completion of rounds 2 and 3.
Round 2 Completion
Round 2 was suspended at 6:50 p.m. today. We ask everyone that needs to complete round 2 to be in position ready to resume play at 8:20 a.m. tomorrow. Your scorecard will be returned in the morning at check-in. If your pairing changes due to a withdrawal we will let you know at check-in.
The range will be open at 6:30 a.m. to allow you to warm up.
If you do not plan to return tomorrow, please email firstname.lastname@example.org letting us know as soon as possible.
Round 3 – Championship Round
After the completion of round 2 tomorrow morning the field will be cut to top 40 and ties. If you make the cut, tee times for round 3 will begin at approximately 12 p.m. tomorrow. We will email pairings for round 3 as soon as they are available
You may follow the leaderboard here.
Please check for email and text messages in the event of changes.
Todd Albert of Katy shot 5-under par to take a two-stroke lead over Grant Schroeder and Russell Chabaud at 3-under in round one of the Greater Houston Men’s City Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course.
Not far behind John Hunter, 2014 Champion, Bart Worthing, 2012 Champion, Trevor Sauntry and Kyle Smith sit at 2-under.
2017 Champion, Devaughn Robinson, is tied for eighth at 1-under, with 2011 Champion James Bartell, Justin Kaplan, Clay Fullick and Terrin Anderson.
The second round begins, Saturday, September 29, 2018 at 7:30 a.m. Follow live scoring here.
Will Promote Digital Golf Instruction To Kids, Amateurs
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (January 23, 2017) – Secret Golf Inc., one of golf’s fastest-growing digital media instruction companies, today announced a partnership with the Houston Golf Association (HGA) on a significant youth initiative in the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Secret Golf will provide an annual membership to its leading online instructional golf platform to HGA Junior Golf and The First Tee of Greater Houston members as well as the participants in the Houston Golf Association’s two amateur championships — the Greater Houston Men’s City Amateur and the Greater Houston Men’s Senior City Amateur. This joint effort between Secret Golf and the HGA will reach thousands of youth and amateur golfers annually throughout the Greater Houston region and beyond.
“As most people know, Houston is home to me and I’m so glad we can partner with the Houston Golf Association on this project. Kids need to get the right message as soon as possible and there’s no better way than learning from TOUR professionals and the Secret Golf platform,” co-founder Steve Elkington said. “All of our players grew up supporting a junior golf program somewhere. This is special for me because when I was young growing up in Australia, I had to take a train for 20 hours from Wagga Wagga to Sydney to spend a weekend learning from the great teacher Alex Mercer. Now, everything is digital and I’m glad we have the ability to reach so many kids and amateurs in our area.”
“Partnering with Secret Golf to offer golf instruction is of great benefit to our programs as we aspire to grow the game of golf and make it accessible for all,” said Steve Timms, president and CEO Houston Golf Association. “I know our HGA Junior Golf and The First Tee participants, as well as amateurs, will be excited to learn from TOUR professionals and some of golf’s greats.”
The initial program will be for 2018 and will offer access to Secret Golf’s instructional curriculum and exclusive library of video content from PGA Tour and LPGA Tour players. Registration information will be available on both secretgolf.com and HGA.org.
About Secret Golf
Secret Golf is one of the world’s fastest-growing digital golf media companies and is the industry leader in golf instruction by Tour professionals. Secret Golf is the first company of its kind, owned by Tour professionals who passionately believe in sharing deep insights into the game of golf. Secret Golf is the first to have personalized online video instruction from Tour professionals who play or have played the game at the highest level and features a multi-platform online media distribution strategy — social, smart TV, web, mobile and partner content syndication.
In addition to Steve Elkington, Secret Golf’s growing team from the PGA Tour/Web.com Tour includes World Golf Hall of Fame member Jackie Burke, PGA Champion Jason Dufner, Bronson Burgoon, Jason Gore, Brian Harman, Patton Kizzire, Colt Knost, Jason Kokrak, Lee McCoy, Ryan Palmer, Pat Perez, Martin Piller, Chris Stroud and Ethan Tracy. Team Secret Golf’s LPGA staff features, two-time LPGA Tour Player of the Year Stacy Lewis, U.S. Open winner Brittany Lang, Gaby Lopez and Gerina Piller. Former Tour player turned instructor Bradley Hughes of Australia rounds out the group of professionals.
For more information about Secret Golf, please visit www.secretgolf.com and join us on Facebook: SecretGolf, Instagram: Secret Golf and on Twitter: @SecretGolf
About Houston Golf Association
Houston Golf Association (HGA) and its member volunteers make a difference for Houston communities and their youth through golf, outreach programs, events and fundraising. Founded in 1946, HGA is a not-for-profit, tax exempt 501(c)3 organization and host organization to the Houston Open. Houston Golf Association operates The First Tee of Greater Houston reaching 350,000 youth annually and HGA Junior Golf hosts amateur golf events and works with the City of Houston to restore municipal golf courses and amenities. For more information go to www.hga.org.
Director of Communications
Secret Golf, Inc.
VP of Marketing/Communications
Houston Golf Association
By Richard Dean
Buzz Baker vividly remembers the 3 ½-foot putt he missed in a 2007 playoff on the 18th green at Memorial Park Golf Course that denied him an opportunity to win the men’s city amateur championship.
On Sunday, on the same green and facing a putt of similar distance on the same side of the hole, Baker sealed the deal to capture the 2017 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship.
“Close to the same putt I missed 10 years ago and I wasn’t going to miss it this time,” said the 55-year-old Baker, who was eligible for the senior tournament this year for the first time.
Actually Baker’s lead was substantial enough that he could have missed that final putt on the No. 18 hole and won easily. Baker shot a final-round 5-under-par 67 on Sunday for a 5-under-par 211 to win the 54-hole tournament by 5 shots over runner-up Gary Durbin, who was at even-par 216.
Scott Smith finished third at 1-over-par 217 and Hunter Nelson was fourth at 2-over-par 218 in the tournament conducted by the Houston Golf Association.
Baker broke from the pack atop the leaderboard and distanced himself from the contenders with four consecutive birdies on holes 14-17.
“It’s very humbling,” said Baker, a mortgage banker for Houston-based Network Funding, LP. “Great people out here, kind of the same fraternity of guys over the years. A bunch of great people. I’m usually happy for the other guys so it’s really nice to be on the receiving end for once.”
Durbin, Nelson and Marshall Piper were all tied at 2-under going into Sunday’s final round. At the conclusion of the round, Piper was assessed a 4-shot penalty for having 15 clubs in his bag. With the penalty, Piper was at 4-over-par 220, and a share of seventh place.
Durbin, who won this event in 2012 and is a two-time Houston city am winner, shot rounds of 70-72-74.
“I’m very pleased with the second-place finish,” said the 60-year-old Durbin, an All-America golfer at Penn State in 1979. “When you’re leading, you’d like to finish it off. Today was an opportunity to win the senior twice.”
The tournament was close until the final five holes. Baker was playing two groups ahead of the final twosome of Durbin and Piper, who opened Friday’s first round with a 69. And then the ever-popular Baker turned up the heat.
“I hit a good drive on 13 and didn’t birdie 13,” Baker said. “So I said, ‘Gosh, we’re going to have to birdie the hard ones.’“
On the 14th hole, Baker hit his approach about 6 feet above the hole. On 15 and 16 respectively, he placed his approach shots about 18 inches and 10 inches from the hole. And his uncanny shot making continued when the former Stephen F. Austin golfer’s second shot on No. 17 stopped 6 feet of the pin.
“Catching Buzz was tough duty today,” said Smith, who had rounds of 75-69-73. “That’s awesome to bear down and get it done. It’s awesome to be in the moment and actually perform and get it done. That’s exceptional. That’s impressive.”
Baker, who plays out of Shadow Hawk Golf Club, carded rounds of 71-73-67.
“Buzz has been a very good, long-time amateur here,” said Durbin, a deputy chief commercial officer of TMK IPSCO, a global steel pipe company, and who plays out of Champions Golf Club. “Very good player, very steady.
“He got it going. At Memorial, the greens are so good, you can make some putts here. You just have to be hitting the ball well. Today, 5-under is very strong. It was the toughest day to score.”
Baker is a popular player among the amateur golfers in the Houston area. Other golfers were complimentary of Baker’s round and were sincerely happy for him in his prestigious win.
“He’s a fine man and he’s a great guy and everybody likes him,” said the 58-year-old Smith, who is retired from the oil and gas business, and plays out of Northgate Country Club. “He’s a good player, so I’m pleased for him.
“Houston is a very tough place to compete. Whether it’s the city am or trying to qualify for a USGA event. It’s tough. There are a number of good players in Houston.”
Three players are tied for the lead at two-under par going into the final round of the the 2017 Greater Houston Senior City Amateur Championship. There is sure to be a shoot out on Sunday when 2012 champion Gary Durbin (70-72), Marshall Piper (69-73) and Hunter Nelson (69-73) tee it off at Memorial Park Golf Course. Scott Smith and Buzz Baker still in contention as they enter the final round tied for 4th at even par.
In the Super Senior division, Chuck Reeve from Houston wins the 2017 Greater Houston Super Senior City Amateur Championship. Chuck defeated Gordon Norwood on the first playoff hole. After finishing their final rounds at even par, Reeve defeated Gordon Norwood on the first playoff hole. The top two battled each other and the tough rough at Memorial Park Golf Course for 37 holes. David Leestma from Seabrook finished in third with a two-day total 145.
Justin Kaplan continued his strong play in round two. He followed up his bogey free 65 with a second round 68 which included five birdies. The 2015 Greater Houston City Amateur champion Matt Van Zandt also kept his impressive play going and remains in second after a second round 69, which included an eagle and three birdies. Devaughn Robinson and Chris Causey are lurking back in third and fourth place respectively.
The final day concludes today with rounds three and four and is sure to provide a great shootout. Follow live scoring here.
Justin Kaplan shot 6-under par to take at two-stroke lead over 2015 Champion Matt Van Zandt at the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur at Memorial Park Golf Course. A.J. Vesey and Devaughn Robinson of Houston both shot 69. Todd Albert of Katy, Nick Marlow, Chris Causey, Jess Bonneau, and former Houston Golf Association Junior Golfer and 2017 Eddie Burke Senior Young Houstonian champion Henry Fisher all carded a one-under, 70.
The field of 144 will be cut to the low 40 scorers and ties after Saturday’s second round to set the stage for a 36-hole finale on Sunday.
HOUSTON, TX (Sept. 30-Oct. 2) – Broc Haymon of Pearland matched the tournament scoring record en route to a 3-shot victory over 2014 champion John Hunter in the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course. Haymon carded rounds of 72-65-68-70 for a 9-under-par 275 total. Hunter, runner-up the past two years after setting the 72-hole scoring record, posted rounds of 70-67-70-71.
Haymon, 28, and Hunter,32, were tied at 5-under after two rounds when the starting field of 144 was cut to the low 40 scorers and ties for the 36-hole Sunday finale. A total of 46 players made the cut with a score of 8-over-par 150.
Haymon opened a 3-shot lead over Hunter Saturday morning after three rounds. The former college baseball player led the field with 20 birdies over four rounds.
Grant Schroeder of Montgomery, whose father Ron won this championship five times, finished third at 4-under-par 280. Normally a par-72 layout, Memorial Park is set up as a par-71 for the Men’s Amateur.
Kyle Maxwell of The Woodlands and 18-year-old Walker Lee, the first-round leader, shared fourth place at even-par 284. A pair of 16-year-olds Shuai Ming Wong of The Woodlands and Ransom Jacobson of Humble shared sixth place at 285, a stroke better than Clint White, 26, of Friendswood.
Bart Worthing, 36, of Weston Lakes, the 2012 champion, finished at 287 and Devaughn Robinson, 28, rounded out the Top 10 at 288. The top 10 finishers and champions since 2011 are exempt for the 2017 event.
Defending champion Matt Van Zandt shot 293 and tied for 17th.
HOUSTON, TX (Oct. 9-11, 2015) – Mike Booker shot 72-66-69 for a 9-under-par 207 total to win the Greater Houston Senior Men’s Championship for the second time in three years. Booker was three shots clear of Marshall Piper of Cypress, who shot 69-70-71. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX (Oct. 2-4, 2015) – Matt Van Zandt shot 70-71 on Sunday to win the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course by two shots over defending champion John Hunter. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX (October 12, 2014) – David Pocknall of Katy shot 71-71-73 for a 1-under-par 215 total to win the Greater Houston Senior Men’s Amateur Championship by 3 strokes at Memorial Park Golf Course. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX (October 5, 2014) – John Hunter never looked back as he recorded a 9-shot victory at the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX (October 17, 2010) – Jerry Hudgins captured his third Greater Houston Senior Men’s Amateur championship and Wayne Harris of Missouri City won the Super Senior Division at Memorial Park Golf Course. Read More »
HOUSTON, TX – (October 10,2010) – Kip Guidry of Missouri City birdied the final hole to avoid a playoff and win his second Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course. Read More »
Hunter Nelson of Houston shot 70-74 for an even-par 144 total and a one-stroke victory in the 2009 Greater Houston Senior Amateur Championship at Memorial Park. Doyle Sturman of Montgomery shot 76-72–148 to capture the Super Senior Division for golfers 65-and-over. Read More »
Owen Joyner, a 52-year-old resident of Montgomery, shot 69-68-76-69 to win the Greater Houston Men’s Amateur Championship at Memorial Park Golf Course. His 2-over-par 282 total was three shots better than runner-up Andy Cooper of The Woodlands, who carded 69-70-74-72. Read More »