Don't 'manage' your game at Redstone - thump it, like Vijay

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

HOUSTON - John Daly should have followed the advice of Redstone Golf Club's head professional, Derek Crouse.

"My advice is, I'd step up to every hole with the driver," Crouse told recently.

Daly, of course, teed off with a 3-wood at No. 18, the first and only playoff hole of the 2005 Shell Houston Open at Redstone. He pulled it left into the water that runs most of the length of the hole, allowing Vijay Singh to win his third Houston Open in four years by making a routine par.

Singh pushed his drive right into the rough, but had an open shot to the green at least. There was some irony in the situation in that CBS golf analysts were admonishing Singh for using a driver.

Still, regardless of who hit what shot or who said what, Redstone remains a favorite of the pros, except for maybe Tiger Woods who skipped Houston. The tournament is scheduled to move across the street to the new Rees Jones-designed course. But, the pros are reluctant to make the switch.

"I've never heard one bad thing said about this golf course," Daly told the media after his loss. "I honestly think if Tiger would come here, he would love it, too, because it is a driver's golf course."

That it is.

Of course, there's a catch. You can't be a drooling gorilla off the tee here. You have to be able to hit it relatively straight. Still, there won't be any layups off the tee - no baby 3-woods or sissy long irons.

"That's why the pros like it so much out here," Crouse said. "They can step up and hit driver every hole. Of course, you can't hit it too far left or right, but you can't hit your driver too far, and that's what they like."

What's not to like? This is a man's course in other ways - no gimmicks like misplaced waterfalls, pot bunkers, railroad ties, split fairways, bizarre bunker complexes, greens that fall off into oblivion or the like. It's just 7,508 yards of mano a mano - a man and his driver.

"There's no tricks, no goofy holes where you can hit good shots and be penalized," Crouse said. "You sort of get what you see. It's not easy at all, but you don't have to hit miracle shots. If you hit good shots out here, you're going to have a good round."

There's nothing girly about the greens either.

"Other than No. 7, there's not a lot of tricky undulation," Crouse said. "There are curves and subtle movement, but you're not going to have three or four breaks on a 30-foot put or where the pin is going to be in an unfair place to get to."

The course rears up and displays its machismo in particular on the closing holes.

It starts with a long, straight par 5 on No. 15 with a huge oak tree blocking your approach on the right side of the fairway. Then, it moves to two long par 4s: the 474-yard 16th and the 475-yard 17th.

The 16th is tree-lined and the green drops off left to water with a series of bunkers right. If you land five yards short of the green on the 17th, you're in the water. Don't baby it.

No. 18 is "only" 448 yards, but there's water the length of the fairway left, which gobbled up Daly's 3-wood. If he had it to do over, maybe he'd hit driver.

The verdict

The course has other attributes other than just its length. It's very well-maintained, for example. It has a lot of pines and some oaks, but there's little rough to lose your ball in on this open and airy course.

On the down side, the course is part of a master-planned community and plays through a neighborhood and has a fair number of homes along the holes. That's one reason officials say they are moving Houston's only PGA Tour stop to the Jones course.

Also, the green fees are a bit pricey. It's $130 weekdays and $145 weekends, though those are constant year-round - no shilly-shallying around with seasons.

Places to stay

The Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa is a centrally located hotel for golf in the Houston area, sitting on an 18-acre tract of land smack in the bustling heart of the city, adjacent to the Galleria and Memorial Park

It looks like something an old, oil baron might have built to impress his missus. There are floor-to-ceiling wooded views, wood parquet floors, dark wood paneling and a roaring, gas fireplace in the big, comfortable lobby.

You can get a workout other than golf. The Houstonian Fitness Club and Trellis Spa is a massive thing - a 125,000-square-foot facility that has more than 30 certified personal trainers.

There are three pools, a rock-climbing wall, boxing ring, eight tennis courts and a full-court gym for basketball and volleyball. The hotel is also affiliated with the Redstone Golf Club, home of the Shell Houston Open. The hotel concierge can arrange tee times and transportation.

The hotel has 288 guest rooms, 32,000 square feet of meeting space and all the up-to-date technology business types could want.

Places to eat

Olivette is the Houstonian's main restaurant, serving American food - definitely try the Southwest salad with shrimp, but stay away from the mini-burgers - they are mini and few.

The Manor House is adjacent to the hotel, open daily for lunch and the Center Court Café is at the Houstonian Club.

Fast fact

One more pitch to the media from the pros on keeping the tourney at Redstone, from Greg Owen: "I wish they would play here next year. It's fantastic. It has everything. You've got to hit draws and fades, high shots, low shots. There's a bit of a breeze. It's interesting. You've got long holes and short holes. It's got the whole range. When you've got courses like that, people enjoy them - the good players, anyway."

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Lousy writer

    Jake wrote on: Apr 27, 2005

    This is awful. Worst story ever to appear on Golf