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The 18th Hole at The Club at Carlton Woods (Fazio Course)

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Fairway to Heaven

The Woodlands Area is a Golfer's Paradise

A lower back issue and foot surgery sidelined avid golfer John Green for over a year. He’s now fully recuperated, but because of the long hiatus, he considered giving up the sport. A 7-handicapper and a member of three private clubs in the Houston area over the years, he’d been consumed by the game for most of his adult life. Now, the thought of--literally--getting back into the swing of things seemed daunting. 

But a steady diet of tournament-viewing on TV and the allure of so many wonderful courses in The Woodlands area ultimately made a return to play irresistible. “Just when I thought I was out, it pulled me back in again,” he laughs.

If the love of golf is like a fever, the opportunities for play in the greater Woodlands keep the fever spiking. “We live in a mecca for golfing,” says John. “People come in from other parts of the country on business, and they can’t wait to play our courses.” 

Across the Houston area, there are more than 165 public and private courses, and the number in the North Harris/Montgomery County area continues to grow. In addition to The Woodlands Country Club and The Club at Carlton Woods, just north of The Woodlands is Woodforest Golf Club, and in Conroe, players can hit the fairways at West Fork, Wedgewood, and River Plantation, among others. Further north, in Montgomery, the first Tiger Woods-designed course, Bluejack National, was completed in 2015. And from Tour 18, the developer of Spring’s Augusta Pines, Windrose, and Gleannloch Pines courses, comes the new Highland Pines Golf Club, located east of The Woodlands, near the Grand Parkway in Porter.   

The culture of golf is engrained in this area, says Thomas Hutton, executive director of the Southern Texas PGA, which covers the Houston, Austin and San Antonio regions, and is one of 41 PGA of America sections in the country which serve 800 members who work within the industry. “The golfing landscape in The Woodlands area is thriving.”

Here and across the nation, says Thomas, the sport of golf experienced a boom during the pandemic. “Golf since COVID is up across all metrics, anywhere from 15 to 30 percent, including rounds played, equipment purchases, lessons, and club membership,” says Thomas. At The Woodlands Country Club, for example, the club continues to see extremely high activity year over year, well after the social distancing aspect of COVID has waned. 

Texas has always been a golf-centric state and is the most-represented state in the country at the World Golf Hall of Fame, says Thomas. The big names of Texas golf history include Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Bruce Lietzke, as well as Jimmy Demaret and Jackie Burke, Jr., who founded the illustrious Champions Golf Club in the Cypress Creek area of Houston back in 1957. 

“We have the perfect ecosystem for golf to be great in this state,” says Thomas. That ecosystem, says Thomas, is nurtured by local PGA programs for the entire range of players, from entry level to the highest level. This month, the STPGA will hold the Chevy STPGA Junior Championship at The Woodlands Country Club, the largest annual junior event in Texas. Thomas says the focus is on providing young players with the experiences that serve as an on-ramp to the future, fostering a lifetime of play.

The challenge, the comradery, the scenic outdoors, all combine to create a sport that serious amateurs like John never tire of pursuing to its fullest. When he retires someday, he says he’ll use all that extra time to master his game on some of the great local courses in our area. “I’d like to play five times a week, and I’d like to shoot my age at some point in my life.  That’s a goal!”

  • John Green ponders a shot on the Panther Trails course of The Woodlands Country Club. "We live in a mecca for golfing," he says.
  • The 18th Hole at The Club at Carlton Woods (Fazio Course)
  • Early love of the game fosters a lifetime of play. (courtesy of STPGA)
  • The Chevrolet STPGA Junior Championship returns to The Woodlands Country Club July 26-28. (courtesy of STPGA)
  • Hole no. 10 of the Nicklaus Course at Carlton Woods
  • The Palmer Course, The Woodlands Country Club (courtesy of STPGA)