The Takeaway: Host of a Ryder Cup and U.S. Open over half a century ago, Cypress Creek at Champions Golf Club is Houston's most storied championship course but lacks the terrain or architectural interest to be considered elite on a national level. Grade B
Designer: Ralph Plummer in 1959
Phone Number: 281-444-6262
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Champions Golf Club (Cypress Creek)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 13722 Champions Dr, Houston, Texas 77069 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: Champions Golf Club is a 36 hole facility located in northwest Houston 20 miles from downtown. Bayou City natives and former Masters champions, Jackie Burke Jr. and Jimmy Demaret, founded the club in 1957 under the premise that it would be focused purely on golf and comradery. In fact, players that applied for membership had to have a handicap under 14 to be considered for admission and the club is famously known for having one of the lowest handicap memberships in the country. Word has it that half of the members are single digit handicaps and 5% carry a 1 handicap or less. With golf being the central focus of the club, it should come as no surprise that the layout is designed purely as a test of skill. No gimmicks, no blind shots, and no reprieve. There isn't a par four under 400 yards, two of the par threes stretch over 225 yards, and trees line every hole. The large, undulated greens are heavily protected by either water or sand which helps give some character to the dead flat ground the course is stretched over. The Cypress Creek course gained notoriety early on by hosting the Ryder Cup 10 years after opening (1967) and the U.S. Open two years later (1969). In addition to five Tour Championships, Champions has hosted a U.S. Amateur (1993) and U.S. Women's Open (2020). Unfortunately like many championship host sites, Cypress Creek offers little architecturally to get excited about. Like many courses in Florida, the similarly flat terrain in Houston relies on a handful of water hazards to deliver some intrigue beyond the standard dogleg hole shapes that can be played on thousands of courses around the world. To the course's credit, the routing creates an easy walk and allows for holes to play in a variety of directions, but the highlight is surely the top notch conditioning and excellent par threes. Houston isn't known for great golf and Champions won't change your mind of that opinion, but Cypress Creek is certainly one of the best tests in Clutch City and easily carries the most impressive championship resume.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 4th Hole – 226 Yard Par 3 – Playing over a corner of Cypress Creek, the par three 4th hole is the most memorable hole found at Champions Golf Club. Tipping out at 226 yards, the tee shot is not for the faint of heart and requires a minimum of 200 yards of carry to find safety. A lone bunker sits on the right side of the putting surface to add defense against players trying to bail out away from the creek that meanders along that side of the hole. The large green features subtleties that can push putts just enough to roll over the edge rather than drop in the cup, so play a bit more speed and stroke it with confidence.
Best Par 3: 12th Hole – 231 Yards – Another lengthy one-shotter over the water akin to the 4th, the 231 yard 12th looks like a hole Pete Dye would design with wood planks supporting the edge of the land and fronting the green with all carry required to find the putting surface. Bunkers are found right of the green to catch balls that bail out away from the water flanking the left. This par three is famous for being the last hole that Ben Hogan ever played in professional competition. Sitting 11 over during the Houston Champions International Golf Tournament, Hogan's leg pain became so severe he could no longer move on and withdrew from the event after this hole. Us mere mortals may want to withdraw due to the pain our ego is sustaining at this point in the round because the Cypress Creek course simply never lets up on its challenge.
Best Par 4: 7th Hole – 452 Yards – One of Champions' most difficult holes, the dogleg right 7th requires an accurate tee shot straight away in order to set up a good look on the testing approach. The second shot into the green features a pond running up the left side that terminates once it reaches the front of the narrow green that features a bunker on the right, another in the rear, and then a left side that slopes swiftly away to a chipping area near the tree line. The approach shot into this green is perhaps the most demanding from an accuracy perspective on the course with a tight target and nowhere to comfortably bail out to.
Best Par 5: 5th Hole – 512 Yards – At just 512 yards, the par five 5th should feel like a reprieve in comparison to all of the long par four players face on the front nine at Cypress Creek. This hole doglegs left halfway through it and plays to a green that has been raised from the surrounding terrain with a quartet of bunkers surrounding it. The front of the green is receptive to balls bounding on the ground, so if the wind is up then a low skipper into the putting surface could be just what the doctor ordered. The raised green and undulated putting surface is what makes this hole the most compelling of the three par fives at Cypress Creek.
Birdie Time: 9th Hole – 512 Yard Par 5 – Again, at just 512 yards from the tips, this should feel like a chance to exhale after dealing with so many long par 3s and 4s up to this point. A hole that doglegs right midway through the fairway, a tee ball that leans toward the tree line on the right will be rewarded with a shorter approach into a green that is slightly raised and protected by a trio of bunkers. The putting surface is twice as wide as it is deep so it is common to have pins fully protected by sand on the flight line of your approach shot. Like the 5th green, the front is open and receptive to aerial or ground shots but to get close to certain pin placements will certainly take a towering aerial approach. Ultimately though, this short par five should be taken advantage of by either reaching it in two, or laying up close and wedging it tight to the day's pin location. Walking off the front nine with a birdie on the final hole is just the momentum you need before taking on the back.
Bogey Beware: 11th Hole – 502 Yard Par 4 – At just 10 yards less than the previous two par fives you've played up to this point, the par four 11th can play longer since it is straight with no chance of cheating off some yards through a dogleg. A pair of fairway bunkers flank the left side to catch long ballers who don't stripe it right down the middle. The approach shot plays to a green flanked by Cypress Creek on the left and a bunker on the right, so there is nowhere to bail out to if you aren't feeling confident with your second shot that is likely coming in from over 200 yards away. There is nowhere to hide on this hole, you have to stripe a pair of shots to get up by the green and hope your short game doesn't fail you upon arrival.