The Takeaway: Tour 18 is a novelty course that is a better concept on paper than the ground. The notoriously flat ground in Houston doesn’t catch the essence of several holes Tour 18 attempts to encapsulate, particularly those of Augusta National that rely on hilly terrain, making the course more enjoyable as a standalone offering than a replica course. Grade C-
Designer: David Edsall in 1992
Cost: $65 - $125 Click for current rates
Phone Number: (281) 540-1818
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Tour 18 Golf Course (Houston)'s official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - 3102 Farm to Market 1960 E, Humble, Texas 77338 – UNITED STATES
What to Expect: The Tour 18 group has two courses in Texas; one in Dallas and one in Houston. The concept behind each course is to replicate some of the best and most famous holes that have been featured on the PGA Tour and tie them together in a routing that works for the property. While that can be a fun concept, it works much better in a fantasy situation, such as a video game, than it does in real life because the single biggest factor that goes into a hole’s design is the natural terrain an architect is presented with. The biggest takeaway people have after visiting Augusta National for the first time is just how hilly it is, so for Tour 18’s most iconic stretch to be Amen Corner from Augusta and to lay it out on flat ground is an anticlimactic moment. Those holes are fun to play on their own, but with the hype of replicating Augusta National, it is a downer because the holes don’t play anywhere near like the real thing. Some holes work better, such as the famous island green from TPC Sawgrass, because they are found on flat ground similar to the original course; though the drama of the setting of the real thing can’t be matched. Unfortunately the routing puts the best holes in the middle of the course which leads to an anticlimactic finish which was unnecessary considering the lack of constraints on the property. In the end, Tour 18 is a decent offering as a public course in Houston, but it is best enjoyed as a standalone course than as a replica course.
By the Numbers
|Tour 18 Combo
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 9th Hole – 140 Yard Par 3 – With TPC Sawgrass' 17th hole as the inspiration, the closing hole on the front nine is a do-or-die short par three. The base of the island green features wood planks and railroad ties just as the Florida version does and is surrounded by water that is full of golf balls. While Houston doesn't have the movement in the terrain to properly emulate holes from certain courses, this is a great replica of the real thing.
Best Par 3: 6th Hole – 155 Yards – Easily the best stretch of holes at Tour 18 are #5 - #7 where Augusta National's Amen Corner is the inspiration. The 6th hole is modeled after #12 at Augusta National which stands as one of the most famous par threes in the world and perhaps the most famous in major championship golf. The Hogan Bridge is on the left and Nelson Bridge on the right while the front and rear bunkers are in their proper place. The swirling winds that make this hole so difficult during The Masters can't be recreated, or the pressure of the tournament, but it is a fun recreation anyway.
Best Par 4: 5th Hole – 455 Yards – The most challenging hole at Augusta National's Amen Corner is the 11th and that is the hole emulated here. The tee shot threads through the pine trees that frame each side of the tee box and must be pumped out there with some distance for a legitimate chance of hitting the green in regulation. With a mock Masters scoreboard left of the water hazard flanking the left side of the green, players should keep their approach shot up the right and utilize the prominent hillocks found on that side of the hole. If you haven't said a prayer before starting Amen Corner, now would be a good time to do it.
Best Par 5: 7th Hole – 465 Yards – One world's greatest risk/reward par fives is modeled after here; Augusta National's 13th hole. While the current version plays longer now, the Tour 18 version utilizes the length that is more similar to 1992 when the course opened. With just 465 yards to cover, this hole becomes very reachable in two with the main defense being Tour 18's version of Rae's Creek cutting in front of the green. One of the things that makes Augusta's 13th hole special is the large movement in the terrain with the challenging sidehill lies it produces and the elevation drop that must be calculated. Houston's notoriously flat ground can't simulate this, but it is an enjoyable offering anyway.
Birdie Time: 3rd Hole – 335 Yard Par 4 – Though the real version plays longer now, the 3rd hole at the famed No.2 course at Pinehurst is emulated at the Birdie Time hole. With just 335 yards to cover, players are able to cut loose on a driver with a generous fairway awaiting. From there players will be able to put a wedge in their hand and go pinseeking to a green that isn't nearly as difficult to navigate as many of the Pinehurst greens are.
Bogey Beware: 18th Hole – 440 Yard Par 4 – A staple on the PGA Tour for 45 years before being removed in the early 21st century, Doral's Blue course in Miami featured one of the most famous finishing holes in golf. That hole is the inspiration behind Tour 18's finisher and will require players to be on top of their game to walk off with a par. Water runs the full length of the left side of the hole with the fairway bending left and making the hole longer if you bail out to the right. The design requires players to risk playing near the water on the drive or on the approach, but you have to confront it at some time. With the edges of the green sloping off towards the hazard, there is no safety for players that can't hold the green.