Golfers Appear To Have Won Gus Wortham

GOLFERS APPEAR TO HAVE WON GUS WORTHAM Gus Wortham Golf Course,  7000 Capitol St., East End, HoustonIt might not have sounded quite so explicit to all onlookers, but the Chronicle‘s Mike Morris declares yesterday’s city council vote a death knell for plans to build a botanical garden on the site of the Gus Wortham Golf Course. The vote was taken in support of city efforts to come to an agreement with the Houston Golf Association for a plan to renovate the 106-year-old course at Lawndale and Wayside in the East End, which the nonprofit would then operate. But, writes Morris: “If the city cannot reach terms with HGA, the mayor said, she will seek proposals from private golf operators rather than hand the site to the botanic garden backers, as previously planned.” The HGA will need to meet designated fundraising targets — likely $5 million of a possible total $15 million renovation cost — for its plan to proceed. Mayor Parker and councilmembers appeared eager to steer the group pushing for a city botanical garden 6 miles southeast, to the Glenbrook Park golf course outside the Loop along Sims Bayou, just east of the Gulf Fwy. [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: PGA

29 Comment

  • Hooray for the Gus.

  • A victory for golfers! Gus Wortham is a gem in the rough….and it is rough! If this course can get the same care as the Memorial Course, this course would become the number one public course in Houston. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  • This is a victory for golfers and for historic preservationists alike!

  • It really is a neat course, especially the holes near the bayou. I hope we can get it fixed up!

  • What a joke. It’ll just sit there and rot another 50 years only for the handful of golfers that claim they will use it. The gardens would have been a much better choice for the East End and would have attracted way more people than a silly old and mostly unused golf course. Gus Wortham Supporters, why not raise your voices instead in opposition to the hundreds of historical structures that have been and are being torn down around the city. That would have a been a more respectable cause.

  • Any of you who think that Gus Wortham will look any better in 5 years than it does today are smoking crack, plain and simple. And in 10 years, it may cease to exist as a golf course, instead sold by a city in need of funds to anyone willing to take it.

  • what a shame, go ahead and rejoice golfers because houstonians got screwed over on this one. are there any public amenities aside from state parks and nature reserves with a lower utilization per square foot than golf courses?

  • Potential for the BEST golf course in Houston. Unfortunately its has little hope of ever being built to its potential. Management isnt in place to make this any better and the sport is dying with the new generation coming up. Of course I have no interest in heading to a botanical garden that was never funded either.

  • This is awesome news. Sorry Nimbys, but this park belongs to all Houstonians. Just because you move in years after the place exists doesn’t give you the right to take it away from the city or make it to whatever thing you want. Houston needs golf, this place was there before you, it will be saved for future generations, so if you want to live by a garden go move by one.


  • Can we put up Brian’s comment as the COD (Comment of the Day)? Thanks for nothing, Brian.

  • No doubt Councilman Gallegos is happy that he got his way. If he runs for office again, I’m one of many who won’t be supporting him.

    Let’s see how long it actually takes to start the proposed improvements to Gus Wortham Golf Course. The vast majority of avid golfers don’t play public courses, so where is all that money coming from? Somehow, I can’t see Houston’s social movers and shakers throwing fundraisers for this project.

  • I appreciate the historic context of GW in relation to Golf, but this isn’t great news for the neighborhood around it, a Botanical Garden would have drawn a more varied group to the area and they may have left wanting to move or invest there, who knows. It’s laughable that anyone will invest the money needed to make GW a great couse again, the money simply isn’t there. As for Glenbrook, it’s an AWFUL place to put a Botanical Garden! Either put it in Memorial or Hermann or just drop it, nobody is going deep in the Eastend to visit a fucking Botanical Garden, believe me. I know the type that visit these things and you can forget it! The COH needs to stop trying to take these Golf Courses and just carve our land in Memorial or Hermann. Why exactly is it ok to save GW but sacrifice Glenbrook? Come on Annise, Christ get something right for a change!

  • I plan to move across from Memorial Park and request they tear down the sports fields and put in restaurants and other revenue generating ventures. I mean geez, those freeloading kids aren’t generating nearly enough revenue for the city. Plus, they aren’t homebuyers so the sports fields do nothing for the neighborhood except cater to an elite group of people who can only use the fields at one time. I shudder to think of the day when the COH is short on money and they let an apartment developer have at it.

  • There’s no evidence of any demand, current or future, for this site to remain a golf course. It’s the largest waste of City owned land in the city. However it’s no tragedy to have private money chip in and upgrade and maintain. The City can sit on it for the next few decades until someone comes up with another better idea. The population, now and in the future, won’t let it turn into something like a bunch of townhomes. It will always be a public space.

  • The city lost big on this one…art, education, conservation, pure beauty. Such is the stuff of botanic gardens. But instead we have a historic golf course no one plays on. Forget catering to the broadest cross-section of the community. Instead we get dimpled balls for a select few…turf protection (literally) and lack of vision won. In another generation, the way golf is dropping in popularity, no one will remember why it the darn place is supposedly historic. And who really cares where Howard Hughes played golf? Sad day for everyone but the few whiners who got their way..

  • Don’t be an idiot, the COH can’t sell one foot of Memorial or it reverts back to the Hoggs.

  • Is golf really dying out? I still see plenty of people at the range. And green fees are still high, which I’d imagine would be lowered a bit to draw in more people if needed.
    But eh, what do I know.

  • @Shannon,
    It’s called sarcasm. I was taking several arguments made against GW and showing how ridiculous they sound when you put them toward any other city owned sports facility. Kids and adults need a variety of cheap sports options in this city to stay active and healthy, and GW is one component of that in the COH parks system. Parks should never be about making money… period.

  • @Brian
    “Parks should never be about making money… period.”

    Let me know when I can walk onto GW for free, throw a blanket down on a green and take a nap. Only then does this statement make any sense for GW.

  • @Progg,
    You wouldn’t be able to do that at the Botanic Garden either. They will have an entrance fee no matter where they “settle”.

  • I am a big preservationist and also a golfer (currently on hiatus). Gus Wortham has great history, but that history has been largely lost with the demolition of the original clubhouse. The course design does not present much of anything that can be identified as being historic and worthy of preservation. It has been decades since any tournaments have been played there. And even way back when it was a tournament course, it really was not regarded as being anywhere close to the level of the big signature historic courses that host PGA events. The course is also very short as it was designed back when people were using wood shaft clubs and a drive of 200 yards was very impressive. There is no room to modify the course to add enough distance to bring it up to minimal modern standards. The only merit to the course is that it is very cheap. But that will change once it is renovated.

    A botanical garden would really open up the East side to major redevelopment and improvement. Just look at what parks have done in other parts of the city. Jaycee Park in Timbergrove got some nice upgrades and real estate in the area took off (even before the boom). Discovery Green has transformed the east end of downtown as Market Square is currently doing in the historic district downtown. An extension of the hike and bike path on Brays Bayou could have made the park easily accessible from UH and the Med Center by bicycle.

    Personally, I will like being able to go to Gus Wortham with my kids as it is a good course for new golfers. But turning it into a botanical garden would have been a much bigger benefit for the immediate neighborhood and the City at large.

  • “Instead we get dimpled balls for a select few”
    The entire idea behind a municipal course is to allow more the a “select few” to play.

    I just don’t get this assumption that a botanical garden is going to bring throngs of people to that area.

  • there wouldnt be all this controversy if the botanical garden supporters would just put some creativity into finding another suitable location. the golf course site would be a great location for it, but theres no reason why we should have to give up one amenity to gain another.

  • For those who care about such things, Gus Wortham is THE Houston-area golf course for minorities and working class people. There’s not a lot of privileged folks out there. I’d love to have a world-class botanical garden but let’s not do it at the expense of Gus Wortham.

  • @OldSchool,

    The “immediate neighborhood(s)” did not agree with you.

  • Why is it that so many people are fixated with having a botanical garden for the city of Houston so far out of the way of the dynamic core? Don’t we already have a botanical garden on the north side of town, the Mercer Arboretum? and how many tourists are going to go that far to see this? One would think to place this new botanical garden in Memorial Park where there are countless unused acres and build it in the proximity of the nature center , already in existence which would give the botanical garden a fantastic synergy. Would you drive , out of your way to the southeast part of town, outside the loop , if you were a tourist? As we all know there is absolutely nothing on the southeast part of town . Houston garden society and the powers that be just don’t seem to get it….Develope a city where attractions are close to each other, not spaced miles apart then plunk something , like the botanical garden in the middle of nowhere.

  • @Tom,
    You are spot on and highlight my biggest complaint with the garden idea… It’s a terrible spot for it. My sense is that people in the surrounding neighborhood are so desperate for any kind of positive change that they view a supposed tourist destination as a quick fix. Sadly, they’re fighting the wrong battle. If they want to improve the area, they should be looking at cleaning up Wayside Dr by working with mgmt districts and council. Wayside could be a beautiful corridor with cafes looking across at the golf course. With so many Hispanics in that area and rail, I think it would be cool if they tried to create a “Little Mexico” type tourist destination instead. Convince a bunch of awesome Mexican restaurants to move in (not Taco Bell), create a touristy (ie clean and safe) Mexican market. Make it gringo enough to appeal to out of towners so they’d come visit, yet still attract the locals in the neighborhood. If they had that,I know I’d be more inclined to visit the area for more than just GW.

  • Gus Wortham was the original site of the Houston country club. It and other golf courses are a vital part of Houston. The sport of golf is still alive and well. And, doesn’t have to be just for the suburbs. There are many people young & old who would benefit from Houston courses. We are a leading city in this nation, lets keep it that way and keep the young generation off the streets with a positive future.