Local Knowledge: 2011 Shell Houston Open

By T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer
Published on
Local Knowledge: 2011 Shell Houston Open

The Shell Houston Open is under way this week at Redstone Golf Club in Humble, Texas. It's the last chance for players to sharpen their games before next week's Masters. We caught up with Charlie Epps, the PGA Director of Golf at Redstone, who told us about the incredible field, including local favorite and University of Houston product, Fred Couples. Thanks so much for joining us, Charlie. The Houston stop on the PGA Tour has become a major before the first major, of sorts. Why is it that Redstone is in such high demand by the world's top players the week before the Masters?

Epps: The condition of the golf course is perfect. The Houston Golf Association does a great job with player hospitality and Houston is a great city. Last year, your winner was Anthony Kim. It was one of the few highlights for AK, who spent much of the rest of the season healing from thumb surgery. Physically, Kim looks better than ever this year. What is it about Redstone that fits the eye of a player like Kim?

Epps: I think Rees Jones did a great job designing a golf course for the modern day player. Long and fast with great greens. We can't talk about anything Houston without mentioning University of Houston product Fred Couples -- one of the most beloved players to ever play the game. He's a former Shell Houston Open winner too. While he's enjoying incredible success on the Champions Tour, is Couples still a guy who can't be ruled out as a potential winner on the PGA Tour? Particularly in Houston?

Epps: Freddie has the talent to win anywhere, any time as long as his back holds up. There's plenty of international flavor in the field this week. Is there anyone, above all, you're truly looking forward to seeing up close?

Epps: I think Vegas is a great story and will play well. Lee Westwood is a world-class player who adds a lot to the field. It's great to have them here. Finally, Charlie, along with winning the Shell Houston Open comes the final invitation to the Masters for those players not otherwise exempt. What's it like to see a guy's reaction to all that comes with winning your tournament?

Epps: It's wonderful to finish the week on a high note all of the hard work put in by the player who wins it's a great reward to play the next week in the Masters.