Golfers rally to save historic Gus Wortham Park Golf Course in Houston

Gus Wortham Park Golf Course
Gus Wortham Park Golf Course in Houston is the oldest 18-hole golf course in Texas.
By John Holmes

Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Saturday, November 02, 2013 | 6:31 p.m.

Like too many historic city golf courses, Gus Wortham Park Golf Course in Houston needs a little help. Fortunately, some significant assistance might be on the way.

Built back in 1908 as the Houston Country Club, Gus Wortham is the oldest 18-hole golf course in Texas. It became the Houston Executive Club in 1957, and the city bought it and renamed it in 1972. The course winds through a wooded green space along Brays Bayou only a few miles south of downtown.

Like many government-owned courses, Gus Wortham has struggled to stay in good shape in recent years, and there has been talk of repurposing the course for other non-golf activities, including relocating a botanic garden there.

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But a group called the Friends of Gus Wortham is petitioning the city to prevent that from happening. More important, the group has formed a non-proft corporation, and now can accept donations to help save the course and improve it.

The group is raising money for short-term improvements, according to The Houston Chronicle, and is talking with architect Baxter Spann about revamping the driving range and installing lights and automated ball machines to allow golfers to practice after sunset. In addition, Houston philanthropist Preston Moore Jr. has donated an undisclosed amount of money to the project, the paper said, and might kick in some more as the process continues. 

Eventually, the Friends of Gus Wortham would like to renovate the entire facility. According to the group's website, an estimated $9.2 million makeover would include fixing up the course; creating a new entrance to the facility and renovating and adding to the parking area; and building a new clubhouse, along with a new restroom and maintenance facility.

Joe Turner, the city parks director, is on board with at least part of the renovation effort, according to the Chronicle. But the group is still actively seeking golfers to sign a petition to prevent non-golf development on the site.