If anyone is going to save the venerable Houston Open, it will be Astros owner Jim Crane.
Still riding a high from the Astros’ World Series victory last fall, The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Crane has sent a proposal to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.
Crane proposes an October date to keep the event alive, obviously on the cross-over portion of the schedule.
As of now, the Houston Golf Association isn’t part of Crane’s plans but he would welcome the HGA’s return to the fold.
Per the Chronicle, Crane and about 10-12 of his very well-heeled buddies are prepared the guarantee the $12 million a year outlay for five years that the tour demands.
Crane is proposing that mid-October date in the fall of 2019, with the tournament continuing to be played on the Golf Club of Houston course at least through 2020, pending a move to Houston’s public Memorial Park course following a massive redo. The 64-year-old global shipping and logistics magnate, a St. Louis-area native who made his fortune after moving to Houston in 1980, said he’s willing to take a lead fundraising role for that project as well.
Typically it is hard to attract big-name players to the fall events.
No problem, says Crane.
The ultra-multi-billionaire says he can call in a favors. He has gotten to know Monahan personally, and he’s close to Rickie Fowler and Dustin Johnson because they play regularly at The Floridian, a well-known club in Palm Bay, Fla., that Crane purchased in 2010 and spent millions on a total restoration. Fowler once threw out the first pitch at an Astros exhibition game during the Shell Houston Open.
“I’ve got four or five big-name pros behind me,” Crane said. “They’ll come. We’ll have a great field, I guarantee you. And Butch Harmon (the iconic golf instructor with close ties to the Houston area who operates one of his golf schools at the Floridian) would definitely be involved. We’re all good friends. It’s a friend deal. They’ll help. They understand our situation.”
The important thing is that Crane can guarantee the $60 million the PGA Tour wants to keep the Houston Open around, which, in the end, shows what is most important to the PGA Tour.