APRIL 23, 2012
It was 55 years ago when lifelong friends
Jack Burke Jr. and Jimmy Demaret decided
to create a golf club in Houston. Champions
Club is what it would come to be called,
and it has seen its share of golf history.
The American team routed the Great
Britain squad in the 1967 Ryder Cup, back
when that was largely routine and the
Europeans were not yet part of the festivi-
ties. Arnold Palmer won a PGA Tour event
at Champions in 1966.
Orville Moody, better known as
“Sarge,” won the 1969 U.S. Open at Cham-
pions. An amateur named Ben Crenshaw
won the Southern Amateur there in 1973,
and John Harris won the U.S. Amateur
there in 1993.
Tiger Woods won one of the four Tour
Championships played there, as did David
But it is the Champions Cup Invitational
that really captures the essence of the
club. Started in 1961, this event, played
last week, is one of the premiere four-ball
events in America.
It’s a 72-hole mid-am tournament
played on the famed Cypress Creek course.
Players are required to walk and, until
recently, were required to wear slacks
as well. Names like Downing Gray, John
Grace, Randy Sonnier, Mike Rice and Kevin
Marsh appear on the winner’s trophy.
Two things contribute to the special-
ness of this event. First is the golf course.
Chances are you have never heard of the
architect – Ralph Plummer – but that’s
okay, since most people suspect he got
quite a bit of “help” from Burke and Dema-
ret. One of two courses at Champions, the
par-71 track stretches out to just over 7,300
yards. Its distinctive features include tree-
lined fairways and very large, very swift
greens. On the so-called “walk in the park”
test, Cypress Creek is a wonderful stroll.
back to the game. He doesn’t have a lot of
time for today’s pro posse of instructor,
psychologist, trainer, etc. And he worries
that today’s private golf clubs cannot sup-
port all that has been put on its shoulders
– fitness centers, swimming pools, fancy
dining rooms, etc.
Some might consider Burke, nearing
90, to be hopelessly old school. Most oth-
ers, however, appreciate him and the club
he built. Observed Crenshaw some years
ago, “He commands authority in the game.
People listen to Jackie Burke.”
This is included in your Champions Cup
entry fee, and it may be the best deal in
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