HOUSTON -- There are many types of golf -- competitive, recreational and, perhaps the most important type of golf for many players, customer golf (or as many call it, taking care of business on the golf course).
The last, of course, you can't accomplish just anywhere. It needs to be conducted at an impressive golf facility, not necessarily over the top but one that offers comfort, good food and drink, and a nice test of golf in good conditions.
Houston has more than its share that fit the bill, but if I had to pick my top six, here they are, in no particular order:
The Golf Club of Houston
PGA Tour courses are always good for impressing clients, and this one is particularly impressive. Listed among the favorite courses played on the PGA Tour, The Golf Club of Houston's Tournament Course, designed by Rees Jones and David Toms, is prepped in the spring to mimic Augusta National conditions, so you know it's going to be good.
With a forecaddie required, the best practice facilities in Houston and a PGA Tour-quality clubhouse, the Golf Club of Houston (formerly Redstone Golf Club), is probably the most impressive public venue in Houston. The facility also includes the Dave Williams Golf Academy, which can tailor corporate instruction programs.
The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center
This former home of the Houston Open still offers two quality golf courses -- Panther Trail and the Oaks Course -- but more importantly for business travelers, accommodations, a large clubhouse, bar and dining area, and 60,000 square feet of meeting space.
The Woodlands Conference center can handle just about any size of company, too, with meeting rooms that range from small to very large. Then you can take them out to the golf courses, both of which have been renovated in the past decade or so and are usually in great shape.
Wildcat Golf Club
Location might not be everything, but it's certainly a factor for business travelers. The 36-hole Wildcat Golf Club is a just a couple of miles from Reliant Stadium (home of the Houston Texans) as the crow flies, close to the Medical Center area and just 15 minutes from downtown.
Your clients will enjoy the fact that Wildcat bills itself as the home of the Houston Texans, Astros, Rockets and Dynamo, with plenty of memorabilia displayed in its expansive clubhouse. Food and drinks are pretty good there, too, and the facility is adept at hosting corporate tournaments. For good measure, the two golf courses there, the Highlands and Lakes, are also pretty enjoyable and always in pretty good shape.
Memorial Park Golf Course
Located in the middle of Houston, the 90-year-old John Bredemus-designed Memorial Park Golf Course played host to the Houston Open for decades and still stages the city amateur championships. Better yet, though, for business types, the course and its clubhouse are a popular meeting site during the week.
Beck's Prime Restaurant -- which has some of the best burgers in the world and great salads, chicken and other dishes, too -- provides the food and beverage. And the driving range is lighted, drawing downtown and Galleria-area businessmen after work for practice.
Timber Creek Golf Club
One of the late Jay Riviere's best designs, Timber Creek Golf Club, has three nines (the Creekside, Pines and Timber Trails), so there's a lot of flexibility. Located south of the city in Friendswood, it's become a favorite among south Houston golfers for its conditioning and great customer service.
The course looks like anything but Houston (i.e., it's not flat) as more than 1 million cubic yards of earth were moved to create plenty of undulation in the fairways and greens. Add to that a 65,000-square-foot clubhouse, locker room facilities with showers, and a large lounge and open-air pavilion, and you've got the perfect environment to strike a business deal.
Tour 18 Houston
The original unoriginal course, Tour 18 Houston is the first course to feature replica holes of some of the most famous golf courses in the United States. Known around the country and located close to the airport, it's a great spot to impress clients, especially when it's in good shape, which is most of the year.
You can play Augusta's Amen Corner, the island green 17th from the TPC Sawgrass Players Stadium Course and the Blue Monster 18th of Doral, just for starters. Plus, the large clubhouse has a well stocked golf shop and relaxing bar and grill with some of the friendliest help around.