Golf Club of Houston hopes to send message after catching ATV vandals who damaged green

HUMBLE, Texas -- Officials at the Golf Club of Houston, site of the PGA Tour's Houston Open, are hoping that the apparent apprehension of two teenagers who vandalized one of the greens at the club's Tournament Course, will discourage similar acts in the future.

On Friday, June 23, a pair of teenagers from a nearby neighborhood (that would take 15 minutes to reach by car from the course, but only a couple of minutes with an off-road vehicle along the bayous) apparently rode an all-terrain vehicle across a bayou that borders the course and did significant damage to the 16th green.

Fortunately, security cameras were able to capture images of the boys and the ATV they were riding, and that helped police apprehend the suspects.

According to Sergio Salazar, general manager of Golf Club of Houston, officials and police caught a break, when the boys apparently returned the next day to ride along the banks of the bayou near the course.

Brian Buckner, (CGCS) who is the director of agronomy for the club, happened to see the pair as did an off-duty police officer, and they recognized the ATV, which had some distinctive aftermarket alterations. The officer followed the boys home, and the Golf Club of Houston (owned by Escalante Golf) has filed a police report.

By catching the culprits, Salazar hopes it sends a message.

"Don't do it," he said is the message he wants to send to anyone who thinks they can get away with these stunts.

Much to be resolved

The parents have offered to make restitution for the damages, which have yet to be fully assessed. The maintenance staff has already re-sodded the portion of the green that was damaged.

The silver lining is that it happened in June, long before the course is overseeded for next March's PGA Tour event. Fortunately, grass in Houston grows at a remarkable rate in June.

On New Year's Day 2016, someone carved out doughnuts on the same green, and repairs in January were a little more difficult.

Director of agronomy Brian Buckner says unfortunately his crew has too much experience fixing the 16th green, but has gotten good at it.

Said Buckner on his weekly blog for the club on June 30: "Unfortunately we are pretty good on these repairs with the amount of 4-wheeler damage repaired over the past couple years. Great job by team members Carlos, Daniel, and Antonio. Thank you everyone that helped keep an eye out for our course."

Golf Club of Houston hardly alone

And there have been other high-profile courses, too, victimized, most notably Trump National Los Angeles in Palos Verdes, Calif. Apparently political activists in March tried to send a message to the president protesting his environmental policies by defacing the picturesque fifth green, carving out large letters that said. "No more tigers, no more woods."

The group that takes responsibility for the damage remains anonymous.

Trump National L.A. is reportedly the most expensive golf course ever built at more than $250 million.

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in Houston. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America with an occasional trip to Europe and beyond, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 25 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeBaileyGA and Instagram at @MikeStefanBailey.
Commented on

Probably the parents will just continue to enable these kids.  I think the kids should have to work on the greens keepers staff for no pay until they pay off the damage.  Probably th first time they ever worked too

Default User Avatar
Commented on

So, will the culprits be punished and jailed like they should be?  Or will they just allow the apparently well-to-do parents to buy their kid's way out of the problem?

More from the author
6 Min Read
May 28, 2019
PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Golf is being redefined at Palmilla Beach Resort and Golf Community on the Texas coast.
9 Min Read
May 24, 2019
University programs, both large and small, continue to invest in their golf facilities
5 Min Read
May 21, 2019
New owner Escalante Golf has made considerable investment since 2017.
8 Min Read
May 20, 2019
Not all Texas country clubs have had the steadfast history of Fort Worth's Colonial. But while some of these sites have been lost, others are now public and affordable.
5 Min Read
May 3, 2019
Debate rages on whether a golf course property be based on current or highest use
7 Min Read
April 25, 2019
How four facilities got their stride back, and what struggling courses can learn from it
3 Min Read
November 7, 2022
A club fitting with the TaylorMade Performance Center at the Pebble Beach Golf Academy can help you find a new favorite club.
2 Min Read
November 20, 2022
New innovation brings unique products to improve the life of golfers.
7 Min Read
November 18, 2022
We cover every price point to make sure your favorite golfers get the gift they want this holiday season.
Load More
Now Reading
Golf Club of Houston hopes to send message after catching ATV vandals who damaged green