Venecia Davis, “The Great Wall of Champions on Jackrabbit Road,”
Touchstone, vol. XIX (2000), 39-47.
This article examines the development of the Cypress Creek golf course and the Champions clubhouse and the factors that necessitated the construction of a sound attenuation wall along FM 1960. In the mid 1950s, two professional golfers, Jimmy Demaret and Jack Burke, Jr., decided to become partners in a golf course in Houston. An attorney friend suggested they buy a five hundred tract of land along FM 1960, which was about twenty-two miles from Houston. Although Demaret and Burke bought the land, they did not plan to build their golf course there at that time. They changed their mind after learning that the new Houston Intercontinental Airport and the new Interstate Highway, I-45, would be located nearby.
Construction began in May 1957, and the Cypress Creek golf course opened on November 1, 1958 for the first five hundred members. The official grand opening was on April 21, 1959, and it was attended by over six thousand people who came to see celebrities, such as Bing Crosby, Mickey Mantle, and Ben Hogan. Due to Demaret’s and Burke’s celebrity status, many celebrities and professional athletes became members of the Champions golf club.
Burke and Demaret then decided to build a subdivision for their members. Construction of the Champions subdivision began in 1960, and many celebrities, such as Farrah Fawcett and Steve Elkington, had homes there over the years. The subdivision and golf course created an economic boom for real estate. Land prices increased dramatically as investors bought up available land along Jackrabbit Road.
Due to the increasing population, Demaret and Burke began building a second golf course in the spring of 1963. The official opening of the Jackrabbit golf course was in April 1964, and it was attended by celebrities such as Bob Hope and Phil Harris. The Cypress Creek course was rated as one of the top ten golf courses in the United States, and was the site for many international tournaments, such as the 1967 Ryder Cup and the 1969 U.S. Open. The Jackrabbit course, although never hosting a major tournament, was ranked in the top thirty of U.S. courses.
Until 1969, the area around Champions subdivision did not have many commercial businesses, which forced residents to commute to Houston for their shopping. Then Joe McDermott, a real estate developer, bought fifteen acres at the corner of FM 1960 and Champions Drive to build Champions I, the area’s first large shopping center. In the 1970s, he added Champions II, III, IV, and V. The increasing traffic caused FM 1960 to be widened from two lanes to four in the early 1980s, and this began to cause a noise problem for the Champions’ residents. When, in the mid 1980s plans were being discussed to widen FM 1960 to seven lanes to alleviate traffic congestion, one Champions resident, Darel Wayhan, began petitioning for a sound attenuation wall to be built. Despite initial opposition to the wall, Houston City government completed the wall by 1991. Although the wall caused minor complaints from residents, it has been beneficial to the subdivision and golf course in many ways.
Besides decreasing traffic noise, the wall has reduced periodic flooding of the golf course. Also the wall shields golf players from harassment by passing motorists and shields pedestrians and passing motorists from errant golf balls. The wall also contributed to the increasing market value of the homes in Champions subdivision.
Mary Arnold graduated from University of Houston – Clear Lake with a B.A. in literature and history.
She is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Creative Writing.
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