Momentum builds for a revolutionary golf course
As they stand on the old Evergreen Point Golf Course, you can almost picture the vision in the minds of national developers Rio Valeriano and David Hinkle. They are the creators behind the T36 at Baytown Golf Course, an innovative double-loop concept, fully operational 18-hole course that will feature exciting dining options as well. To Rio and David, this creation is more than a golf course, it’s the centerpiece of their vision for major development in Baytown. They will tell you they wouldn’t be here without a strong business relationship with Bret Gardella, Baytown’s leader in economic development.
“He’s the one who brought us to town to explore multiple development options and was looking for something dynamic on the southeast side of the city,” said Hinkle.
Gardella was looking for a way to bring big business to town while attempting to revive golf in Baytown. He said, “Bringing golf back to Baytown was a top request from residents. I knew we had this former golf course
property and could do something with it. I had talks with golf developers who had land concerns. I brought in David to see if we could work together on other retail projects. Rio was added to the conversation, and that’s where the project eventually began to gain traction.”
But it didn’t happen immediately. Months went by. Hinkle and Valeriano were unsure they could help Gardella with this project but kept the idea in their back pocket. That’s when fate stepped in. Valeriano said, “I had this chance meeting with a well known golf coach to the pros. He mentioned Ric Buckton, a premiere golf course designer, who had a design idea that would revolutionize the way people play golf. After a few conversations and visits with Ric, the T36 idea was born.”
David and Rio’s team, now called Build Baytown I, began to take shape with Buckton setting the course. He has more than 35 years of experience and has worked with all of the big golf names, including Ben Crenshaw, Tom Lehman, Tom Weiskopf, and so many others.
“Ric has designed five courses in the top 100 residential golf courses to play. This is the guy you want when it comes to building a course,” said Valeriano.
He added, “There are holes that will be a part of this course that Ric has saved for the perfect opportunity to use them. There are concepts from his award-winning courses, like The Club at Ravenna in Colorado, that will be part of T36. It’s going to be special.”
Work has been taking place behind the scenes ever since the City Council approved the golf course back in April. As part of the contract, the City will pay Build Baytown I $6 million in incentives to build the golf course. The lease will be for 40 years, before the City takes back ownership, and will be tax-free for 20 years.
Mayor Brandon Capetillo said, “We are very excited for this project, and I am convinced this is going to be the catalyst to major development on the southeast side of town. We also needed amenities for our Hyatt Regency and Convention Center, and T36 is a perfect addition as we look to add more in the area.”
“It’s a responsible agreement when most 18-hole courses are paying $1 million or more to build one hole at a golf course, not including maintenance. This is a deal that packs great potential,” said Capetillo. Landscapes Unlimited, a nationally ranked golf course operator, is managing the course and has had weekly meetings in order to get construction plans approved. Dirt started moving on the property in August with the goal of having the course ready by next year.
Valeriano said, “It was important for these guys to really start doing the ground work. They have the grading permits and irrigation plans. You will see the evolution of T36 in the coming weeks.”
The goal is also for the clubhouse and surrounding area to be a popular community attraction, regardless of your interest in golf. Hinkle said, “We’re also going to take the clubhouse that was already here, make it into a restaurant, and more that we can’t reveal just yet. It’s going to be a great public gathering place, and not just a golf course.”
Gardella said, “We have companies excited about coming to Baytown after hearing about this project. We are talking to them solely because of the birth of the T36 development.”
We are very excited for this project, and I am convinced this is going to be the catalyst to major development on the southeast side of town.– MAYOR BRANDON CAPETILLO
You will also see video production crews at the golf course site and in other places across town. Allegheny Image Factory, a media production company, is documenting T36 from beginning to completion.
Hinkle said, “There is regional and national interest in a documentary-type series that involves building this one-of-a-kind golf course and the challenges that come with it. The hope is that this will attract even more golfers and visitors to Baytown.”
Valeriano said, “What more could you ask for? The City of Baytown took a chance on us with a project that’s going to change the landscape here for decades to come.”
Golfers can expect to be playing a round at T36 by late summer or early fall 2023. However, the on-site eating options will be ready before that, sometime around May.
“That’s not where it ends. We are here, with this project, for 40 years and expect to be involved in other development projects that will reshape Baytown,” said Hinkle.
Right now, as Rio and David stand on a mound of grass, it looks like a retired golf course with plenty of potential. However, they know it will soon be lush with hunter green grass and expertly designed fairways and greens that will set the city on the right course for the future.