The US Golf Association will open its 2021 championship season at the Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas in April with the American Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. It marks Maridoe’s debut as a USGA Championship site, although the Maridoe community is anything but new to hosting large-scale events.
Albert Huddleston’s Texas oasis, which opened in 2017, can tip up to nearly 8,000 meters. Every hole changes direction and the Texas wind is a major factor. Those who have competed there speak of a golf course that takes practice to learn. Jordan Spieth, Will Zalatoris, Braden Thornberry and Lee Trevino are among the knowledgeable members of about 200 members.
As of April 2020, Maridoe has hosted the first of seven competitive events for all levels of player. Six of these were inaugural events, with the 114th Southern Amateur completing the formation.
Albert Huddleston, owner and founder of the Maridoe Golf Club
At the end of the 2020 season, the owner and founder of Club Huddleston, CEO and Managing Partner of Aethon Energy, spoke with Golfweek to discuss everything, from his desire to host so many events to his golf course through the mastery of the nuances of Maridoe (competitors: watch out for the latter).
Here are excerpts from that conversation:
Why competitive opportunities were so important in 2020 …
Golf has always been more than a special sport for me. It really is a vehicle or a catalyst for traveling, meeting great friends, being with friends. It is one of the few sports where you can play with someone who is not as accomplished or more accomplished as you are and have a good time. Every golf course is different. The weather is changing to make it seem like what was the golf course of yesterday had nothing to do with the course and competition of today. This is how I think of golf. I’m very passionate about it, I think it’s an important sport, it’s an important socialization opportunity.
So when COVID-19 happened obviously it shut everything down and in Maridoe we have junior players, we have amateurs, mid-ams, senior ams, we have all kinds of pro players – Korn Ferry, Latin America, Canadian, PGA. We also have a few women. And so what happened was they were all out of time and they were there and actually I remember very clearly that Jordan Spieth and Martin Flores were at the back of the clubhouse and I was talking to them and I said, ‘By the way, is this the longest you’ve gone without playing a golf competition? They looked at each other and said they had both agreed since they were six years old. I walked back around the clubhouse and (director member) Alison Morrison was there. I said, we have to create an opportunity for all these wonderful players who are now sitting on their hands to have a contest. This is how the Maridoe Samaritan (Fund Invitational) was born. It started with word of mouth.
As soon as this tournament was over, Scottie Scheffler won, and all of a sudden, Viktor Hovland who got beaten said, “I want to do this again”. I basically want to take Scottie down next time. So in a few weeks… we did 2.0. We were the only ones doing something like this. It was the right thing to do and we went ahead and decided that golf was the perfect sport to complement to maintain COVID-19 protocols. You can do both.
Scottie Scheffler won the Maridoe Samaritan Fund Invitational at the Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas on April 30, 2020 (Photo by Maridoe Golf Club)
On the homogenized grounds that gathered in Maridoe – notably for two Maridoe Samaritan Fund Invitationals in April and May…
I dare say that never in our life, in my opinion, you will have a tournament like we had our (Maridoe) Samaritan (Fund) tournaments in the spring. I dare say you will never have the best juniors, the best college amateurs, mid-ams, PGA Tour pros, Canadian pros, Latin American pros, Korn Ferry pros, all playing in same time, same tournament. There is no ego in it, and everyone played together and were so grateful and had a great time. I don’t think these people will ever retire from their golf jobs to have this privilege and I’m not sure those on the PGA Tour would be mentally accustomed to playing with amateurs and so for me this was one of those. on making lemonade ragweed due to COVID-19. It actually created an opportunity to bring all the different aspects of amateur and professional golf together, put them in a cauldron and everyone had a great time. And I’m probably as proud of it as anything.
On future hosting opportunities, including potential interest in a US Open…
My instructions to (golf architect Steve Smyers) were very clear that I wanted the Maridoe Golf Club to never hear the terrible words: “ If you had done something different you could have hosted a US Open, a US Amateur or the North Texas Championship, ‘and so I don’t want to hear those words.
Maridoe was therefore created to be able to host anything successfully. The design, the thought process, the time and movement, the choreography of the property were delivered and exist today to accommodate anything being performed anywhere and anytime, with or without spectators. You talk about a US Open in particular, I would never be so arrogant, brash, or egotistical to say that we deserve a US Open or a US Amateur. It’s up to the USGA to decide and we’ll let the chips fall where they fall.
But Maridoe was designed to accommodate the best, the best players, and is so strategic and so mentally taxing that it will separate the richest cream from the cream and the champion will be clearly identified and I think that is what l ‘USGA tends to do. their championships in particular – the US Amateur, the US Open. If we were ever blessed and honored to have the opportunity to have, for example, a US Open or anything of great importance, we would be honored and that would be a privilege. We wouldn’t be surprised because we prepared for it, but we wouldn’t be arrogant enough to say we have to have it because we deserve it. It’s up to the USGA to decide.
Huddleston, left, with the top players at the Maridoe Junior Invitational. (Photo submitted)
On Maridoe’s struggles and what it takes to be successful there …
My philosophy on championship golf is that the individual who is a great player who cannot think carefully about the course should fail compared to those who are elite players who can strategically and wisely manage themselves on the course. Maridoe was therefore created to make this separation. One of the aspects of elite golf today, especially at the youth level, at the college level, is that the ability to work the ball and fly the ball becomes a lost art because technology – the ball. and the equipment – has allowed these young fit athletes to swing as hard as they want and the technology is pretty much keeping him on track. So they’re used to hitting hard and high and my target was the one-dimensional person who comes over there who leaves their brain in the trunk of their car in the parking lot doesn’t stand a chance against someone who can. steal the ball, work the ball and strategically think about Maridoe.
On Huddleston’s beginnings in golf …
We were always around the golf course and dad was fantastic and he was special. We were just brought up since we were very young and golf was important. I will say that when my dad said we can’t play football and there were sports where he said I would ask you not to play because you will end up having arthritis your knees will potentially be injured. It is not one of the sports of 90 years. I said what is a 90 year old sport?
It does say golf, bird hunting or trout fishing. I said what about tennis? He said tennis is a cool sport, but not too many people come back from Hawaii and say you have to go play on this tennis court on this headland of crashing waves. So I probably focused on golf. It was just our family, that’s what we did. Also being around the various golf associations and the USGA and my dad had immense respect for that.
Albert Huddleston (second from right) stands with (from left) Jackson Rivera, Tommy Morrison and Luke Potter near a body of water at the Maridoe Golf Club, where bass fishing is a popular way to pass the time . (Photo submitted)
On the name Maridoe, how it was born and what it represents …
My wife Mary, she doesn’t play golf. When she was approached she supported me for wanting to do this golf club, which no wife should ever let a husband realistically do, which just shows how sweet she is. And she is.
But, when she was born, the doctors gave her to her father and he looked at her and said my God, look at those beautiful brown eyes. They remind me of doe eyes. And they called her Mary. So he nicknamed her Marydoe. He is now deceased. So me and his brother, that’s a nickname we use. That’s what I called her. So I said I think Mary Doe would be great. I was playing with it, I was saying what to say about Maridoe so phonetically it would be Mary-Doe.
The way I make a capital M is basically the logo. And after telling this story (to members of a hired brand agency), the three ladies and the gentleman who owned the business, they were all like, “This is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever had.” heard. They said we have to do it. This is how it was born. I’ll give them a big credit they came back because we have a 33 acre lake with bass fishing. They took my M and they put a reverse loop on the back, which I don’t use when I sign a capital M, to remind of a fishing loop to denote that the Maridoe Golf Club has unconsciously a fishing loop in its logo. So nobody knows.