Best of Houston®

Best Of 2004

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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Coach

Jeff Van Gundy In these, basketball's showbiz days, Jeff Van Gundy doesn't look like a typical NBA coach -- he's a schlumpy bald guy with a permanent hangdog look whose idea of glamour is probably going for Wish-Bone salad dressing instead of the store brand. But looks are deceiving. Not only did Van Gundy lead the Rockets to the playoffs for the first time in, approximately, ever, he did it with a direct, blunt style that was completely refreshing in these days of coddling superstars. Not only did he call out star guard Steve Francis for missing a road trip, he stuck to his story that Francis had opted instead to go to the Super Bowl, even after Stevie Franchise's people tried to spin their way out of the claim. When the Rockets started a losing streak that put their playoff spot in jeopardy, Van Gundy didn't say anything about "taking it one game at a time"; instead, he said the team was on the verge of a "historic collapse." He doesn't bark this stuff out in mad-dog Lou Piniella style; he just matter-of-factly calls it like he sees it. As he said after one dispiriting early-season loss, "What am I supposed to say, 'Wow, we're busting our asses out there?' We're not."

Best State Park

Brazos Bend State Park You'll want to visit this park on a sunny day in February, and not just because the weather's more palatable then. Winter's the best time to catch the park's main attraction: alligators. When the sun comes out, the gators rise to the top of the water -- or sometimes out of the water -- to warm up. On a good day, you'll see eyeballs popping out at you from every pond and bayou. You could even spot a 20-foot gator hanging out on the trail. And the alligators aren't the only attraction; there are birds (more than 270 varieties have been documented), wild pigs, wetlands for fishing, and miles of trails for walking, biking and hiking. It's just a 45-minute drive down Highway 288 to the wild country.

21901 FM 762, Needville, 77461
MAP
979-553-5101
Best State Park

Brazos Bend State Park You'll want to visit this park on a sunny day in February, and not just because the weather's more palatable then. Winter's the best time to catch the park's main attraction: alligators. When the sun comes out, the gators rise to the top of the water -- or sometimes out of the water -- to warm up. On a good day, you'll see eyeballs popping out at you from every pond and bayou. You could even spot a 20-foot gator hanging out on the trail. And the alligators aren't the only attraction; there are birds (more than 270 varieties have been documented), wild pigs, wetlands for fishing, and miles of trails for walking, biking and hiking. It's just a 45-minute drive down Highway 288 to the wild country.

Best Public Tennis Courts

Wier Park Nothing sucks more than diving for that ace and getting your foot caught in some crevice or unevenly paved portion of the tennis court. You need a good, level playing field if you're gonna do your opponent like Andy Roddick, right? Well, you can't go wrong with Wier Park's two shaded, well-maintained courts. The courts are free, but you can reserve a spot for $2. Or, if you play a lot, you can buy a one-year pass ($120 for non-West U residents, $72 for residents). Afterward, gloat over your win at the quaint little park next door.

Best Public Tennis Courts

Wier Park Nothing sucks more than diving for that ace and getting your foot caught in some crevice or unevenly paved portion of the tennis court. You need a good, level playing field if you're gonna do your opponent like Andy Roddick, right? Well, you can't go wrong with Wier Park's two shaded, well-maintained courts. The courts are free, but you can reserve a spot for $2. Or, if you play a lot, you can buy a one-year pass ($120 for non-West U residents, $72 for residents). Afterward, gloat over your win at the quaint little park next door.

Best Driving Range

Memorial Park If you're going to spend your afternoon hitting dozens of little white balls over and over again, you might as well do it in a nice setting, right? As far as driving ranges go, the one at Memorial Park is so swank, you'll be feeling like Tiger Woods in no time. With 43 slots, there's plenty of room for you to claim a mat and show the rest of those divot-heads how it's really done. The range is open every day except Tuesday, from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (they stop selling balls at 7:30 p.m.). Two bucks will get you 30 balls, which you can whack into the range's scenic 250 yards. If you don't have a club, borrow one from the lost-and-found bin. And if you get hungry, there's a restaurant and concession stand right there. So get your caddy and your funny-looking pants and get swinging!

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