Colorado Golf Club: A Smashing Success
By Torleif Sorenson on 8/22/13

One of the prettiest and toughest golf holes in all of Colorado:
The 16th at Colorado Golf Club

The 13th Solheim Cup Matches did not end well for the United States team, but without question, the event overall was an unqualified and smashing success for Colorado Golf Club, the LPGA, and women's golf at large. To wit:

The reaction

This writer's opinion is that the LPGA, the USGA, and the PGA Tour would be monumentally stupid to not consider bringing another championship or a rotating-venue event to Colorado Golf Club. As it turns out, they have already arrived at the same conclusion. Tom Ferrell, Director of Communications for Colorado Golf Club, confirmed it this morning:
"We don't know what the next big one is, but we're actively talking to those three organizations."
Attendance was well over 110,000 for the week — an average of over 36,600 for each day of the competition.

The course

The club and their staff really did this one well. At the outset, architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw were faithful to the land with their old-school, "retro-traditionalist" approach to this wild-and-woolly Front Range foothills terrain.

And where the LPGA and PGA Tour have their "standard" course set-ups, U.S. Solheim Cup captain Meg Mallon insisted on Coore and Crenshaw's Colorado flavor, saying, "I want the course the way the members play it."

It was. Ferrell confirmed that Course Superintendent Tony Hartsock and his crew set up their usual six-foot transition of two inches of rough, while everything else was mowed to a single height. "And it was fantastic," said Ferrell. "For us, the golf course showed exactly as we hoped it would. The Golf Channel came out a year in advance to plan their coverage. I thought the way they presented the course was beautiful."

The course also provided the requisite drama — and not just at the closing four holes, either, as Ferrell pointed out: "Paula Creamer made an up-and-down from the behind the green at 8 on Sunday. I've never seen anyone get up and down from that spot in seven years of watching people play there."

Even without the prestige and cachet of hosting the Solheim Cup and the 2010 Senior PGA Championship, Colorado Golf Club is already on this writer's "golf bucket list" solely on its own chief merits: Architecture, challenge, an undeniably beautiful setting, and the unforgettable Front Range scenery.

The logistics

This is the opposite of Merion Golf Club, which has such a small footprint that the USGA had to severely scale back their usual spectator, corporate sponsor, and merchandise tents at this year's U.S. Open Championship. Grandstands at Merion were shoehorned into tight parcels of land, transportation and logistics were cumbersome at best, the practice range was over a mile away, and player registration had to be set up in the home of a nearby resident — because there wasn't enough room at the club itself!

In stark contrast, Colorado Golf Club is spread out over 1,700 acres, providing plenty of room for spectators and attractions, as well as merchandise tents and seating at the practice range. And having also hosted the 2010 Senior PGA Championship (Tom Lehman in a playoff), the club's senior management have pretty much nailed down how to use the land, space, and infrastructure to host a major championship or a large golf event.

Access and transportation

The club is located less than a mile from Colorado Highway 83, one of two major routes between the Denver metropolitan area and Colorado Springs. It is also located relatively close to Centennial Airport, the Denver Tech Center, Park Meadows and the abundance of shopping, dining, and lodging in Parker, Lone Tree, and the surrounding communities in Douglas County. The course is also a short trip from the E-470, which itself provides easy access to Denver International Airport and other lodging in the eastern Denver area.

And local officials helped things go smoothly, too. As Ferrell said,
"The cooperation we had with the City of Parker, Douglas County, the City of Denver, and the State of Colorado was fabulous. We could not have been more happy."
Club officials and Solheim Cup organizers also were smart enough to let spectators ride their bicycles to the event — an intelligent move that not only helped reduce traffic congestion, but appealed heavily to Coloradans, who are known for their love of the outdoors, including recreational and competitive cycling.

Case closed

The Denver area lost their PGA Tour event at Castle Pines over sponsorship difficulties, but the obvious demand for a high-profile golf tournament in Colorado still exists. The LPGA, PGA Tour, and the USGA would do well to bring another major event to Colorado Golf Club.


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[ comments ]
Duke of Hazards says:
You want to marry this course and have its babies, don't you?
Torleif Sorenson says:
Nah... a simple membership would suffice. :-P

Seriously, I was a Colorado resident for four years and I can tell you there are some really great courses across the state. But there are precious few that are good enough and large enough to host a modern-day major championship and all the accompanying infrastructure.

CGC seems to have all the "right stuff." I'm really pleased that the Solheim Cup went so well.
bducharm says:
It was sad when the Tour left Castle Pines. That was a very cool golf course! CGC seemed to be very good, so we'll see where they go! LOVE Colorado golf - lived in the Springs for 4 years!
legitimatebeef says:
I thought it was a fine course, it certainly looked good on TV. It does look like it could be made challenging enough to host one of them "major" tourneys.
falcon50driver says:
I'll be there over the Labor day holiday, sure will try to play it.
[ post comment ]
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