Host to the US Amateur (in 1959 and 1964) and the US Women’s Open (in 1995 and 2011), the East course is one of three 18-hole tracks attached to The Broadmoor, one of America’s most famous resorts.
Golf was first played here in 1918 when Donald Ross crafted an 18-hole layout. This course was then split in two when Robert Trent Jones Snr added two 9-hole circuits, forming the East course in 1952 and the West in 1964.
The Mountain course appeared in 1976 and this Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay layout was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus II in 2006 – quite fitting that the Golden Bear’s son should carry out the work at the venue where his father won his first national title at the aforementioned US Amateur in 1959.Holes 7 to 15 are the newer holes on an East course that’s renowned for its broad, tree-lined fairways and large greens. Stand out holes include the expanded 601-yard 3rd and the similarly elongated 611-yard 17th.
Things started off a little bit dicey when my clubs weren’t at the starter for my 3:10 tee time even though I dropped them off with the valet at 2 o’clock and was assured they would be there by 2:30. While waiting for them I was chatting with the starter and she said to take a certain cart and I replied I was going to walk. She immediately jumped me ahead of two groups, asked one to wait for just a moment as my clubs finally showed up and I was on my way. Walking evidently gives you some street cred. This a mongrel design of two of golf’s most famous architects. The original course was designed by Donald Ross and opened in 1918. At the time it was the highest elevation golf course in the US, well over 6000 feet above sea level. In the early 1950s Robert Trent Jones designed another 18, six of his holes are on the East course and six of Ross’s are on the West.
The first hole is classic Ross, it invites you to play. My first indication that the greens were slick occurred when I thought I stuck my approach. As I was walking up to the green I noticed a ball about five yards short and wondered where it came from. Sadly, upon further scrutiny I recognized it as mine. I had gotten spit back and rejected. Fortunately, I did make the up and down. The second hole is a short par 4,stay away from the bunkers on the right. The third hole was 540 down hill downwind. I hit a great drive for me and was about 250 out. There is a water hazard in front of the green. I would normally lay up, but I noticed there was a false front of about 40-50 yards. I threw caution to the wind (literally and figuratively) hit a five would on the screws, got a great bounce and while I was on the dance floor I wasn’t near the band. Horrible first putt but was able to make the bird. Another great example of why par 5s should NOT be the number 1 handicap hole. Four is a short par 3 aim well right of the pin, everything rolls away from the mountains and towards the valley. On number 6 be careful there are three bunkers on the left-hand side, relatively short par 4, but they can sneak up on you. Number nine is a short par five 476 yards hard dogleg left. You need to cut the corner because the fairway rolls off right. Aim down the tree line, a decent drive should leave you around 200 yards in. This is a severely contoured green, if the pin is back, you really have to force yourself to get it back there, otherwise she will be rejected. Number 10 is a long par 4 downhill dogleg to the left. Aim at the bunker on the right side of the fairway and the ball should trundle on down to the left. The 12th is a 200 yard par 3. Not sure what to tell you here. I hit a good 5 iron that landed a quarter of the way onto the green and ended up being over. The 15th is a slight dogleg left, be right, or run the risk of being blocked out. The 16th is a par 3 with a hellacious contour left to right. The 17th is a relatively benign par 5, but watch out for the bunkers on the left side just inside 100 yards. The 18th is a wonderful hole. Purportedly, Nicklaus has called it his favorite finishing hole. Preferred ball flight is over the fairway bunker, leaving you an approach shot of less than 150 yards.
A fun track, slick greens and penurious rough. Expensive, I would recommend the twilight rate, where the rate drops by over half. It has hosted many major tournaments. Nicklaus won the US Amateur here in 1959 and Annika Sorenstam won the 1995 US Women’s Open.
Colin Braithwaite is the author of “A Good Walk Unspoiled”