Colorado Golf Club only opened its tees for play in 2007 but it’s already a nationwide hit. Designed by the famous Bill and Ben duo – Coore and Crenshaw – whose design philosophy is to respect the classic golf courses of the "Golden Age of Architecture", Colorado was destined for success… just look at what happened to Sand Hills.
Set in more than 1,700 acres of a former horse ranch, space is definitely not in short supply at Colorado Golf Club. The club has already bagged the 2010 Senior PGA Championship (won by Tom Lehman after a three-way play-off with David Frost and Fred Couples) as “the site offers a lot of space to be able to accommodate the necessary infrastructure required to host such an event,” according to the Senior PGA Championship director. If that’s not enough for such a young club, the 2013 Solheim Cup was hosted at Colorado, which resulted in an 18-10 victory for Europe, the first European Solheim Cup win on US soil. So, is the course any good?
According to Juli Inkster, LPGA Tour player, “It's a very good match-play golf course and will make for a great Solheim Cup venue. There are so many strategies and options out there. Anything can happen on almost any hole, and then you have the risk-reward par 5s at 15 and 16 and a fantastic par 3 at 17. It will be a good test for all players. And to combine it with a huge sports town like Denver, I know the event will be fabulous.”
Ben Crenshaw said of his creation: “We tried very hard to wed the holes to the ground, and in that respect, the holes will come out differently with interesting green shapes and bunkers. We decided to just let the golf course roll across the landscape.”
If you have played Colorado Golf Club we’d love to hear from you and we’d be most grateful if you’d write a course review.
Colorado Golf Club is somewhere around the tenth best course designed by the partnership of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. This is not a criticism of the course but a compliment to the outstanding designs of Coore/Crenshaw. Is there a modern architect duo any better than these two?
In Colorado Golf Club they found another near perfect piece of land where they had multiple options for fairways and green locations, needed to move very little land, and the result is a course that looks older than one that opened in 2007. It has already hosted three significant events.
It is easy to get to, approximately 45 minutes to an hour from the airport and within 30 minutes or less of the three other top courses in the area.
There are nine tees available at Colorado Golf Club due to the numerous tee combinations. The championship tees range from 7604 with tees of 7396, 7264, 7073, 6892, 6448, 6186, 6145, 5482 and 5146. I asked in the pro shop what are the most commonly played tees and the answer was the Black/Paintbrush combination which is 7073 and Paintbrush which is 6892. The ratings of the par 72 course from the tees range from 75.5/149 to 72.4/139 which are the 6892 tees. This indicates this is a serious golf course despite the 10% benefit in distance from playing at high altitude. I will agree that there are ample opportunities to either lose one’s ball or find oneself in a difficult situation. From the tees we chose, I played to my index.
We arrived early and played the par 3 course and then noticed the weather turning as thunderstorms and high winds were in the forecast. We decided to play the Paintbrush tees at 6892 to speed up the round. We played quickly which meant I could not study the greens as much as I like to. As it turned out the rain occurred during our dinner at the club. The wind was so strong we could not sit outside despite the warm temperature.
After playing it in early June, 2018 I summed up the course to a friend with the following:
“A fun course to play. You need to know the course to know from which side to approach some of the greens depending on pin position. There are many uneven lies on the fairways. Many of the holes are very good, but some are average. The flow of the course is a bit uneven. It is a very good routing and takes good advantage of the wide expanse of land and some distant views. The routing very cleverly incorporates some smaller water features on a few holes but perhaps makes the holes tilt too much towards defense.
Some of the greens are a bit unfair due to too much shaping. Like many Coore/Crenshaw courses many of the greens are large with a fair amount of contouring at the edges of the greens and surrounding it. While some holes seem to present the chance for recovery, on other holes the overly contoured areas make a recovery shot unlikely to be successful. But overall there are options available on most holes.
The bunkering is either really good or as expected.
I thought the best stretch of holes were #1-3 and #8-13. If the course could have maintained the brilliance of the three starting holes it would be amazing. The finishing holes fall just below the opening holes which is not what one wants in a golf course. Holes 15-17 felt a bit too quirky/too much tilted towards defense to me although I believe Coore likely quickly found the green sites and then worked backwards. I thought #2 , #11, are the outstand #13 are the outstanding holes although my partners also added #8 and #17.
It is very much a walkable golf course. The main course takes one through different types of settings – among ponderosa trees and sagebrush, with a good variety of elevation change with uphill and downhill shots, over barrancas with forced carries, and several holes out open in a meadow. Some might like the variety but for me it feels inconsistent.
For the main course, much like most of the Coore/Crenshaw courses, you will likely never tire of playing it and others will be envious if you are a member. I like the course a lot despite some of the unevenness because it is marvelous to be out in the open air on a walkable course that has a nice variety of golf holes.
On a high wind day there are numerous holes exposed to the wind and trying to make par would be very difficult.
Some think it should be a top 100 course while I think it belongs in the next tier. This means it is one of the best courses in the country. One should definitely try to play it in combination with playing other courses in the area.
As for the nine hole par 3 course, it is weird that essentially you take three clubs (putter, wedge, sand wedge) for eight of the holes and at the finishing hole you realize you need a club that is three longer but why carry one club for eight holes and not use it? We moved up 40 yards and played it.”
That was my summary. To follow is my recollection of the holes referencing only the championship tees and the Paintbrush tees.
The first hole plays from an elevated tee set among a few trees with the fairway stretching out before you and a few lovely large homes to the right on higher ground. This is a par 5 of 653/615 which plays shorter due to being downhill. The hole has a ridge line with a few trees on the left off the tee and bunkers on either side of the landing area. The bunker on the left is hidden by a tree. From there the key is to stay to the right to avoid a large number of deep bunkers on the left. Left off the green is a sizeable fall-off into a grassy/rough area. The green slopes to the left with the ground and runs away from you. This is a very good opening hole, certainly one of the most fun opening holes I have played.
Second is a par 3 of 154/125 to a very tilted green back to front and right to left surrounded by a bunker on either side and two on either side of the rear. Recovery on this hole is unlikely due to the slope. It is a very tiny green despite the short length of the tee shot. This is visually a very special hole playing uphill over grass with trees to one’s left with a beautiful backdrop of nature surrounding the hole on higher ground behind the green.
Three is a short par 4 of 428/403. This hole plays downhill with a short, forced carry to a fairway cantered to the left where a collection of bunkers awaits there. The fairway narrows the farther one goes. While one’s eye is tempted to go to the left to shorten the line to the green which sits off to the left, the correct play is merely to find the fairway as it is a short iron to the green. The green sits on lower ground over a wide barranca with a deep bunker on the right and one behind the green. The bunker on the right is smack against the green – just like a bunker in the Sandbelt. There is a chipping area short and left. The green is expertly sloped with small tiers in it and run-offs.
Four is a longer par 4 of 500/433 that plays almost level but into the wind making it play its yardage. You are now in the meadow and the fairway looks like a ribbon set between the higher grass. The fairway feels a bit too narrow for the hole given the two bunkers on the left of the fairway. There is a cross bunker about 100 yards out that definitely comes into play for average length hitters due to the wind. Playing over the cross bunker to the right gives a tough angle to the green which sits a bit to the left and is sloped right to left towards two nearly hidden bunkers. Missing left will either result being in one of those bunkers or in lower ground among a few trees with no chance of recovery. There is not much land behind the green before one is in rougher grass/uneven lies. I feel this green is a little unfair in its location and should have been five more yards to the right.
Five remains in the meadow and I think this is the hardest hole on the golf course as a par 4 of 479/457 again playing into the wind as a dogleg left tee shot. Bunkers go down both sides of the fairway which is a bit more generous that the hole before. The arroyo snakes its way down the left side of the fairway with the tee shot playing slightly uphill. There is a deep, almost hidden bunker about 30 yards short of the green in the fairway with a bunker on the left and the rear of the green. The bunker left of the green is hard against the green and trees overhang it. The green sits in a natural hollow with trees on a smaller ridge behind it. The green is much quicker than it appears. It is a nice hole despite my double bogey due to a bladed third.
Six is a long par 3 of 251/205 playing from an elevated tee with a forced carry and possibly inspired by the redan holes as there is slope fronting the green that will allow a ball to run onto the right to left sloping green. Bunkers go down essentially the left side of most of the hole with a single hidden bunker on the right in front of a few trees. Visually I did not care for the hole.
Seven is the second par 5 of 583/538 playing as a dogleg left with a forced carry. There are cross bunkers on the right that one must either be short of, be left of it, or carry. This is followed by a long bunker on the left side. Another barranca exists before the crowned green which has a single bunker left. I thought it to be an average hole.
Eight is a driveable par 4 uphill as one leaves the meadow. It is 311/274 yet it feels like it is a double dogleg depending on where one ends up. There is a forced carry with a large fronting bunker on the right that should not be in play. I hit well right into the taller grass yet had a wedge in hand and a good look at the very small, very sloped green particularly at the front. The green is shaped narrower at the front with a single deep bunker on the front left. The wider portion of the green is surrounded by bunkers. My partners liked the hole more than I did as I thought the green was overly sloped. The green is consistent with the land which is a plus, but the land is sloped very severely. Compounding the slope of the green is it is also too contoured. I consider #8 to be where a good stretch of golf begins from here through the thirteenth. I wanted to list this as one of the best holes as I loved the uphill look of it, the setting, the feeling of confusion as to whether it is straight, a dogleg slightly right, or double dogleg, but for me the green lets it down a bit.
The front nine finished with an uphill par 4 of 483/431 playing as a dogleg right. There is another forced carry up to a wide fairway sloped left to right. Numerous bunkers continue to the green placed below the clubhouse and sloped left to right and back to front. I really liked the hole both visually and to play it.
The tenth hole is a wonderful nice downhill dogleg left of 463/425 without a bunker and the small green is on a slope going away from you. From the tee and as you walk down the forced carry all the way to the green you can see the mountains distant in the background. This is another visually good hole and fun to play.
Eleven is a par 3 of 214/173 set behind a pond with three bunkers on the right and a large one on the left eating into the green. This hole looks like an ankle with a foot off to the left. There are various shelves and swales to the green which perhaps is slightly overdone. This is another lovely golf hole with a lot of bite on the green.
Twelve is a par 4 of 531/481 playing with a forced carry dogleg left to a wide fairway where a long series of bunkers guards the right side. A small pot-like bunker is almost hidden on the front right of this green which sits on a plateau. This is a strong golf hole.
Thirteen is a short par 4 of 405/370 with the green situated among trees with bunkers to either side. A spine runs through the fairway seemingly taking balls a bit more to the right where trees can potentially block the view of the small green. The left side is preferred. This is a very nice golf hole.
Fourteen is another short par 4 risk-reward hole of 329/293 where the tee shot goes slightly to the right. The only part I liked about the hole is the boomerang green due to the bunker that cuts into the front middle. If one gets to the wrong side of where the flag is, then a three putt is likely.
Fifteen is a par 5 of 595/552 playing as a slight dogleg left to a wide fairway. It is a blind uphill tee shot that suggests going straight is the best option to clear the rise. There are bunkers on either side before a stream cuts before the green which is angled left to right and has a bunker to either side. I thought it to be an okay hole although others liked it more.
Sixteen is the second consecutive par 5 of 552/520 with a split fairway. The right side provides a shorter path to the green. The stream runs essentially the length of the hole, down the right side once the split fairway ends and passing near the green. It is a nice golf hole where I can see where better players like it more than weaker players.
Seventeen is the final par 3 of 209/177. A pond fronts the green turning into a stream that goes down the left side. A deep bunker is in the front left of the green. There is a small bailout area to the right of the green with everything running towards the water. I felt the hole to be too punitive placing too much of an emphasis on precision.
Eighteen finishes a very good golf course as an uphill par 4 of 464/420 slight turn to the left with a large collection of bunkers on the left side. The green is narrow and quick back to front with two tiers in it.
Had I not joined Ballyneal I would have considered Colorado Golf Club as I wanted to join a destination club that had a natural feel to it. Unfortunately in the time it opened in 2007 and when I played it, there has been a lot of development near the course as well as at the edges of the 1700 acre development. While the golf course will always be very good, much like Castle Pines I fear it won’t be long until traffic and even more development begin to affect the ambience of the club. However, it is a gem and one that I am eager to play again.
One of my favorite courses, I am a sucker for Coore/Crenshaw designs. A great collection of Par 4s with wonderful variety of shots necessary to score - a course where truly every club is needed. #2 - a fun, shortish par 3 with a lot of character (read - hazards) around the green and #16 - a roller coaster Par 5 with a crazy, undulating green. One of the courses I could honestly say I would be a member if I lived anywhere near it - a must play!
CGC has my vote for one of the most underrated golf courses in the US. This time around I had the great pleasure of playing several rounds of golf here. Condition was absolutely brilliant, as firm and fast as you can imagine making for a great links like experience. Given the high elevation the course plays very long on the card but combined with the firm conditions it was playable even from the 7,604 yds back tees.
The best 1 shotter award goes to the 154 yds 2nd hole. This one is an instant classic with a crazy difficult and guarded green. A 9 iron will usually do the trick here but don’t miss as it makes 3 a real challenge. Everyday I played we had to deal with very strong winds which immensely added to the fun and challenge.
My favorite par 4 would be the drivable uphill 8th hole playing at 311 yds. Now many say, 300 yds is not drivable but I watched my playing partner on day 2 drive this hole with his 3 wood with a strong tail wind mind you. He is 76 years old, did I mention that?
On the back 9 there 15 and 16 are crazy back to back par 5’s. Both represent scoring opportunities with good shots and both are definitely risk reward holes. 15 requires a semiblind drive down the left center in order to benefit from the downslope and enable yourself a realistic shot at hitting the green in two. However, to pull off this heroic shot you have to take on the small canyon right before the green. On the tee of 16 you face a split fairway. Play left to be safe and have a wider landing area. Right side allows a tiger line and a good shot at this green in two with the ability to utilize the strong backboard that throws the ball left to right. This green is befitting of a reachable 5 and I’m still humbled to admit that I made two 3 putt pars out of 3 rounds. Did I say the green was crazy?
CGC is the kind of course you have to visit but beware one round is just not going to cut it. Talk the member into letting you stay for a week!
There are 5 excellent holes at CGC and worth the price of admission alone to this exclusive club. The playability of the course is fantastic, allowing golfers to throw up shots or run them around the ground at their discretion.
Unfortunately I think several of the other holes are repetitive and the valley holes aren't the most inspiringly routed. Additionally the par 3s are too risk/reward without any bailout areas which seem a bit too severe to me.
That being said, the conditioning of the course is fantastic and if you get a chance definitely play this track!