The 18-hole golf course at CommonGround once belonged to the Mira Vista Golf Club, opening for play in 1972. The state golfing authorities, the Colorado Golf Association and the Colorado Women's Golf Association, acquired the property and developed it as a pay and play golf complex in 2009.
Located a mere eight miles to the east of downtown Denver, the course is another minimalist offering from Tom Doak, who totally redesigned the site by removing intrusive trees, restoring native grasses, adding strategic bunkers and constructing massive, undulating greens.
Just as important as the 18-hole course, Doak also installed a driving range, putting green and short game area, along with a 9-hole par three layout, called the Kid’s Course, because it’s mainly designed to allow children to learn the game of golf.
Now CommonGround operates an affordable public facility that is purpose built to support the mission statement of both Associations: "to represent, promote, and serve the best interests of golf in the state of Colorado."
Renaissance Golf Design provided the following comments:
“We were looking for a project that would allow us to give something back to the community and that was accessible to the average golfer. Our motivations were very similar to those of the Colorado Golf Association and the Colorado Women's Golf Association – to create a course that is accessible and fun for all ranges of abilities... from beginners to competitors in the state championships. We designed it to be easily walkable, to promote health and exercise, and to be affordable to all, like the great courses of Scotland and Ireland which are the foundation of the game and the inspiration for everything we do.”
Dating from 1972, Mira Vista Golf Club operated on the land now occupied by Common Ground GC. The state golfing authorities in Colorado acquired the property and developed it as a community facility in 2009
Colorado lucked out when Tom Doak jumped at the chance to be involved: Doak and his team completely redesigned the facility adding practice areas and a nine hole short course as a place for the younger generation to learn the game of golf. And they made radical changes to the look and feel of the golf course- taking out trees and opening up the course.
Doak has made his name building some of the best courses in the world in pure links terrain. While the land at Common Ground didn't have the same potential, they have introduced some pretty cool green complexes and bunkering- raising the status of the course substantially.
Each year Tom Doak hosts a tournament (The Renaissance Cup) at one of his more recently completed courses, and I was fortunate enough to be invited to the 2010 event at Common Ground.
My partner that year was Hollywood director Michael Robin, a good golfer and a real gentleman. Over a couple days in October we played a number of matches and got to know Common Ground pretty well. And it is a really nice place to play golf!
Common Ground is not going to crack the top 100 charts anytime soon- that was not Doak's brief. It was designed as a community pay and play and as a place for the younger generation to learn the game. And the end result is a credit to all involved.
Notable holes include:
- the long par 4 fourth hole
- the sweet little par 3 sixth hole on the water
- the strong par 4 ninth hole
- the par 5 eleventh hole along the water
- the difficult par 3 fourteenth hole
- the strong par 3 seventeenth hole
- the par 5 eighteenth hole
Common Ground is a quality golf course and fun to play.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
My first experience at Common Ground was really positive. The club has a storied history over the past 45+ years as one of the most respected public venues in this part of the country. Recent notoriety has included US Amateur qualifying as part of the 2012 event at Cherry Hills. A few years prior to this, the club hired the talented team at Renaissance Golf. Doak's team totally redesigned and rebuilt the course in 2008. It had been an Air Force Base course that was given to the Colorado Golf Association (CGA) when the base was decommissioned in the 1990's; nobody thought much of it. The CGA saved up for 10-15 years to get the $4 million to rebuild it and make it worthwhile.
The outward half is relatively flat, which helps with pace of play, but the greens are consistently the star of the show at Common Ground. Multiple times during the day you’ll hear golfers joyfully recalling amazing putts they faced on greens that were beautifully shaped by the team at Renaissance Golf. The inward half has the better golf topography and allows for more attractive routings with hills and dog-legs, forcing golfers to focus on precision off the tee.
Even during these challenging times, a bustling public golf course just goes to show how important the game is for our mental well-being, but also how relevant the course is for the greater Denver community. I highly recommend a visit if your schedule permits.
CommonGround was created for the "common" man and woman golfer. It's the home course for the Colorado Golf Association and is total redesign of the former Lowry Air Force Base course.
The finished product rests on playability and in clearly providing different avenues for golfers to take on any of the holes. There's no real "sink-or-swim" shots but clearly preferred places to be to maximize one's opportunity to score. In sum -- the course seeks to provide architecture that is clear, straightforward and without contrivance or artifice.
The bunker placements are done well -- making sure that those seeking to gain a clear advantage have the shotmaking acumen in doing so. Several fairways have tapering bottlenecks so those attempting to get as far off the tee as possible had better bring some needed accuracy too.
The outward nine is good but only a few holes are especially noteworthy -- the uphill par-4 9th among them. The inward half has the better diversity of holes and with three long par-3s in the mixture at the 12th, 14th and 17th -- one has to be especially mindful about securing the correct clubs when executing approaches. The 17th is especially demanding and can often play into the prevailing southwest wind and is reminiscent in what one would see on the eastern end of Long Island.
Tom Doak had a few of his key principles at Renaissance Design at the time get involved with the effort and the net result is a quality layout that accomplished what it sought to do. But, it's important to point out the genesis of CommonGround was not to create some sort of public Colorado version of Bethpage Black or Cog Hill #3.
Given the myriad of courses I've played in Colorado I'd certainly see a position in the top 25 as doable but clearly not in the top 15. That's not a knock on CommonGround as much as an elevation of golf architecture that's clearly blossomed -- both the private and public side of the aisle.
M. James Ward