20 Reasons to Love Golf in Colorado

1. You can play a Donald Ross-designed course for less than $30

Wellshire Country Club members only got to enjoy its classic mounding, difficult bunkering and multiple water features for a few years before the Great Depression forced the club’s sale to the City of Denver in 1936. Today the municipal Wellshire Golf Course annually hosts more than 50,000 rounds.

2. We have a course devoted exclusively to charity events

Sanctuary, the Sedalia club owned by RE/MAX founders (and sole members) Dave and Gail Liniger, has helped charities raise more than $60 million in its 15-year existence. Sanctuary annually hosts two dozen tournaments, as well as foursomes auctioned at a minimum bid of $1,600.

3. You can drive the greens on 400-yard par-fours

Leave the humidor to the baseballs. Combining elevated tees, thin air, firm fairways and a flush drive, you can feellike Jason Zuback on just about any mountain course. Just make that eagle putt.

4. On the same day, you can play the two highest golf courses in North America…

Leadville’s nine-hole Mount Massive Golf Course tickles the treeline 9,950 feet above the sea, while 30 miles up Highway 91, Copper Mountain’s 18 Pete Dye-designed holes at Copper Creek perch at 9,700 feet.

5. …or a sand-greens course and one of the world’s top-rated layouts.

At $5 for nine holes, Eastern Plains throwbacks like the Plainsman, Prairie and Hugo golf clubs introduce you to the lost art of smoothing a putting path. For a $50,000 initiation, Tom Doak’s celebrated Ballyneal Golf & Hunt Club in Holyoke introduces you to the lost arts of the bump-and-run, the ground game and playing the wind.

6. We birthed the nation’s largest golf instruction school.

Founded in Denver in 1995 by PGA pros Joe Assael and Mike Clinton, GolfTEC now has 150 locations across North America, including eight in Colorado. One in every five U.S. golfers has learned with GolfTEC’s patented sensor based g-Swing system—for which the company will be unveiling a major upgrade this spring.

7. Your PGA professional is also your ski instructor.

“There’s so much you can bring from teaching skiing to teaching golf,” says Chris Lai, a former ski racer who is PGA Head Professional at Red Sky Golf Club’s Fazio Course. “Balance, different flexes in joints, gross motor to
fine motor progressions.” Lai’s in good company. His Red Sky associate Todd James, as well as Country Club of Rockies’ Pentii Tofferi, Eagle Vail’s Ben Welsh, Copper Creek’s J.P. Chevalier, Telluride’s Sean Tannehill and
Cordillera’s John Kuzina, Brock Sloan, Darren Szot and Brett Gagnon (among others) also teach both, as does Troy Persson down in Pagosa Springs.

8. “Après-ski” can mean a round of golf.

Bump runs in the morning at, say, Keystone can lead to bump-and-runs in the afternoon at Deer Creek or other courses less than an hour down the hill.

9. And “Après-golf” can mean an Afternoon of greenside fly-fishing.

At Fox Acres in Red Feather Lakes, Rio Grande Club in South Fork and the Roaring Fork Club in Aspen are among the courses that encourage both.

10. You can attempt to emulate some of golf’s most famous shots…

Not everyone gets to play Cherry Hills. But if you do, bookend the round by attempting to drive the first green like Arnold Palmer did during his legendary final round in the 1960 U.S. Open, and finish by holing out of the greenside bunker à la Birdie Kim in the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open.

11. …and one of its most dubious.

Even if you double-eagle Green Valley Ranch’s par-5 ninth, you still won’t have carded the hole’s lowest score. That distinction belongs to Mike Crean, a 4-handicap who on July 4, 2002, with the benefit of a 30 mph tailwind and an extra-firm fairway, launched a tee shot that he and his partners eventually discovered in the hole 517 yards away. Did his Precept hit a yardage marker? Did some rascal steal and jar it? Whatever the case, the seemingly improbable ace is the longest ever recorded.

12. Our swing lube is craft-brewed.

According to Breckenridge Brewery Sales Director George O’Neill, at least 65 percent of Colorado courses carry cans of craft beer, ranging from Breck’s Avalanche, Lucky U and Summerbright to New Belgium’s Fat Tire to Dale’s Pale Ale and more.

13. We boast one of the richest state opens in the country.

The $375 it costs to enter the HealthONE Colorado Open makes the event’s $125,000 purse one of the game’s great values. And the HealthONE Colorado Women’s Open’s purse of $73,000 is the highest of any state women’s open in the country.

14. The best players in the world compete here.

Even without The International at Castle Pines, Colorado remains relevant on the international golf scene: the 2008 U.S. Senior Open (The Broadmoor), 2010 Senior PGA (Colorado Golf Club), 2011 U.S. Women’s Open (The Broadmoor), 2012 U.S. Amateur (Cherry Hills), 2013 Solheim Cup (Colorado Golf Club) and 2014 BMW Championship (Cherry Hills).

15. Our courses not only have history…

U.S. and British Amateur champion Walter Travis died in Denver in 1927, and President Dwight Eisenhower almost did at Cherry Hills in 1955. Four years later at Wellshire, Bill Wright became the first African-American to win a USGA event. Jack Nicklaus (1959) and Annika Sorenstam (1995) captured their first national victories at The Broadmoor. And at Cherry Hills, Palmer came back in ’60, Phil Mickelson won the U.S. Amateur in 1990, and Birdie Kim shocked the world in 2005.

16. …They also have prehistory…

True to its name, Golden’s Fossil Trace Golf Course features 64-million-year-old Triceratops footprints and other dinosaur evidence where holes 11 through 15 now sit. You can view footprints, plants and other prehistoric creatures’ fossils in the area adjacent to the 12th green. Plus, further down C-470 you’ll find Arrowhead’s sandstone monoliths, some 300 million years in the making.

17. …and a future

Barely a year old, the Allied Colorado Golf Associations’ Golf In Schools program has introduced the game to more than 8,187 kids thru 42 different schools. The First Tee programs are flourishing at Green Valley Ranch, City Park, Willis Case and a dozen other facilities across the state. Indian Tree, CommonGround and Broken Tee remain junior-golf hotbeds, and the National PGA of America has recognized three Colorado Section members—Alan Abrams, Danny Harvanek and Ann Finke—as Junior Golf Leaders.

18. We have one of the most badass golf course names in the country…

The Mad Russian Golf and Country Club in Milliken doesn’t suggest malignancy (Lipoma Firs in Washington) or intolerance (Myopia Hunt Club in Massachusetts). Even better: Less than 10 miles separates the Mad Russian from another memorably named layout—Boomerang Golf Links in Greeley.

19. …And one of its only two fully “chemical free” courses

Superintendent Matt Rusch keeps Golden’s Applewood Golf Course green without chemical pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. Massachusetts’ Vineyard Golf Club is the nation’s other one.

20. Our rounds always come with a view.

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