The dazzling new Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Museum at The Broadmoor honors the game’s history—and those who made it.
by Jon Rizzi
On April 14, some 200 golf aficionados braved rain and snow to attend the grand opening of the stunning new Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Museum at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.
It’s safe to say that every one of them was thrilled that they did.
Among them were some two dozen of the 148 inductees that the Hall of Fame has welcomed since it its inaugural year of 1973—some of whom were brought to tears upon seeing their treasures displayed so elegantly—as well as descendants and friends of the many legends who had passed on. They mixed and celebrated with members of the 36-person Colorado Golf Hall of Fame board, key staff of The Broadmoor and the recipients of the Hall’s annual Persons of the Year and Future Famer awards—who would forever associate their crystal trophies with this monumental event.
The displays wowed the benefactors who donated more than $1.7 million to produce this shrine to those who shaped Colorado’s rich golf history. And there were those who crafted the shrine—the designers, display artists, researchers, archivists, writers, sketch artists, contractors, suppliers, vendors and workers—who not only met The Broadmoor’s high standards but exceeded them.
“What an amazing display and fantastic way to show off the rich history of Colorado golf!” Jill McGill, a 2009 Colorado Golf Hall of Fame inductee and a 2023 Person of the Year for winning the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Open, said.
Standing on the dramatic lobby staircase beneath what she called a “ginormous” photo of herself holding the trophy from the championship, she added, “Truly, it will remain unmatched.”
Clearly, the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame has come a long way since its first induction dinner at the Applewood Inn in Golden on September 8, 1973. Babe Lind, Dave Hill and the late Babe Zaharias comprised the inaugural class, and their likenesses—and those of the scores of inductees who joined them over the course of the next 30 years—hung in an area of the Colorado Golf Association headquarters affectionately known as the “Hall of Frames.”
By 2005, Colorado Golf Hall of Fame’s portraits and modest memorabilia collection had found a home in the new clubhouse at the Riverdale Golf Courses in Brighton. The Hall enjoyed a great 16-year run there, but as 2020 began, it was about to outgrow the space.
With the Hall’s 50th birthday coming up in just a few years, its board of directors was more concerned with where to hold its Golden Anniversary golf tournament and celebration than with relocating the museum. The directors suggested The Broadmoor—the Colorado Springs resort that had hosted the 2015 Century of Golf Gala and the 2019 Hale Irwin Medal Dinner—about hosting the golf and the gala in 2023.
Then things got “interesting.”
Hall of Fame Vice President Mark Passey headed up the events committee. He contacted Broadmoor President and CEO Jack Damioli, who graciously agreed to his five-star resort hosting both 2023 events.
Sensing momentum, Passey floated the possibility of The Broadmoor becoming the permanent home of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.
“That’s really an interesting idea,” Damioli said after a long pause. “Let’s have another conversation about this.”
The Broadmoor’s longtime PGA Director of Golf Russ Miller followed up with Passey. Meetings and agreements ensued. Decisions over where to put it (the three-story golf club lobby and adjoining east-west corridor), who would pay for its construction (the Hall of Fame would raise the capital, with The Broadmoor providing a free 50-year lease) and when it would be complete (the spring of 2023) happened quicker than Jon Rahm’s backswing and has produced equally remarkable results.
“It so far exceeded my expectations,” 2013 inductee Tom Woodard said at the grand opening. “This isn’t just a state golf Hall of Fame, it’s the history of Colorado golf, and to have it at The Broadmoor makes it truly spectacular.”
Or as Colorado and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Hale Irwin summarized at an earlier event at The Broadmoor: “The Colorado Golf Hall of Fame belongs here.”
Located in the Golf Club, Spa and Tennis building, the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Museum is free to the public and Broadmoor guests. Visitors can most easily access the museum through the golf club’s east entrance. The impressive three-story lobby sparkles with a troika of impressive trophy cases—one featuring Craig Stadler’s 1982 Masters trophy—and stars a staircase lined with oversized photographs of Coloradans winning major championships.
In all, 14 Colorado Golf Hall of Famers are visible in the lobby: Stadler, Jill McGill, Nancy Roth Syms, Tish Preuss, Carol Flenniken, Barbara McIntire, Judy Bell, Steve Jones, Dale Douglass and Ed Dudley along the stairway; Dow Finsterwald in his own trophy case; Hale Irwin on the north wall; and, through an entrance in the room’s northwest corner, Babe Zaharias’s follow-through directs you into an adjoining corridor brimming with treasures.
Before following Babe’s drive down the hallway, look to her left. A case featuring golf bags, clubs, photographs and other items pays tribute to Colorado’s Ryder and Walker Cup competitors—many of whom participated in historically significant editions of the biennial international competitions. Other displays near the entry introduce the Hall’s mission and how it lives up to it, as well as the criteria for induction and an explanation of the different awards it gives out every year.
Individually etched in glass and dramatically backlit, the sketched portraits of the 148 men and women enshrined in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame form an impressive gallery built to accommodate more than 100 additional inductees. QR codes enable you learn about all of them via your smartphone—for now. Plans call for the installation of an interactive video kiosk with a seating area where the photograph of Babe Zaharias receiving the key to the city of Denver currently hangs. Facing the faces, as it were, two large display cases contain a magnificent trove of one-of-a-kind items from the personal collections of dozens of inductees.
More than just a “hall of frames,” the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame honors the 136-year history of golf in Colorado. A timeline of that history commands nearly the entire stretch between the portrait wall and the trophy case at the end of the corridor. The chronology highlights not only the feats of inductees and other Coloradans, but the significant events—such as the historic U.S. Opens held at Cherry Hills—that have taken place in the Centennial State. Rare images, vintage golf clubs and magnificent pilasters enhance the milestones, with plenty of room to continue the history-making for decades to come.
Like the trophy cases in the lobby, the endcap case boasts some of Colorado golf’s most spectacular hardware, such as the Pebble Beach Golf Links Golden Vase won by Colorado Golf Association founder M.A. McLaughlin in 1923 and his inaugural CGA Match Play trophy from the first. Nearby, separate triptychs pay tribute to Coloradans who have won around the world and the champions who have triumphed in tournaments in Colorado.
Former CAG editor Jon Rizzi is the executive director of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.
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