The 21-year home of The International gets a premier PGA TOUR event.
By Jon Rizzi
“I’m honored to announce we are bringing the PGA TOUR back to Colorado.”
With those words, Castle Pines Golf Club Chairman and President George Solich put an end to a 10-year drought in the state’s storied history of hosting PGA TOUR championships. A decade after Billy Horschel won the 2014 BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club, Castle Pines will welcome the world’s 70 best golfers to compete in the 2024 edition of the BMW—the penultimate tournament in the Fedex Cup championships.
The TOUR belongs at Castle Pines Golf Club, which hosted The International from 1986-2006. “(Founder) Jack Vickers had this course built for tournament golf,” Geoff “Duffy” Solich said. The older brother of George, who was General Chairman of the highly successful 2014 event at Cherry Hills, Duffy Solich will serve as General Chairman of the 2024 BMW Championship.
AN ORGANIC CONNECTION
The Solich brothers—both former caddies at The Broadmoor, Evans Scholars at the University of Colorado and successful business executives—have served on and advised the Board of Directors of the Western Golf Association/Evans Scholars Foundation, which is sole charitable beneficiary of the BMW Championship. Under George Solich’s leadership, the 2014 BMW Championship generated $3.5 million for the Foundation.
The Soliches also founded the Solich Caddie & Leadership Academy at CommonGround Golf Course, which has produced more than 30 Evans Scholars in its 10-year existence. At the press conference, one of those scholars, recent graduate Helina Seyoum, addressed and impressed the group. A future pediatrician and the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants said she was “beyond grateful for how this scholarship changed my life and my family’s life.”
ZACH AND JACK
The feel-good portion of program amplified the news about the return of the TOUR to Castle Pines after 18 years. When it takes place, tentatively August 15-18, 2024, most of the 70 players in the field will not have ever seen it before. One who had, 2013 BMW Championship winner Zach Johnson, spoke fondly, via Zoom, of Colorado and his two appearances in The International. “It’s a gorgeous course and a golf-thirsty community,” he said.
“It certainly doesn’t lack for beauty,” Jack Nicklaus said as he followed Johnson onto the flatscreen. At the behest of Vickers, Nicklaus designed Castle Pines in 1981, only the third course in what is now a portfolio of more than 400. Nicklaus reiterated how the course was built to host big-time tournament golf, but to host a TOUR event today, the now-40-year-old layout needed “adjustments.”
Those modifications began two years before Jack Vickers passed in 2018. “We have made some excellent changes to the golf course over the last five years,” he said, “which make it more playable but still quite challenging. The players will really enjoy this renewed facility.”
After he went through a quick recap, it became clear that fans who attended The International won’t recognize a number of holes, and the course will play at more than 8,000 yards—“which is only 7,200 at altitude,” Nicklaus said. “I’m anxious to see how it will handle medal play.”
Coupled with the course renovation, the club last year finished a complete modernization of its clubhouse. Long one the favorite spots on the PGA TOUR—renowned for its great shot values, impeccable course conditions, abundant natural beauty and over-the-top food and hospitality—Castle Pines is again ready for The Show.
The entrance to the club’s administration area announces Castle Pines as “The Best Day of Golf in America.”
And as George Solich said, today was “a proud day for Colorado, the PGA TOUR and Castle Pines Golf Club.”
Although all the speakers—including Steve Sands of NBC, WGA President John Kaczkowski and PGA TOUR EVP & President Tyler Dennis—suggested that the PGA TOUR belonged here and that it’d been “gone too way too long”— the 2024 BMW Championship is likely not an audition for annual spot on the PGA TOUR schedule.
“Having a tournament in the same place every year isn’t a model for the BMW,” George Solich said. “We certainly don’t want to be a one-and-done. We’re prepared to be part of a rotation.”
That’s a strong start. “Jack Vickers always wanted Castle Pines to be best-in-class,” Solich said. “And today he would be smiling.”
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