City Park Golf Course Weathers the Storm

Heavy rains on Sunday tested the course’s flood-control ability.

By Jon Rizzi

Sunday evening’s deluge sent golfers running for cover—and put Denver’s City Park Golf Course golf course into the spotlight.

Back in 2017, the course controversially shut down for three years while the city converted a portion of it into a stormwater drainage basin as part of its $200 million “Platte to Park Hill” flood mitigation program.

The City Park portion cost $46.2 million and resulted in a significantly improved course designed by Todd Schoeder that featured a low-lying 20-acre “bathtub” in the southwest corner, with the rim of the tub at the 11th tee.

City Park 2
The view from the 11th tee shows the forebay into which drains the stormwater that collects on the low-lying holes (11-14). Photo Courtesy E.J. Carr

During a heavy rain, up to 74 million gallons of water could fill the tub, submerging holes 12, 13 and 14, before draining into the vast guardrailed concrete forebay on the north side of the 11th fairway.

The forebay would then release the water into the stream that snakes between holes 11, 13 and 14 before outflowing between the 16th green and 17th tee on its way through pipes to the Platte River.

Shortly after 7 p.m on Sunday—just hours after Kelsey Webster won the two-day Denver Women’s City Amateur Championship at City Park with a 4-under 136—1.73 inches fell in just 13 minutes.

Kelsey Webster wins the 2022 Denver Women’s City Amateur hours before the rains fell. Photo Courtesy City of Denver

That’s a rate of nearly 8 inches per hour, and it represented City Park’s sternest flood-mitigation test to date, and according to Denver Deputy Manager of Parks Scott Gilmore, “Water pooled where it was supposed to at the golf course, and while some bridges were covered, they were designed to be submerged.”

As Gilmore told, “The stormwater system that was built in City Park Golf Course worked fabulously. I mean, it was 100% full. So all that water that was on the course, that is water that was not in the community.”

Ultimately, Denverite reports, the course did its job, but with the entire Park to Platte Project still unfinished, flooding in neighborhoods north of the course remains a problem.

City Park closed its back nine closed Monday and Tuesday, allowing only walking on the front nine. As of August 10, the course announced its front and back nine will be open to both walkers and carts.

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