For the Love of Munis: Denver Courses Celebrate Anniversaries

Wellshire Golf Course
Wellshire Golf Course’s 8th, designed by Donald Ross (above) for $1.50 in 1926

Next month marks the 90th anniversary of Wellshire Golf Course, which opened as a private club on August 29, 1926. In the wake of the Great Depression, the City of Denver purchased it in 1936 for $60,000—one-sixth of what the members paid just to build the magnificent Tudor-style clubhouse. Today Wellshire remains the only Donald Ross-designed municipal course west of the Mississippi River and one of the most popular of Denver’s seven golf facilities. Ben Hogan won the 1948 Denver Open at Wellshire, and Arnold Palmer called the 412-yard seventh hole the toughest in the state. Three USGA Public Links championships took place here—the final one in 1959, when Bill Wright became the first African American to win a USGA Championship.

Women at Overland Golf Course in 1897
A group of women at Overland Golf Course in 1897

Located at Colorado and Hampden, Wellshire isn’t the oldest course in the Denver system. That distinction belongs to Overland Golf Course, the original site of Denver Country Club, which opened in 1896 (making it 120 years old this year) and hosted an exhibition by the great Harry Vardon in 1900. Bordered by the South Platte River and Santa Fe Drive, Overland predates by 16 years City Park Golf Course, current headquarters of The First Tee of Denver, the nation’s second largest First Tee chapter. 

Willis Case original clubhouse
Willis Case’s original clubhouse

The First Tee has junior courses at City Park (Chubb’s Course), Wellshire (Hogan’s Alley) and Willis Case Golf Course (Katie’s Course). Perched near Inspiration Point with panoramic views of the mountains, Willis Case opened in 1936. So as it turns 80 this year, see if you can shoot its age—or Wellshire’s or at least Overland’s.

The best parts? All courses are walkable and the most expensive 18-hole round runs $39.


Donald Ross
Donald Ross designed Wellshire which opened in 1926
Overland Golf Course
Overland Golf Course turns 120 in 2016


Walter Fairbanks
Overland was the club of golf pioneer Walter Fairbanks


The scenic first tee at Willis Case in Denver
The scenic opening tee shot at Willis Case in Denver

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