The Village Green at CommonGround

The 18-hole putting course is a trend to follow

CommonGround Golf Course has always been about breaking barriers and bringing more people to golf. The Colorado Golf Association partnered with renowned architect Tom Doak on the design of the golf course so that all golfers could enjoy the classic strategic elements of the game. Numerous programs endeavor to expose youth and families to golf. And with the opening of a new 18-hole Putting Course this spring, CGA executive director Ed Mate is looking to make access to the game even easier.

“You know, you can putt for pretty much your entire life,” Mate says. “So we feel like we are taking away the age barrier. You don’t need any equipment—Ping has given us putters you can check out from the golf shop—so we’ve removed that barrier. You don’t need much time. That’s another barrier. The CommonGround Putting Course is truly furthering the mission of opening the game to everyone.”

When it unveiled the 22,000 square-foot Putting Course designed by Eric Iverson, CommonGround contributed to a trend led by golf meccas Pinehurst Resort, with its rollicking Thistle Dhu Putting Course, and Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, which opened the 2.5-acre Punchbowl Putting Course in May of this year. Of course, these putting courses have their roots at the home of the game, Saint Andrews, where the Himalayas Putting Course has served as home to the St. Andrews Ladies Putting Club since 1867 (the green is open to the public).

Denver resident Jim Urbina co-designed the heaving, rolling Punchbowl at Bandon. Urbina also has a long and fruitful relationship with CommonGround. He sees a trend developing, and he likes it.

Pictured Above: The putting course at Bandon Dunes

“I think we as a game do it all backwards,” Urbina says. “The first thing we ask new golfers to do is the hardest thing of all— hitting full shots. We don’t get to golf ’s greatest appeal—the social interaction with golfers—until we’ve lost half the people who try to learn the game. These putting courses, they get you right to the fun part. Anybody can putt, and you can be playing games and having fun within minutes. And yet you’ve got a framework for the game—the hole is the same size, you get a feeling for movement around a course. It’s a great way to spend time together. People are laughing and having fun.”

Urbina also echoes Mate’s belief that putting eliminates an age barrier. “You know, my dad is well into his 80s. He can’t really make his way around the golf course anymore. But he can come out here and putt, and I brought him out here. That we could share that time together, still playing golf and still rooting for each other and razzing each other—what could be better than that?” While Thistle Dhu and Punchbowl have clearly marked “holes,” complete with tee markers that change from day to day, Mate and his staff are letting the CommonGround Putting Course find its own niche in the community.

“We’re watching how people use it,” Mate says. “I love the idea of an 18-hole Putting Course, but I also love to see people out there, just playing Horse or whatever, winner picks the next hole. Or just seeing a family knock it around in the evening. It’s all about having fun and connecting with golf, making it easy for people to find their way in. If this Putting Course is doing that, then we’re doing something right.”


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