TPC Colorado earns two major distinctions
By Jon Rizzi
TPC Colorado in Berthoud continues to command the attention of the golf world since it opened in late 2018.
In its December 2019 issue, Golf Digest named the Arthur Schaupeter design the No. 3 Best New Private Course in the United States, finishing behind Gil Hanse’s Ohoopee Match Club in Georgia and The Summit Club, a Tom Fazio/Andy Banfield collaboration in Las Vegas.
And on December 3, the course also became one of only six honorees in the prestigious American Society of Golf Course Architects Design Excellence Recognition Program.
The ASGCA—an elite, 169-member organization founded in 1946 by Donald Ross, Robert Trent Jones and other prominent course architects—instituted the award, which annually honors members who address unique design challenges, ranging from new 18-hole layouts to renovations to new and updated practice facilities.
After reviewing the nominations, a panel of golf-industry leaders representing the Club Managers Association of America, Golf Course Builders Association of America and Golf Course Superintendents Association of America recognized Schaupeter’s work at TPC Colorado.
“This is a bit different than a ‘best of’ list,” says Schaupeter, a Colorado native who works out of St. Louis. “It’s more about problem-solving. In this case, it was the overall challenge of designing a legitimate PGA TOUR course at a mile high—when even at sea level the game has gotten really long for the best players—but also having a course that members and ordinary golfers will enjoy playing.”
From the tips, TPC Colorado stretches just shy of 8,000 yards—with 773 of them coming on the mammoth par-5 13th hole—and last July the course hosted the Korn Ferry Tour’s inaugural TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes, won by Argentina’s Nelson Ledesma.
As the award citation reads:
“How do you provide a fun, engaging golf experience for recreational players 51 weeks of the year, and a challenging PGA TOUR-caliber track one week of the year? Accommodating spectators, hospitality tents, parking and the rest of the infrastructure needed for the event were part of the considerations.”
Schaupeter’s solutions included:
- Seven tees to set the course length from 4,157 to 7,991 yards.
- 55 acres of fairway to create a lot of fairway width space to play for recreational players.
- Larger, undulating greens to give recreational players a better chance at hitting the green while creating strategic hole locations for tour players.
- Combining stacked sod-wall bunkers with traditional-shaped bunkers to add strategic variety and visual interest.
- Bringing together wider fairways, larger greens and a diversity of greenside influences to create more angles of approach, strategic variety and interest for all players.
Work of Art
“A lot of people focus on the 7,991 yards, but the forward tees are around 4,100 yards,” Schaupeter says. “That’s considerably shorter than the forward tees on most courses. The next ones up are 4,800.”
Creating a seven-tee range of more than 3,800 yards has paid dividends for membership sales. “Couples were coming out, and it wasn’t the men who were insisting on joining; it was the women,” Schaupeter says. “They saw they could find a length they’re comfortable playing, without any forced carries.”
The club currently has around 300 members, many of whom watched the pros take on their course from the tips last July.
“I watched every round,” Schaupeter says of the Korn Ferry event. “I wondered how the course would play. The very first group that went out on the 624-yard first hole, one guy hit driver, another 3 wood and the third an iron. That made me happy.”
As well it should have. On a tour where winning scores routinely exceed 20-under, Ledesma’s 15-under 273 was neither too high nor too low, with 29-year-old Argentine needing to sink a clutch 20-foot putt for his only birdie on the back nine to win by a stroke.
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