Fred Funk to Design Windsor’s New RainDance National Golf Club
Five years have passed since a new golf course opened in Colorado, and it will take at least another two spins around the sun before RainDance National Golf Club debuts in Windsor, just three miles west of Pelican Lakes Golf & Country Club. But when RainDance does open, it will increase the number of golf holes operated by Pelican Lakes developer Martin Lind’s Water Valley Land Company from 27 to 45, creating what he calls a “resort destination for diehard golfers.”
The 7,535-yard course will also mark the course-design debut of eight-time PGA Tour winner and 2009 U.S. Senior Open Champion Fred Funk. The onetime Ryder Cup player will collaborate with his longtime caddy, Mark Long, and lead architect Harrison Minchew, who spent 25 years with the Arnold Palmer Design Company and counts among his works the site of the 2006 Ryder Cup, Ireland’s Kildare Hotel and Country Club. The three men, along with Lind, announced their plans at a public event at Pelican Lakes May 26.
As opposed to the seven miles of Poudre River shoreline that border the holes at Pelican Lakes and Pelican Falls, RainDance will only feature water—in the form of a 25-acre lake—on one hole, the 491-yard 15th. Instead, rugged hills and deep arroyos distinguish the site, and changes in elevation—there’s about 180 feet of difference between holes 1 and 15, and No. 10 drops more than 100 feet—will be RainDance’s leitmotif. “The property is extraordinary; it’s perfect for golf,” says Minchew. “I’ve been doing this for a long, long time and haven’t seen a site better than this. It’s one of those sites where you don’t want to screw it up. You don’t want to put tattoos on a pretty girl.”
At Lind’s request, Minchew and Funk did the first routing of the course in 2010, “and he told us to be patient,” remembers Minchew, who joined forces with his Ponte Vedra Beach neighbor shortly after setting up his own shop in 2007. Although RainDance will showcase the master-planned community of the same name, real estate only abuts holes 1, 2 and 4, and the homes will sit far from the course. Plans also call for stay-and-play component that will involve onsite lodging and deals with all 45 Water Valley holes.
Designed so it can host a PGA Tour, Champions Tour or USGA championship, RainDance can stretch more than 7,700 yards and will be easily walkable, with rustic, soilbased paths instead of asphalt or concrete. Funk has made clear his desire to keep things as simple and minimal as possible, but “not in a mundane manner,” says Minchew. “There’ll be a rugged look to the bunkers, but they won’t be super big or super deep, and Fred does not like extravagant green contours.”
Still, Team Funk insists that the “championship” quality won’t come at the expense of the higher handicap player. Even the average golfer will have the opportunity to drive a par- 4. “We will provide teeing areas and multiple landing areas so that all caliber of men and women players, after a well-hit tee shot, will be able to hit the same club to a green as a Tour player would use playing the championship tees,” says Minchew.''
This approach will also leave substantial native prairie and arroyos between each of the teeing grounds and between the teeing grounds and beginning of the fairways, allowing the course to minimize water use and be environmentally sustainable.
“There truly is no limit for the potential of RainDance on the national stage, now that we have teamed up with Mr. Funk and his talented crew,” Lind says. “I see the day where blimps are hovering and very exciting things are taking place on this property.”
Such ambitions may border on the quixotic, but the lack of new course openings nationwide should allow RainDance National to make a big splash when it opens in 2016 or 2017. “This opportunity for me is unbelievable,” Funk says. “The land and what we’re working with is going to make a name for itself. I foresee RainDance hosting some significant tournaments in the future.”