Sunday, 26 December 2010

Colorado Golf Club

The 2nd at Colorado reminds me of the 2nd at Prairie Dunes

The next three blogs will be a review of the three courses I played while in Colorado. I was once again invited out to play in the Renaissance Cup matches put on by Tom Doak for clients and friends. I renewed my partnership with Bruce Hepner and I played some of the best golf I have played in years.

The day before I was to head out I received an email from architect Mike Young inviting me out to the Colorado Golf Club. I’m a big fan of the architecture of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and really wanted to see the course. The property featured some wonderful rolling hills covered with sporadic Ponderosa Pine, but was mostly wide open high desert. The course featured beautiful views out to the Rocky Mountains and the landscape was a combination of fescues, sage and yucca.

The short reachable 14th at Colorado

The opener was an inviting downhill five with the ground game quite prominent in the approach. The second was my favourite hole on the course, a short three, clearly based upon the 2nd at Prairie Dunes. The third, a clever downhill diagonal tee shot and approach brought the players down to the valley for a series of holes set along the valley bottom. The controversial 5th green was one of my favourites of all the greens on the course. The main architectural feature of the valley area was the small rises used for green sites and the dry wash used as a prominent hazard. Many of these greens contained some very aggressive internal contours which reminded me a lot of Prairie Dunes.

The holes then scrambled up the main ridge and back up to the clubhouse with a series of excellent fours that attacked the hills rather than traversing them. The back nine began as the front, heading down the main ridge lines, but this time the main three was downhill. This was the one hole I was not to keen on since I thought the green was far too severe and I was surprised to find they had built a traditional pond par three. The 12th was the final downhill hole, but this time it played “across the grade” and to the valley below. The 13th turned straight back up the hill and this time traversed the ridge and finished into a lovely small bowl. Finally the 14th went straight off the top of the ridge and finished in a wild boomerang green similar to the 7th at Crystal Downs. Bill Coore had ascended and descended the ridge line in every possible way between the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes. This was probably the most influential part of the design for me.

The 16th with creek between fairways - I'm not a fan of this idea

The final four holes were routed through another smaller valley. The 15th is a wild rollercoaster of a par five that introduces the player to the valley. The 16th featured a par five with alternate fairways on either side of a creek. It confirmed to me that I don’t like the idea of water separating fairways. The 17th plays to natural promontory with the creek hard on the front left. Finally the 18th plays back up to the clubhouse and was my favourite of the four holes.

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