1895 America: Prohibition is in its infancy, the venerable “America the Beautiful” is published for the first time, and golf makes its debut in Colorado.
Overland Country Club, the original Denver Country Club now known as Overland Park Golf Club (1801 S. Huron St., Denver), began as a horse racing, sporting and a nine-hole golf retreat for the area’s wealthy in 1895. Now a Denver Golf municipal property, the oldest operating course west of the Mississippi is home to a unique Colorado golf experience. Located close to downtown Denver, the property is home to an 18-hole William H. Tucker design, water and traditional driving ranges, and a 36-hole miniature course named Aqua Golf boarding Overland Lake.
Big, beautiful, menacing trees and narrow fairways will cause you the most trouble on this par 72 track, accuracy from the tee being paramount. But the Overland’s predominantly parallel fairway layout makes scrambling a little easier. Enjoy the downtown Denver skyline throughout your round, and beautiful autumn hues as the leaves change color each fall on Colorado’s oldest course.
A mere three years younger than its northern counterpart — and a short commute from Overland — Patty Jewett Golf Course (900 East Española Street, Colorado Springs) holds the title of the third oldest golf course operating west of the Mississippi, second oldest in the state. The course has grown 18-holes larger since debuting nine holes in 1898, the Willie Campbell design is now played as a par 72 18-hole or par 36 nine-hole. A Springs’ municipal property, minuets away from downtown, Patty’s rich history is apparent the moment you enter the gate. A long driveway under a canopy of 100-plus-year-old trees leads to the impressive clubhouse, seeping with history itself and home to one of the best dining patios in the city.
Each of Patty’s courses has its own personality, challenging enough for average golfers but ripe with scoring opportunities in another wooded, country club-like layout. The famous Pikes Peak, “America’s Mountain,” dominates your view to the west, unobstructed by any urban skyline and often framed perfectly from western facing fairways. Patty does have its flaws, as we’ve noted in a previous review, but this track remains one of CGB’s go-to rounds.
Aside from their history, both Overland Park and Patty Jewett showcase the quality of Colorado municipal properties. County club-like conditions peak in the late spring and summer months and carry into the region’s famously colorful fall, when trees show a range of reds, oranges and yellows. Winter golf in Colorado is an experience all its own, and both Overland and Patty are open year-round.
Courses like Overland Park and Patty Jewett have witnessed the game of golf change through generations of players, and will continue to for the foreseeable future. Visiting one of the country’s oldest courses isn’t something an average golfer gets to do very often, let alone playing two easily over a weekend. A round at Patty Jewett and Overland Park is an act of historic preservation a golfer won’t soon forget.