Walking Stick Golf Course showcases the spirit of Southern Colorado

One of Colorado’s most-lauded municipal courses, Pueblo’s Walking Stick Golf Course (4301 Walking Stick Blvd., walkingstickpueblo.com) should be on the must-play list for anyone visiting the area.

The course has made plenty of other “best” lists already, being named “Colorado’s best golf value,” and second “best in state,” by Golf Digest in 1993, and included in the magazine’s 1996 “America’s Top 75 Affordable Courses” list.

The par-72 course borders the CSU Pueblo campus — serving as the home course for the college — with sweeping views of the front range and the southern face of Pikes Peak. The course landscape screams southwestern Colorado, with cacti, yucca plants and desert wildflowers dominating the native areas, and a stunning arroyo housing the high desert wildlife (lost balls beware).

Despite some intimidating looks from the tee box, Walking Stick is very inviting. Landing areas are fairly wide, and reachable for players of any length, and the rough is very playable — even the native hazards yield playable lies in most cases, but beware of snakes! Aside from and handful of tee-to-green challenges, Walking Stick can facilitate low scores, but don’t sleep on this course.

Starting with a wide, straight and short par 4 at no. 1, the layout gets you thinking low scores, especially long hitters, but Walking Stick’s real challenge is its greens. Though fairly large, tiered greens with multiple breaks, false fronts and slopes are a factor here, and the pin placements don’t make things any easier. While the fairways offer the chance to get aggressive on your approach, strategically placed bunkers and fairway undulations also come into play.

One of most challenging holes on the course is the 544-yard par 5 at no.4. The long, arching dogleg left hugs the gorgeous arroyo and keeps the green — and a sneaky pot bunker — from view until your second or third shot. Playing the right side is a must here, and your only chance of reaching the green in two. If you’re left from the tee, a layup is all but guaranteed.

According to the course guidebook, we should note, no.7 is the most difficult hole at Walking Stick. The 462-yard par 4 begins with an intimidating tee shot over an expanse of native area. Again, favoring the right side in your approach will yield the best results, as a miss right will keep you out of a greenside bunker on the left.

No.12 has to be considered one of Walking Stick’s signature holes. The 160-yard par 3 is intimidating from the tee, if you can even see the green. It may as well be an island green, playing in the middle of the arroyo with a small bailout area front left of the green. Too short, left, right or long means trouble from the tee, but if you’re lucky with your miss you may find a play from below the green, or in the right greenside bunker.

While finishing the back 9 it’ll be evident Walking Stick deserves all the credit it’s given as a one of the state’s best municipal courses. From tee to green, the layout is playable for players at all levels yet challenging enough to keep low handicappers on their game. The practice facilities include a full driving range, chipping and putting greens, though space can be limited at times just like any other muni — all the more reason to kill some time at the full restaurant and bar.

We’ll be keeping Walking Stick near the top of our best municipal courses list.

The Broadmoor East Course is elite Colorado golf at its finest

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Nestled at the foot of the mountains in Colorado Springs, The Broadmoor Golf Club’s East Course (1 Lake Ave., Colorado Springs, broadmoor.com) is one of Colorado golf’s most coveted crown jewels. The championship course is no stranger to the highest levels of the game, hosting 6 USGA Championships in its history (a total of 8 championships have been played on Broadmoor courses), and a number of NCAA Championships — and one now-famous black bear.

The world-renown resort is itself a dominant presence in upscale tourist offerings in the area, golf aside, and is celebrating its centennial anniversary through 2018. Perhaps as an early birthday gift, the USGA named the Broadmoor East Course as home of the 2018 U.S. Senior Open, bringing the track back into the limelight 10 years after the hosting its last Open.

At a summer 2017 launch event, Hale Irwin teed off into the wide no.1 fairway, setting up a good look at the uphill green from his second shot. The Donald Ross/Robert Trent Jones Sr. track plays like a country club: overly-inviting fairways in close proximity to one another, speckled with large trees dictating your shots, and highlighted by the manicured hazards, flowerbeds and the lushest of turf. Pristine conditions are a given — this is the Broadmoor we’re talking about — but what really sets the East Course apart from your everyday luxury private club are the greens.

While large and welcoming these greens will cause you a lot of grief, and several strokes, if you’re not extremely careful. The greens slope according to the mountains to aid in finding a line, but otherwise hidden undulations will send your ball sweeping away from the cup if your pace isn’t exact. And the super fast surface doesn’t make it easy, rolling as smooth as you can imagine. It’s no wonder how the Broadmoor East Course earned its challenging reputation in the elite levels of the game.

Courtesy GolfNow

Reprieve can be found in the sampling of the property’s high end amenities found throughout the layout, topped only by the gorgeous green complexes and sweeping views of the mountains to the west, and the sprawling cityscape to the east. The incredible sunsets, glimpses of the historic hotel, and wildlife spotting seem only an added bonus — no matter how many three-putts are on the card.

The front 9 provides the most scoring opportunities with par 5s at nos. 3, 7 and 9, a short par 4 at no.2 and manageable par 3s at nos. 4 and 8. Players will need to capitalize early before making the turn if they want to stay near the top of the leaderboard. The long par 35 back 9 isn’t as friendly, and can be punishing if you’re mishitting or getting too aggressive.

The 240-yard par 3 at no. 12 isn’t making too many friends at this course. Though reachable, the green complex sits above four frontside bunkers divided by a tiny landing  area. Outside of sicking the putting surface or threading the needle and catching the small patch of fairway, chances are you’re playing for par before your second shot.  Sunday’s champion can expect another challenge at the finish on the par 4 at no. 18, possibly the most difficult hole in the course. Vacation cottages line the inside of the tight doglegged fairway leading to a creek cutting off the green. A birdie finish is possible with a good, well placed tee shot and a targeted approach, but a look at the elevated, heavily undulated green from the rough can cause a lot of trouble. (Stay below the hole if you’re playing damage control.)

The Broadmoor Golf Club is a world-renowned destination for historic decadence and its culture of perfection, and that reputation rightfully extends to the East Course. The gorgeous country club setting disguises the challenges of this track very well, making it an excellent choice to host the highest levels of the game. And after enjoying a century of iconic status, the East Course is moving into the mainstream limelight once again to showcase elite Colorado golf.

A version of this story first appeared on GolfNow’s Daily Tee.

The high life at The Country Club at Woodmoor

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There are a number of different ways to describe the country club lifestyle — from sophisticated, premiere and indulgent to, depending on who you ask, stuffy and outdated. But no matter what side of the argument you’re on, there’s no denying country club courses are home to some of the best conditions you’ll find. That may be enough to get an average golfer to shell out a little more cash for a round now and again, but it’s the extra embellishments — and sometimes over-the-top resort luxuries — that send membership prices skyrocketing.

The Country Club at Woodmoor (18945 Pebble Beach Way, Monument, ccwoodmoor.com), a semi-private course located in Black Forest, just off I-25 north of Colorado Springs is an appealing, quaint and peaceful retreat — and everything you could want in a country club, amenities wise. The property, which changed ownership in 2015, features an 18 hole championship golf course by Press Maxwell, an impressive mountain-style clubhouse with 3 dining areas and bar service, 2 pools, a 2-level fitness area, and indoor tennis facilities and more tucked into the surrounding hillsides blanketed in ponderosa pine trees and estate homes. And we can’t forget about postcard views of the Front Range and Pikes Peak in the distance.

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Woodmoor isn’t a course calling for long drives off the tee, covering 6,715 yards (from the tips) at 7,300′ elevation. The holes slice through the thick forest of Lodgepole pines narrowing your view and target lines, and preventing even the longest hitters from cutting corners. The greens on the front all have the back-to-front slant that many early designers used to show members a little love, and enticing everyday hackers tom come back. The greens on the back nine follow a more modern design with larger undulations and multiple tiers. The Woodmoor grounds crew has plenty of pin placement options to make it challenging throughout the round.

Since the change in ownership, the property continues to see upgrades and renovations, including around the green complexes, and on tees and fairways before the 2018 season. CGB made a visit upon invite from membership director and LPGA professional Debbie Zamprelli in the summer.

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This course begs you to attempt those low percentage shots, but shooting for par and planning your shots will garner a better round. Play too aggressive in the trees and you’ll be sending search parties in the woods the rest of the day.

If you’re still feeling confident, test your luck at the short par 5 at no.1, playing only 461-yards from the back tees. It’s a good representation of what to expect from J. Press Maxwell design: tight, meandering fairways, elevated green complexes, and a sea of trees. Standing on a narrow, elevated tee box shaded by trees bordering the length of the doglegged fairway. 230-240 yards into the corner sets up a clear second shot to the green for an eagle look to start. But left and right greenside bunkers stand ready to catch any shots off line.

Our favorite holes on the front included the two par 3s, which provided a reprieve from the left and right turns through the trees. No.3 and no.8 offer hopes to make that elusive ace, but of course they aren’t giving it up very easily. For the majority of average golfers both holes play a middle iron into to the mountains. Both are surrounded on three sides with trees so it’s tough to get a good gauge on the wind speed and direction. The 172-yard par 3 no.3 starts at an elevated position and the green has added protection from a pond and greenside bunkers. The right side has a good bailout area but is covered in deep rough. The 186-yard no.8 is a straight on look at a large bunker sprawled across the right front of the green — the only real threat to a birdie.

The back-nine sets up to be more challenging as the course continues to dip and climb through the rolling, tree-covered hillsides. There are fewer doglegs to contend with with the layout adding almost 200 yards of length, and an increased wow-factor with some tricky blind shots, larger greens, and premiere putting surfaces. The 410-yard par 4 no.12 calls for a solid tee shot from another horseshoe-shaped enclave where the tees stand narrowly looking out to the a rising fairway. A pond on the right side is hidden from the tee but creeps into play with shots favoring that side.

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If you’re somewhat of a nomad/traveling golfer that prefers to play a new course each time out, you’re probably skeptical of joining a club. But the Woodmoor property, at the very lest, makes you consider taking a tour, enjoying lunch, and maybe meeting some of the members and staff.

But for those who just want to plat, the Country Club at Woodmoor does have tee times open for non members (weekdays after 11am; weekends after 1pm). From the outside looking in, it seems hard to beat access to a peaceful property for a day around the pool with the family, or the bar with your foursome, playing some tennis, or socializing with new friends, but the golf a’int bad either.

Once the scheduled renovations are complete, Woodmoor will boast an even more well-rounded property, from the course to the club amenities. It’s a shot-maker’s course that makes you think about your targets to manage the thick surrounding forest while offering a natural sense of rest and relaxation in the wooded foothills. Regardless of your view of the country club lifestyle, you can’t discount tracks like The Country Club at Woodmoor.

Two of the oldest courses west of the Mississippi call Colorado home

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Overland Park Golf Club, courtesy GolfNow.

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.

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A snow-capped Pikes Peak overlooks the bridge to the 9-hole 7th fairway at Patty Jewett in Colorado Springs.

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.

A version of this article first appeared on GolfNow‘s blog The Daily Tee, to which CGB is a contributor.

Denver’s City Park Golf Course closes for stormwater project, remodel to debut 2019

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It’s easy to get used to the city life at City Park Golf Course

Golfers paid a final tribute to Denver’s City Park Golf Course on November 4, bidding a fond farewell to the historic municipal track. After hosting a final day of tee times for social media contest winners and local officials, City Park pulled the pins one last time to make way for the construction zone set to dominate the property for the next year-plus.

The course redesign, which will see a stormwater detention area integrated into the property, a new, relocated clubhouse, additional yardage and larger practice facilities, is part of the city of Denver’s larger $300 million stormwater system plan. And not without controversy.

The extensive project calls for dramatic changes to the 100+-year-old property including the removal of more than 250 trees which brought a group of protesters to the course on its final day. ( A number of those uprooted trees are supposed to be replanted, and the city says the property will have more than trees than it had before with completion of the redesign.) The plan also faced backlash and legal battles since it was announced in April 2016. In November, a judge ruled against plaintiffs arguing the plan violates the city charter while the city continued putting the pieces in place to ready for the scheduled closure, maintaining that the project is vital to address Denver’s stormwater issues now and into the future.

“City Park Golf Course is one of the city’s most beloved and enjoyable golf courses,” said Happy Haynes, Executive Director of Denver Parks and Recreation, in a January news release. At the time, the city was looking for a contractor to “… ensure that City Park Golf Course continues to be one of Denver’s crown jewels for years to come.” It made its choice in July, awarding Saunders Construction, iConGolf Studio with Hale Irwin Golf Design the course redesign project and tapping architect Johnson Nathan Strohe for the new clubhouse. The $40 million project was approved by the Denver city council in August.

CGB played the historic Thomas Bendelow design in the summer of 2017 at a media event. Though it’s not the state’s most notable course, City Park is a gem of a  municipal track, and boasts some of the best views of downtown Denver in the area. Its proximity to residential areas, the Denver Zoo and the city center makes City Park even more fun — a little sliver of Colorado golf history completely surrounded but a bustling modern age. And while the location won’t change, we can only hope Saunders and company pay homage to City Park of old and give the community something to gather around once again.

Denver Golf posts regular updates on the City Park project and expects to debut the redesign summer 2019.

Four Mile Ranch Golf Club seeks feedback from players

Four Mile Ranch, one of southern Colorado’s best links tracks, wants to hear from you.

Open nearly a decade, the Four Mile is facing some questions of its own, including how to tackle water rate hikes proposed by Cañon City. Residential homes continue to be built along the property and the tee sheets remain full, but a dramatic increase in course expenses could spell disaster for the beloved track before it ever reaches its full potential.

Looking towards whatever the future may hold, course operators are asking for users’ input via this brief survey. Take five minutes and fill it out in support of one of Colorado’s would-be rising stars.