Into Thin Air
Ask any major leaguer who has played at Coors Field in Denver: Balls fly farther in the mountain air; they also don’t curve or break as much. The same holds true for golf. The lighter air reduces lift and drag, enabling the ball to maintain speed better and fly longer and straighter. At a mile high, the same shot will travel 7 percent farther than it would at sea level. So a 250-yard drive at Pebble Beach will fly about 268 yards at Cherry Hills. At the Raven at Three Peaks, which sits above nine thousand feet, that drive will go 280 yards. To take advantage of these conditions, consider playing a higher-spinning ball than usual. The extra spin will give you more lift, increasing your carry.
Venerable Cherry Hills Country Club (1922), a William Flynn layout in Englewood, and Castle Pines Golf Club (1981), the Jack Nicklaus course in Castle Rock that hosts the International, resist most reciprocal play. But two courses of more recent vintage in the suburbs south of Denver—Jay Morrish’s Golf Club at Ravenna, slated to open this spring, and the Jim Engh-designed Club at Pradera (2005)—haven’t yet earned such exclusive status. In the timberland east of Pradera, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw’s new Colorado Golf Club is courting national members, and pilgrims are heading to Ballyneal (2006), Tom Doak’s tour de force in the linksy sandhills of northeastern Colorado.