Of all the technological advances in golf, arguably none has revolutionized the game more than the motorized cart. Scourged by purists, the now ubiquitous buggy has literally taken golf to new levels: into terrain so vertiginous it’s otherwise navigated only on skis or by rope and belay. Nowhere is this more evident than in Colorado, where without the aid of an E-Z-GO even Lance Armstrong’s legs would burn during a round at any number of Rocky Mountain layouts. And the list keeps growing: Over the past decade and a half, more than a hundred new courses, the work of virtually all of the game’s finest architects, have opened across the state, from the red-rock mesas of Grand Junction to the rough-hewn sandhills near the Nebraska border.
But it’s not as if golf just arrived here. Cherry Hills Country Club outside Denver has hosted three U.S. Opens, including in 1960, when Arnold Palmer began a final-round charge to victory by driving the green at the par-four opening hole. A year earlier, Jack Nicklaus won the U.S. Amateur at the Broadmoor, the iconic Colorado Springs resort, which, by the way, will stage the 2008 Senior Open.
Beyond the state’s double-black-diamond golf, its gourmet food and classical music festivals thrive in the glorious settings of Aspen and Vail. And the Denver Art Museum recently unveiled a striking new Daniel Libeskind-designed addition, a tangle of long, sharp, shiny triangles that evokes the mountains and stands as a symbol of a revitalized city.
Where to Play
The Broadmoor, East * * * * *
Host of two U.S. Amateurs and the 1995 Women’s Open, this historic parkland layout is already being groomed for next year’s Senior Open. But it’s the bones of the Broadmoor’s East course that impress the most: a seamless combination of strategic Donald Ross holes from the original 1918 design and brawnier holes built by Robert Trent Jones Sr. more than a generation later. Towering pines and oaks frame the bentgrass fairways, and steep bunkers and false fronts protect some of the most indecipherably crowned greens this side of Pinehurst. When putting, you’re better off trusting your ears instead of your eyes: Every quarter-hour, bells peal from the Will Rogers Shrine atop nearby Cheyenne Mountain, and every putt, without fail, breaks away from the shrine. Architects: Donald Ross, 1918; Robert Trent Jones Sr., 1958. Yardage: 7,130. Par: 72. Slope: 135. Greens Fee: $190. Contact: 1 Lake Avenue, Colorado Springs; 800-634-7711, broadmoor.com.
The Broadmoor, Mountain * * * * 1/2
Completing an arc begun as an amateur, Jack Nicklaus returned to the Broadmoor as an architect in 2003. His charge was to completely redesign the Mountain course, which had been chewed up by underground springs and erosion. The course reopened last year, and it’s safe to say that the Golden Bear triumphed again, adding penal rough and meaty shoulders to a site that clings to the side of Cheyenne Mountain. Despite opening with a string of five par fours, the course bucks and kicks with such variety that it never gets monotonous—and never lets up. Bunkers gape from the landing areas, and greens shed approaches that have the misfortune of finding the wrong tier. Architects: Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay, 1975; Jack Nicklaus, 2006. Yardage: 7,637. Par: 72. Slope: 149. Greens Fee: $190. Contact: 4325 South Club Drive, Colorado Springs; 800-634-7711, broadmoor.com.