Nature galore: There's plenty to see at Deer Creek Golf Club near Denver

By Travel ArticlesJuly 1, 2012, 7:05 pm

LITTLETON, Colo. -- Deer Creek Golf Club, located in the far southwestern fringes of Metro Denver, has a wealth of scenery and geography to keep one busy on an 18-hole journey that traverses protected wetlands, creek beds, rolling terrain, impressive conditioning and some tiered greens.

Built in 2000, this 7,019-yard par 72 is your chance to play a Scott Miller (architect based in Arizona) course in Colorado with views that include the rugged mountain terrain of the Dakota Hogback -- a long, craggy ridge that separates the eastern fringe of the Rocky Mountains with the Great Plains, just off Denver's busy C-470 loop.

Developers of this housing-community golf course had to protect more than 40 acres of wetlands in the building of the 18 holes, and you will discover early in your round that Deer Creek, even though it is mostly a trickle of narrow water, comes into play along with tall grasses that are standing in most water hazards.

Actually, Deer Creek was instrumental in the founding of Littleton, which got its start from the 1859 Pike's Peak Gold Rush that brought not only gold seekers but merchants and farmers to the community. It was Richard Sullivan Little, an engineer from New Hampshire, who first worked with Deer Creek to construct irrigation ditches for the farmers in the area then built the Rough and Ready Flour Mill in 1867, cementing the economic base of Littleton.

Though architect Miller came much later, he relished building the course that had 40 acres of marshland, because he specialized in courses with a target flavor.

'We also spend a lot of time in our office ensuring that the average golfer has a generous landing area for their tee shot,' Miller said. 'So that the golfer doesn't have to stand on the tee box every time and pull another golf ball out of his bag. But our designs allow for the traditional recovery shot, too.'

Besides Deer Creek, Miller designed award-winning We-Ko-Pa, an American Indian-owned course near Scottsdale, Ariz.; Sandia Golf Club, near Albuquerque, N.M.; and the Golf Club at Eagle Mountain in Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Deer Creek Golf Club: Pick a line

Picking a line from the tee is key at Deer Creek. 'The front nine has more undulation and elevation changes,' Assistant Professional Chris Bennetts said. 'The second nine is flatter and has a lot of marshlands.'

If your are finicky about peace and quiet on a golf course, you might not like the eight holes that run alongside super busy C-470. Developers tried to mitigate the noise with mounding and a fence, but it doesn't negate all the rumbling.

The first hole requires a tee shot over tall grasses and water to a generous fairway that bends right and measures 380 from the back tees.

Golfers are quickly introduced to Deer Creek Golf Club's challenges with the demanding third hole. This par 4 is a dogleg right with a forced carry over a huge ravine.

'It's my favorite hole,' said Bennetts, 'because it is the No. 1-handicap hole, and I just like a challenge in a 462-yard par 4 that has length and trouble and a green sitting on a plateau. You have to hit it 200 yards from the back tee just to reach the fairway.'

The seventh hole is definitely a target at 398 yards. Big hitters can bomb it straight but must cover a gully of no recovery. The shorter hitter can go to a fairway right, but the approach must carry the creek to a green that is sloped back to front and is well-bunkered.

Sixteen is a classic island green of 199 yards completely surrounded by the marshlands and bunker in front. Be on the green or be in trouble.

Eighteen is a strong 446 yards that has trees right and a ditch that comes into play diagonally. The tee shot can get in trouble if it is too far right. Best play is down the left-center of the fairway, setting up an approach over the ditch to a contoured green, bunkers left and trees in back.

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Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

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One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to www.playfantasygolf.com to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

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DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

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Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.