Denver golf: Mixing venerable Cherry Hills and Colorado Golf Club with area munis

By Brandon TuckerOctober 24, 2012, 2:04 am

DENVER, Colo. – Life sure is good inside the gates.

Never was the contrast between the club life and the public golfer so prevalent and revealing than during my recent visit to the Mile High City.

In a span of just over 48 hours, I played two of the best private courses in Colorado: Cherry Hills Country Club and Colorado Golf Club – followed by two rounds at city-owned municipal courses, Coyote Creek Golf Course in Fort Lupton and Park Hill Golf Club in Denver.

Talk about alternate universes. It was amazing to experience the difference between the course conditions, the layouts themselves, the settings around each and maybe most interesting, the way golfers acted during my rounds.

Modern minimalism at Colorado Golf Club

There are few signs of the early financial troubles of Colorado Golf Club (pictured above), a dynamic 7,602-yard Bill Coore & Ben Crenshaw design that opened in 2007 in Parker, southeast of Denver. The club sparkles today with a stunning stone clubhouse that serves tremendous food (try the buffalo meat chili), a handful of luxury villas for members and their guests and a gorgeous golf course ranked fifth in the state by Golf Digest and No. 35 among the top 100 modern golf courses by Golfweek.

The minimalist tendencies of Coore and Crenshaw work particularly well on this rolling scrubland site. Their scruffy-edged bunkers visually pop against the firm green turf and stark high desert terrain. An endless parade of risk-reward shots on drivable par-4s and go-for-broke par-5s should play a role in who wins the 2013 Solheim Cup. The course certainly shined in the 2010 PGA Senior Championship when back-to-back final-round eagles on par-5s at No. 15 and No. 16 put Fred Couples into a playoff with eventual champion Tom Lehman.

“It’s a very strategic course,” Lehman said then. “One of the reasons why I like it so much, there’s so many options and decisions you have to make, and I really believe that it gives you the ability to really go for it as much as you want to or not.'

It was the kind of course that I could play every day and never tire of trying to solves its nuances.

History thrives at Cherry Hills Country Club

Cherry Hills

Cherry Hills Country Club

I’ve been lucky enough to walk into some historic clubhouses at Oakland Hills, Pebble Beach, Sahalee, Pinehurst, Crystal Downs, East Lake and elsewhere, but none gave me the sense of history and tradition like Cherry Hills.

The club’s new Hall of Champions is a profound tribute to its tournament lore. Just steps inside the doors, there’s a large mural, the iconic image of Arnold Palmer throwing his cap in the air to celebrate his come-from-behind win at the 1960 U.S. Open. Glass cases hanging on the wall showcase artifacts from each of the club’s major events, from Phil Mickelson’s U.S. Amateur win in 1990 to the 1993 U.S. Senior Open victory of Jack Nicklaus and more. One case holds clubs that played a key role in securing certain tournaments, like the sand wedge Birdie Kim used to hole a bunker shot at No. 18 to steal the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open.

Outside, there’s no better walk in golf than Cherry Hills, a traditional parkland layout ranked No. 67 among the top 100 courses in America by Golf Digest. Go ahead and try to drive the first green like Palmer did in 1960. Thick rough and subtle breaks on treacherously fast greens befuddled players at the 2012 U.S. Amateur. Next up is the 2014 BMW Championship. The drumbeat of history marches on at Cherry Hills.

Surviving 36 holes of 'Muni-mania'

Park Hill

Park Hill Golf Course

Privilege does come with a price at those clubs. Both the Colorado Golf Club and Cherry Hills have strict no cell phone policies. The Colorado Golf Club doesn’t allow hats to be worn inside the clubhouse. A strict pace-of-play regimen at Cherry Hills keeps members constantly on the prowl for slow-playing guests.

All those rules, obviously, go out the window in muni-land. One golfer I played with at Coyote Creek wore jeans. He also dared me to hit a tee shot out of bounds on the sixth tee, aiming at a huge water storage drum. I nailed it on my second attempt, completing what was essentially my initiation into their circle of friends in golf.

A twosome of buddies I was paired with at Park Hill blasted music from an IPOD inside their cart. The third member of our group was a beginner who would have never survived Cherry Hills’ pace-of-play requirements. I couldn’t help but wonder how quickly all these golfers would get tossed out of Cherry Hills or the Colorado Golf Club for such behavior.

The munis had none of the shot values or conditions of the private clubs. They both were relatively short, Coyote Creek at 6,412 yards and Park Hill at 6,592 yards. There were no truly memorable holes or magical moments, either. For various reasons, though, those rounds were almost as fun, thanks to the people I played with and the relaxing come-one, come-all atmospheres. They reminded me life outside the gates isn’t too shabby after all.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm