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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U.S. Amateur playoff: 24 players for 1 spot in match play

By Associated PressAugust 15, 2018, 1:21 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer and Daniel Hillier were tied at the top after two rounds of the U.S. Amateur, but the more compelling action on Tuesday was further down the leaderboard.

Two dozen players were tied for 64th place after two rounds of stroke play at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill. With the top 64 advancing to match play, that means all 24 will compete in a sudden-death playoff Wednesday morning for the last spot in the knockout rounds.


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They'll be divided into six foursomes and start the playoff at 7:30 a.m. on the par-3 17th at Pebble Beach, where Tom Watson chipped in during the 1982 U.S. Open and went on to win.

The survivor of the playoff will face the 19-year-old Hillier in match play. The New Zealander shot a 2-under 70 at Spyglass Hill to share medalist honors with the 18-year-old Hammer at 6 under. Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas who played in the 2015 U.S. Open at age 15, shot 68 at Spyglass Hill.

Stewart Hagestad had the low round of the day, a 5-under 66 at Pebble Beach, to move into a tie for 10th after opening with a 76 at Spyglass Hill. The 27-year-old Hagestad won the 2016 U.S. Mid-Amateur and earned low amateur honors at the 2017 Masters.

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Hammer in position (again) to co-medal at U.S. Am

By Ryan LavnerAugust 14, 2018, 10:37 pm

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Cole Hammer is in position to go for a rare sweep in this summer’s biggest events.

Two weeks ago, Hammer, an incoming freshman at Texas, was the co-medalist at the Western Amateur and went on to take the match-play portion, as well.

Here at the U.S. Amateur, Hammer shot rounds of 69-68 and was once again in position to earn co-medalist honors. At 6-under 137, he was tied with 19-year-old Daniel Hillier of New Zealand.

“It would mean a lot, especially after being medalist at the Western Am,” Hammer said afterward. “It’s pretty special.”

No stroke-play medalist has prevailed in the 64-man match-play bracket since Ryan Moore in 2004. Before that, Tiger Woods (1996) was the most recent medalist champion.  


U.S. Amateur: Articles, photos and videos


On the strength of his Western Am title, Hammer, 18, has soared to No. 18 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. He credited his work with swing coach Cameron McCormick and mental coach Bob Rotella.

“Just really started controlling my iron shots really well,” said Hammer, who has worked with McCormick since 2015, when he qualified for the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay as a 15-year-old.

“Distance control with my wedges and all my iron shots, playing different shots, has become really a strength in my game. I’ve really turned the putter on this year, and I’m seeing the lines and matching the line with the speed really well. I think that’s been the key to my summer.”

A two-time New Zealand Amateur champion, Hillier is ranked 27th in the world. He said that, entering the tournament, he would have been pleased just to make it to match play.

“But to come out on top, it’s amazing,” Hillier said. “Cole is a really good golfer and has been playing well lately. So, yeah, I’m in good company.”

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Tee times, TV schedule, stats for Wyndham Championship

By Golf Channel DigitalAugust 14, 2018, 9:55 pm

It's the last tournament of the PGA Tour's regular season as the top 125 in the FedExCup points list advance to next week's playoff event. Here's the key info for the Wyndham Championship. (Click here for tee times)

How to watch:

Thursday, Rd. 1: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Friday, Rd. 2: Golf Channel, 3-6PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream

Saturday, Rd. 3: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.

Sunday, Rd. 4: Golf Channel, 1-2:45PM ET; live stream: https://www.golfchannel.com/pgastream; CBS, 3-6 p.m.


Purse: $6 million

Course: Sedgefield Country Club (par 70, 7,127 yards)

Defending champion: Henrik Stenson. Last year he defeated Ollie Schniederjans by one stroke to earn his sixth career PGA Tour win.


Notables in the field

Henrik Stenson at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Henrik Stenson

• Missed the cut last week at the PGA Championship

• Six top-10 finishes this year, including T-5 at the Masters and T-6 at the U.S. Open


Sergio Garcia

• Eight missed cuts in last 10 PGA Tour starts

• Currently 131 in FedExCup standings (33 points back of 125th)


Webb Simpson

• Five top-10 finishes in this event since 2010 (won in 2011)

• 56 under par in last five years in this event (best of any player in that span)

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Faldo: Woods told fellow Masters champ 'I'm done' in '17

By Will GrayAugust 14, 2018, 7:42 pm

Fresh off his runner-up finish at the PGA Championship, it's easy to get caught up in the recent success and ebullient optimism surrounding Tiger Woods. But it was not that long ago that Woods even hitting another competitive shot was very much in doubt.

Six-time major champ Sir Nick Faldo shed light on those darker times during a recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show when he relayed a story from the 2017 Masters champions' dinner. The annual meal is one of golf's most exclusive fraternities, as only the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is allowed to dine with the men who have each donned a green jacket.

Last spring Woods had not yet undergone spinal fusion surgery, and Faldo explained that Woods at one point turned to an unnamed Masters champ and grimly assessed his future playing chances.


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"I know he whispered to another Masters champion, two Masters dinners ago, 'I'm done. I won't play golf again,'" Faldo said. "He said, 'I'm done. I'm done, my back is done.' He was in agony. He was in pain. His leg, the pain down his legs, there was nothing enjoyable. He couldn't move. If you watched footage of him, he couldn't even get in and out of the golf cart at the (2016) Ryder Cup when he was a vice captain."

But Woods opted for fusion surgery a few weeks later, and after a lengthy rehab process he returned to competition in December. His 2018 campaign has been nothing short of remarkable, with a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with a T-6 result at The Open when he held the outright lead on the back nine on Sunday.

After apparently even counting himself out, Woods is back up to 26th in the latest world rankings and appears in line to be added as a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup next month.

"What he's been able to do is unbelievable," Faldo said. "To turn this aruond, to get this spine fusion, it's completely taken away the pain. To have this mobility is absolutely amazing. Great on him, and great for golf."