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Best Denver Golf Courses

Posted at 06/22/2017 11:09 AM by Pat O'Connor

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All things being equal, there are few other places I’d rather spend my morning than on one of the local golf courses. I’m not usually a morning person but when I have the opportunity to hit the links, it’s somehow no problem getting up at the crack of dawn.

Over the years, I’ve discovered “before 7:30 a.m.” is the best time to get in 18 holes, or 9 for that matter. This time frame assures there are no crowds, the temperatures are cooler and there isn’t a cloud to be had. Mind you, there are usually groundskeeping operations and mowers crawling around this time and visibility can be compromised from squinting into the sun slowing rising out of the eastern sky, but being able to finish in three hours is one of life’s great pleasures.

Denver residents are fortunate to have city courses with spectacular views of Colorado’s Front Range. What they may lack in numbers or history, the links make up for in scenery that can’t be matched in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles. Regardless of where you live in the Mile High City, it’s likely you live within 15 minutes of a city owned layout. The courses are well kept, the greens are mostly fair and most offer pretty good food and drink. Most importantly, they are all “walkable,” i.e. without the huge distances between holes found on many newer courses.

People on the west side of town can take advantage of Denver owning the Evergreen Golf Course. How does that work? This executive 18-hole course lies within Dedisse Park, which is part of the Denver Mountain Parks system. Situated at an elevation of 7,220 feet, Evergreen Golf Course stands out from its counterparts by offering elk sightings and tall pines lining the fairways. The golf experience also features wonderful “nine and dine events” on Thursday evenings

Every Denver golf course has special events throughout the summer including glow ball, clinics, social mixers and junior programs. There are also 9- and 18-hole leagues for men and women.

Listed below are three of the best city courses, based on my very subjective experiences:

Wellshire

One of the oldest courses in Denver, this gem was designed by the venerable Donald Ross, who was also the mastermind behind the Cherry Hills Country Club and the Broadmoor courses in Colorado Springs.  Wellshire was a private club until the 1950s when the operation was turned over to the city of Denver. Located in southeast Denver at Hampden and Colorado, this course features huge trees, some rolling terrain, and a beautiful old clubhouse which used to house a restaurant called the Wellshire Inn (now a special events venue). Aside from the three holes that parallel Hampden and the 18th which is next to Colorado, this is a great setting for a round of golf. Homes in the Southern Hills/Wellshire neighborhood line the back of the course and there is virtually no water with which to contend (the preponderance of trees make up for it).

City Park

Better golf here and enjoy the classic design before it turns into a water detention area. Slated to hold stormwater runoff to prevent “catastrophic flooding in northeast Denver,” this beloved course will take on a new look in 2019. This favorite among inner city golfers will remain open through the fall of 2017 before renovation and redesign occurs in 2018. The design changes will allow part of the course to temporarily hold and slow floodwaters while protecting the course from damage during rainstorms. According to the City of Denver, this detention area is an essential part of Platte to Park Hill stormwater systems and “it will be integrated into an updated course design that will be even more enjoyable for golfers and help protect some of the city’s most at-risk neighborhoods from flooding.” City of Denver officials assure the public that outside of major storms, the area will remain a dry, fully-functioning golf course.

“After considering technical merits and community input, City Park Golf Course was selected for water detention because it will protect significantly more homes and businesses; enhances an existing city asset; reduces the need for private property acquisition; and provides for future stormwater needs,” according to the City of Denver website.

Convenient to all the downtown and central neighborhoods, City Park offers some of the best views of not only the city but the Rocky Mountains. City Park is generally considered the toughest city course. From the silver “front tees,” it is 5,293 yards long and par 74. There are four par 5s on the back! If you are hitting from the back tees, the course plays 6,708.

The three teams chosen to submit proposals for the new golf design are: Landscapes Unlimited, LLC, with golf course architect/designer Robert Trent Jones II;  Saunders Construction, Inc., with golf course architect/designer Icon Golf Studio and SEMA Construction, Inc., with golf course architect/designer DYE Designs.

Willis Case

The panoramic scenery of the Front Range is reason enough to play this course. Built in 1928, this gem in northwest Denver offers, without a doubt, the most exceptional mountain views of any course in Denver. Sloping fairways, small greens, large stands of trees and an amazing clubhouse and patio make for a memorable golfing experience. This is a short course and there are only two par 5s on the layout; hence the par 70 designation from the two back tee boxes, par 71 for the two front tees. As a result, it almost has an executive golf course feel. Like Wellshire, the abundance of trees make up for the lack of water. Be sure to allow yourself time to enjoy a cold one on the patio after your round. The vista is second to none.

Here are the other exceptional City of Denver courses:

  • Harvard Gulch (south Denver), 9 holes, par 3 course

  • Evergreen (west of Denver), 18 holes, executive course, par 69

  • Kennedy (southeast Denver), 27 holes and 9 holes, par 3 course

  • Overland Park (southwest Denver), 18 holes

There are also four non-city run public golf courses in Denver which also offer unique and excellent layouts:


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Posted by Pat O'Connor

Pat O’Connor has dual citizenship in both Wisconsin and Colorado, having been born and raised in Wisconsin Dells, but later adopted by the Centennial State. A graduate of the University of Colorado (B.S. Journalism, 1980), O’Connor began her career as a sportswriter at the Boulder Daily Camera under the tutelage of the venerable Dan Creedon. Her experience also includes stints in public relations at Aspen Highlands Ski Area, the Colorado Trial Lawyers and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. When she isn’t piecing together sentences, the self-proclaimed “Cheesehead” enjoys hanging out with her three kids and assortment of family pets, running, playing golf, hiking 14ers, horseback riding and skiing. As a mother to two (at one time three) competitive swimmers, her favorite fragrance is eau de chlorine. During football season, she can be found cheering for the Buffs on Saturdays and screaming when the Packers score on Sundays. She loves talking sports and giving recommendations on cheese curds.

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Topics: Things to Do in Denver