LITTLETON, CO - Deer Creek Golf Club at Meadow Ranch, Denver's newest semi-private golf club, has completed construction and grow-in and promises to be a golfer's delight with challenges going hand-in-hand with Mother Nature. Deer Creek has joined the increasing number of Denver area American Golf courses. Other American Golf courses include Arrowhead, Park Hill, Eagle, and Heather Ridge.
Set against the rugged mountain terrain of Dakota Hogback, Deer Creek is easily accessible just off of C-470. In fact, Holes 6-13 run along the highway and turn west, then northwest along Kipling. Mounding on the west prevents the highway traffic from becoming too distracting. The construction distractions from my last visit were minimal this time and in no way took away from the beauty of the course or the game.
As part of a commitment to the land, the developers and owners have incorporated environmental considerations into the design of this course. More than 40 acres of wetlands have been protected. As much as possible, the course is designed around existing elements. Deer Creek features a superb links-style layout with natural grass and treacherous water hazards and out-of-play areas maintained in their natural state. With that back-to-nature background, the golfer feels that he's traveled miles out of the city when in fact it's a short drive to Deer Creek from any metro area.
No matter how beautiful the course is, that very beauty presents the greatest challenges. With Deer Creek's commitment to live in balance with the natural surroundings and the creatures they support, all environmental areas are off-limits and cost the player a one-stroke penalty and a golf ball.
The course offers a tee for every range of golfer, for a total of four, at a par-72. The tournament tees present a challenging 7,003 yards, while the forward tees offer an equally difficult 5,004 yards.
The major disadvantage of first time play on Deer Creek is scratching your head while standing on the tee and asking yourself: "Where am I supposed to hit the dern ball? Where's the fairway? Where's the green?" A returning player would have a definite advantage here. A "green" player would do well to golf with a returner, or dig out a few bucks to purchase the well-mapped out, pictorial yardage guidebook.
Director of Instruction Joe Sarconi advises players "to stay in the fairway." That may seem like pretty sage, tongue-in-cheek advice, but when the fairway is stretched out before you, open and inviting, and the environmental areas intersect or crowd the edges of the fairway, your golf game will fair better if you take his advice.
Let me offer a quick overview of the course to give you just enough itch to play Deer Creek. The par-4 first hole plays only 322 yards from the Tournament tees, although it is tight with trees and bunkers. Hole 2 is a longer par 4, fairly straight with the wetlands on the right. Hole 3 is a par 5, shorter than the previous hole, but with a dogleg left, followed by a par 3 with bunkers at the left middle fairway and back right of green.
Sarconi aptly describes Hole 7: "I call this the island green. You have to hit across the wetlands. Then you're either on the green, or you're in trouble." As he points out, this 199-yard par-3 challenges the non-accurate player with the wetlands lying between the tee box and the green.
To me, the last nine were the most challenging and picturesque. Hole 10 starts off with another undulating fairway for a short par 4 with trouble both right and left making a straight shot mandatory. Hole 14 is Deer Creek's signature hole and a great birdie opportunity on this par-4, which is fairly straight. The undulating hills pose the question of where you should lay up. Stay straight and be safe.
Hole 15 is a long par-5 with a view that will take your breath away. Water hazards appear on the right with a lake and a canal, and the left is rough on the hill. In the horizon is a stupendous view of the mountains. Be cautious of the right slope that could pull your ball into the water like a magnet.
Hole 17 and 18 both face the clubhouse and are fantastic finishers. The par 3 17th presents the wetlands to your left with a lot of green to work from, but be aware of the water snaking around the right and back sides of the green. A slight dogleg right at Hole 18 gives you a par 4 with trees and wetlands to your right and on the left, your obstacle is the rough and office buildings.
The best part about golf in Colorado is the ability to play almost year-round. Sure it snows, but as the locals say, "you don't like the weather? Wait a few days." Serving up 300-some sunshiny days a year, Colorado golf can be played as easily in December as it can in July. All you have to do is bide your time.
Deer Creek Golf Club at Meadow Ranch is one of many must-play metro Denver courses. The staff is friendly and the course is well kept and demands attention to each hole and every shot. Plus Deer Creek gets you back to nature with its environmentally maintained wetlands and wildlife. What more could Colorado golfers ask?
8135 Shaffer Parkway
Littleton, CO 80127
Tel: (303) 978-1800
Tournament Tees: 73.2/135 7003
Back Tees: 69.9/126 6493
Middle Tees: 66.3/117 5773
Forward Tees: 63.2/108 5004
18-Hole Green Fees:
Twilight after 3 pm: $30 M-Thurs; $40 Fri-Sun
Cart fee and range balls included in the green fee.
Greens Type: Bent
Director of Instruction: Joe Sarconi
Head Professional: Rick Schultz
Nike Learning Center staffed by top PGA professionals to aid you in perfecting your game.
Practice Facilities: Grass driving range, putting green, chipping area.
Golf Shop: No golf course is complete without an incredible selection of golf merchandise and Deer Creek offers just that with a wide range of golf products including custom club fitting.
Brass Antler Bar and Grille: Housed in the Club House, this restaurant offers the same panoramic sights as above with a fireplace view of the 18th fairway. The wrap around patio also sports a view of the 18th green and fairway and a great opportunity to talk about the balls that got away. Breakfast and lunch served with seating for 30 guests overlooking the course. Sunday brunch also served. Reservations accepted.
Cocktail Bar: Full service bar seating 25 guests.
The first large dinosaur in the world was discovered on Dinosaur Ridge. Today you can still see dinosaur tracks as you follow a one-mile interpretive trail and visit a small museum that gives the history of the Morrison Formation, the rock outcropping in which the bones were found. Call ahead for museum hours.
16831 W. Alameda Parkway
Morrison, CO 80465
Phone: (303) 697-8911
Or if your preference runs to the live variety of animals, point your vehicle to the mountains. Take C-470 to I-70 West and check out the City of Denver's buffalo herd at Exit 250. Denver maintains a herd of 40 buffalos in a natural setting and are direct descendants of the last wild buffalo herd left in America. Travel a bit further west to Genesee Park, Exit 254. You'll find elk and buffalo enclosures with plenty of live specimens and a scenic overlook atop Genesee Mountain to keep your camera clicking.
While you're headed this way, keep on driving west to Idaho Springs and stay at the Indian Springs Resort. Visit the hot natural springs once shared by the Ute and Arapahoe Indians. Lose your troubles in geothermal cave baths, swim in therapeutic hot springs pool, outdoor Jacuzzi or try club mud to ease the golf muscles.
302 Soda Creek Road
Idaho Springs, CO
Phone: (303) 989-6666
December 21, 2001