COLORADO SPRINGS, CO - On the wall in the historic clubhouse at Patty Jewett Golf Course is a large black-and-white photo of Paul Ransom, long-time head pro.
The photo shows Ransom as a teenage caddy at The Broadmoor in 1948 flanked by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Augusta National's Clifford Roberts, washing machine magnate Bud Maytag and long-time Broadmoor pro Ed Dudley.
It's a reminder for today's younger generation about golf history in Colorado Springs. And gives juniors a look back at Ransom, who made history as the head pro at Patty Jewett, which is considered by many the birthplace of golf in Colorado.
Oh, someone in Denver will tell you about Overland Country Club that opened in 1893 as a nine-hole course in the middle of a horse track and later moved to become the Overland Park Golf Course. But Patty Jewett has been in continuous operation since 1898 in the same location and ranks as the third oldest course west of the Mississippi.
Patty Jewett has been a junior training ground for decades thanks to the leadership of former pro Ransom and you never know who you might see here. Rocco Mediate was spotted one day recently on the putting green - his nephew is in one of the junior programs here as well as the nephew and niece of Mark Calcavecchia and the son of Mark Wiebe.
Another prized photo that hangs in the clubhouse is of Jack Nicklaus, who congratulated Patty Jewett on its 100 years with his autograph and inscription.
Patty Jewett, with awesome views of Pikes Peak, has been a city-owned course since 1919 and regularly hosts the Pikes Peak Amateur Tournament, won by Hale Irwin in 1965. But, perhaps the importance of a course like Patty Jewett is the preservation of history and the way golf was played in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Willie Campbell, a flashy Scot, was part of that early history. He designed Patty Jewett and also laid out The Country Club at Brookline, MA, site of the 1999 Ryder Cup.
Today's Patty Jewett is a par-72 course at 6,811 yards. It features squiggly fairway boundaries guarded by thick, gnarly rough that will put the brakes on any wayward drive. If your drive finds the rough here you automatically lose 15-20 yards.
There is also a generous amount of trees, some cottonwoods placed in strategic places on corners and doglegs, and a small creek that traverses fairways in just the right places to make a thinking golfer stop and contemplate every shot.
Golf historians and students of classic golf course design always ask if today's 18-hole routing is the same as in 1898.
"This is the course I grew up on," said Steve Collins of Austin, TX. "I've always seen the layout in two halves. The front nine is obviously a classically-designed course, mostly flat but with interesting bunkering and century-old cottonwood trees. The back nine runs over more spacious land, has none of the old trees and seems decidedly modern.
"The nine-hole course on the property has the design features of the front nine of the 18-hole course and the cottonwoods to boot. I've always wondered if the front nine and the nine-hole course were the original 18 holes. Yet, the official descriptions of the course state that Campbell designed the 18-hole course and Mark Mahanna designed the 9-hole course in 1967," Collins said.
Dal Lockwood, Director of Golf for the Colorado Springs municipals, says Collins' theory is pretty accurate.
"That theory is close, but not entirely accurate," said Lockwood. "There were other holes in play that you can still see remnants of, but it is easier to say the original course consisted of the front nine and the nine-hole course. The renovations designed by Mahanna were implemented in 1967. They are most easily recognized by the drastically undulating greens."
Rick Phelps, a Colorado golf course designer, has heard many stories about Patty Jewett over the years. His dad, Richard, is in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame for a prolific 40-year career in the design business.
"The course, like so many others of the early golden age, started out as a private club called the Town and Gown Club," Phelps said. "It went bankrupt and was purchased by a group of men including the likes of one William Jewett, who was a good friend of Colorado Springs founder, Gen. William Jackson Palmer."
"Jewett eventually bought out all of the other partners and by the late 1910s to early 1920s was in a position to give the golf course to the city. His two stipulations for the gift were that the course be named after his wife (Patty) and that the grounds must never be anything but a golf course or park," Phelps recalled.
Phelps said his dad and uncle, who both grew up in Colorado Springs, played the course many times during the 1950s and 1960s. Phelps says that sadly, many of the course's bunkers were removed during that era. "It happened all over the USA under the blanket excuse of speeding up play," he said.
"We (Phelps Golf Course Design) have done some minor renovation to restore some of the original greenside bunkers and return others to their original depth, but there are a number of others that are not planned on being replaced for various reasons," Phelps said.
Loren Lutz, a local Patty Jewett fan, frequent player and golf coach at Sand Creek High School, said it's an ideal public golf course.
"I can play for $20, the pace of play is good, conditioning is good and the people are friendly. What more could you want? The par-3 holes are long and challenging and I like the fact that a couple of holes take the driver out of your hands (Nos. 9 and 10). The finishing holes are long and tough so you have lots of variety in this layout."
Lutz says he has always heard that back in the 1960s and 1970s there were more rounds per year played at Patty Jewett than any course in the west. "Of course that was before the days of the golf boom and buildup of courses in Arizona," Lutz said.
Collins is one who often thinks of those early days of Patty Jewett.
"Back in the late 1800s, Colorado Springs was a pretty ritzy summer home for the elites of East Coast industry - thus, the need for a golf course in the west. You can still see the wealth of those old days in the immense Victorian and Queen Anne homes in the downtown areas of Colorado Springs. In 1898, the location of Patty Jewett would have been in the boondocks plains, a mile or so out of the city. Today it is central town," Collins said.
Make the drive through the wrought-iron gates of Patty Jewett, head down the lane bordered by 102-year-old trees and you might feel the history and a step back in time.
900 E. Española
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Green Fees: $20-$27. Carts: $22.
Directions: From I-25 take the Nevada Exit off I-25. Then head East on Española to Patty Jewett Golf Course.
Check out this story on Brackenridge Golf Course near downtown San Antonio. Texans Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Jimmy Demaret walked here. Hogan used it as a winter practice haven. Even Walter Hagen, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer struck drives here, where the PGA Winter Tour was born. Juggs McSpadden posted the course record of 59 in 1955.
Where to Stay: The historic Cliff House at Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs has long been an integral part of the life of this small town located near Colorado Springs at the base of towering Pikes Peak. Built in the winter of 1873, The Cliff House at Pikes Peak has been open to guests longer than Colorado has been a state, compiling a fascinating history of its own over its 125 years.
In the late 1850s, Manitou Springs was central to the gold mines and miners in the Pikes Peak area. The structure that became the 20-room boarding house known as "The Inn" originally was a stagecoach stop on the route from Colorado Springs to Leadville, one of the most famous stagecoach runs of the American West. Even the earliest guests, mostly trappers and hunters on their way to or from Colorado Springs, were drawn to the inviting parlors and rambling porches.
Ask to stay in one of the specialty suites, named in honor of one of The Cliffhouse's former guests. Mine was the Clark Gable suite.
306 Canon Avenue
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Tel: 888-212-7000 or 719-685-3000.
Where to Dine: The Cliff House Dining Room is one of the best dining experiences in Colorado, winning AAA's Four Diamonds Award in 2002.
The cuisine is Nouveau Continental - driven by local ingredients. There is a wine list that exceeds 550 selections. The Cliff House also has six certified sommeliers, two of which are certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Things to Do: Colorado Springs boasts three of Colorado's most popular tourist attractions: The U.S. Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak Cog Railway and the sports activities related to the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Don't miss these area attractions when visiting the Springs to play Patty Jewett - Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, Cave of the Winds, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Flying W Ranch.
Log on to www.coloradosprings-travel.com for all the contact information.
Another way to see the area is in a hot air balloon with Adventures Out West. Log on to www.adventuresoutwest.com or call 800-755-0935 for more details.
5-Point Scale Value
Par 3's: 3.7
Par 4's: 3.6
Par 5's: 3.6
Practice Facilities: 3.7
Club House/Pro Shop: 3.8
Pace of Play: 4
Overall Rating: 4.1
Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Paul Ransom's life-long golf journey began when he was a young boy. As a caddy at The Broadmoor, he carried the bags of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and future United States Golf Association president Judy Bell.
It was only the beginning of a storied career that concluded by heading up the Patty Jewett golf program from 1977 to his retirement in 2000.
He spent his entire career in Colorado with one exception. From 1959 to 1963 he was the head professional at Liberal (Kansas) Country Club. He also served as head professional at Valley Hi Golf Club in Colorado Springs.
After winning the Colorado State High School Championship in 1951, Ransom moved on to North Texas State University where he was captain and Most Valuable Player of the 1958 golf team.
He served on the executive committee of the Colorado Section PGA and, in 1989, was named the Colorado Section's Golf Professional of the Year and Junior Golf Leader of the Year, the first to receive both awards in the same year.
Ransom's greatest contribution to golf in Colorado has been his work with juniors. He founded the Colorado Springs junior golf program and has been a force in its development over the years. One visit to Patty Jewett will confirm his dedication to seeing that new generations of golfers are influenced with his love of the game: There are always youngsters waiting to tee it up.
In 1997 Ransom received the Colorado PGA's Warren Smith Award, named for the former Cherry Hills Country Club professional. The award recognizes outstanding lifetime achievement. Ransom was just the ninth professional to receive the award. Consummate gentleman, superb teacher, community leader - Paul Ransom's presence honors the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame. - From The Colorado Golf Association.
August 29, 2002