CASTLE ROCK, Colo. - Colorado's own Jim Engh has accomplished a feat no other golf course architect in the world can claim.
When Golf Digest recently named his TullymoreGolf Club in Stanwood, Mich., America's Best New Public Upscale Golf Course for 2002, it meant Engh had completed a career triple-play for these awards givenby the national magazine.
Previously, Engh's The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa won in the category for Best New Affordable Course in 2001and Sanctuary was proclaimed the Best New PrivateCourse in America in 1997.
That's a triple play - wins in three categories: BestNew Affordable, Best New Upscale and Best New Private.Since Golf Digest changed the awards to thesethree categories in 1996, Engh is the only architectto win all three.
Now transition from triple-play to batting average -Engh's is nearly perfect. Every other golf course hehas opened in the USA has won national awards exceptthe 1997 Columbia Point Golf Course in Richland, Washington. The others winning national awards include Red Hawk Ridge in Castle Rock and Hawktree Golf Clubin Bismarck, N.D.
RockiesGolf.com called Engh the hottest new golf course architect in America back in 1999, but when Engh opened his office in Castle Rock in 1991 awards seemed world's away. He opened with lofty goals, but he placed dreams of awards in thebackground.
"It was a goal of mine to win all three Golf Digest categories," said Engh. "They started giving these awards in 1983 and I thought early in my career that if I could win one it would be an achievement of a lifetime. To get one in all three categories early in my career is just phenomenal. But you can't get caught up in designing a course with anaward in mind. I try just to design the best course Ican on every project."
Colorado golfers may have more Engh prize-winners coming in the future as 2003 dawns with two more Engh courses opening and two more in the development stage. Colorado golfers will also see an explosion of new courses in the Glenwood Springs area.
First to open this spring, however, is Vista Ridge Golf Club in Erie, designed by Jay Morrish. The Club at Ironbridge, a private course in Glenwood Springs, follows with a May debut.
Red Sky Ranch's Greg Norman Course will follow on June 30 and two Engh courses - Fossil Trace Golf Club in Golden and the remodeled Snowmass Golf Club are also set to open in late summer.
Take note of two other Engh projects for the future in Colorado. Lakota Canyon Golf Club near Glenwood Springs in New Castle might just be another national award-winner and a private layout called Pradera Golf Club in Parker are both designed and moving forward.
And this summer Engh also introduces The Club at Black Rock in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Look for it to garnernational awards, too.
Here's a capsule look at the new courses in Colorado for 2003 and some in the planning stages for thefuture.
Formerly named The Sienna Club at Rose Ranch, The Clubat Ironbridge will open on May 2. It's a private course designed by Arthur Hills and is located in Glenwood Springs. Part of the course is are construction of the old nine-hole Westbank Golf Course.
The par-72 course comes alive with sienna-colored cliffs encircling the 18 holes and the Roaring ForkRiver, "blending naturally into the riparian and mountain environment," says Hills.
Engh's redesigned Snowmass Club is destined to be "one of the premier courses on the western slope and in all of Colorado," according to Snowmass executives. Opening is set for Aug. 15 and officials will likely change the name in a meeting this spring.
Alan Ogren, Snowmass superintendent, says the new layout is going to amaze the club's membership and resort guests with its tough bunkering and panoramic pedestal tee boxes. (See separate story on the Snowmass makeover and log on to www.snowmassclub.com).
After 10 years of talk and red tape the city of Golden opens Fossil Trace Golf Club on Aug. 15. This Engh design will be 6,800 yards with the variation of swamp wetlands, flood-protection retention ponds, a former dump ground for fly ash andan old clay mine site.
The site includes the 65 million-year-old tracks of a duckbilled Hadrosaurs, crocodile-like reptiles known as Champosaurs and carnivorous dinosaurs called Theropods and the track of a Triceratops.
Long's Peak will frame many of your shots at Vista Ridge, a Morrish design opening in March. Covering an impressive 232 acres, the course is a 30-percent larger than the typical 18-hole course, with broad fairways and generous landing areas.
Morrish says Vista Ridge is "wide-open prairie andfeatures lots of native areas, creative bunkering and prairie grasses." (www.vistaridgegc.com)
Red Sky's Norman Course is a stern test of golf with beauty and strategy - a great complement to the Fazio Course which opened last summer in ceremonies attended by former President Gerald Ford and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem.
Norman's test measures 7,437 yards at par 72. Resident guests of various Vail Resorts' lodges in Vail and Beaver Creek will enjoy access to golf at Red Sky Ranch. Guest play will be accommodated on the "designated guest course" which will alternate between the two courses. See separate story on Red Sky Ranch's Fazio Course. (www.redskyranch.com)
SolVista Golf & Ski Ranch, formerly known as SilverCreek, opens its second nine this summer. Designed by Mike Asmundson, the opening of the back nine has beendelayed for two years. (www.solvista.com)
Rick Phelps, another award-winner for his Devil's Thumb layout in Delta, could open Colorado's first 8,000-yard golf course in the spring or summer of 2004.
"The property is wide open with sandy soil and no wetlands but it has two sand arroyos that will comeinto play," said Rick, who is starting his 14th year in the business. "I think this course will have awind-blown look with bunkers like Murphy Creek that have ragged edges and tall grass surrounding them.
This new daily-fee Engh course traverses wild ridges, dives into huge canyons and includes wetlands alongthe valley floor. Typical of Engh's vision, the golferwill find himself bombing drives from high atop aridge line into the canyons or striking par-3 shots from one ridge line across a canyon. Projected openingis 2004 or 2005.
This private layout will break ground this spring and features rugged open prairie with canyons and valleys to negotiate. Engh's love of Irish golf, like Ballybunion, will be seen in some of the holes usingthe natural topography. He says there might be acouple of quirky blind shots with a linksy feel that features Irish and American characteristics.
St. Louis-based architect Art Schaupeter says this"big, strategic golf course" could open in May 2004. It measures 7,050-yard championship at par 71.
It will be a high-plains layout, somewhat like Buffalo Run (which he worked on), with deep arroyos running along the eastern property line.
"The width of the course will cause golfers to think,"said Schaupeter who also worked with Keith Foster onHaymaker in Steamboat Springs. "You will need to be onthe correct sides of the fairways to fire at the pinsand that will change daily with new pin placements."
Baxter Spann of Houston's Finger, Dye and Spann has designed Stone Ridge Golf Club, a Trinidad subdivision that could draw more than 4,000 new residents to this historic mining town of more than 9,000. The course will be located on 235 acres in the shadows of Fisher's Peak, with distant views to the Spanish Peaks and Sangre de Cristos.
Pete Schrepfer, the developer, has been secretive about the project, but construction starts this springand will include a 100-room lodge-styled hotel built by the Bison Hotel Group.
Bair Chase Golf and Rod Club has survived an ownership change and construction could start this May. It's another in the growing list of Roaring Fork River golf opportunities and the first Rees Jones-design in Colorado.
Bair Chase will constructed on a 280-acre historic ranching property located between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale and approximately 30 miles down-valley from Aspen.
Jones' design will be a par 72 measuring 7,330 yards. Many of the holes will provide water challenges that include lakes, waterfalls and stream features designed to enhance the views of the Roaring Fork River, Cattle Creek and Mount Sopris.
Arthur Hills has designed a 7,800-yard layout that maximizes the beauty of the Gypsum Creek area surrounded by overhanging cliffs. Valagua, which means "valley of water", could include 27 holes when completed with facilities for tennis, swimming and fitness, as well as hiking trails and fishing areas. (www.valaguaco.com)
One project receiving lots of opposition is justsouthwest of Castle Rock in Douglas County. It'scalled Headwaters and it plans to develop two 18-holeprivate golf courses near Jackson Creek Road.Opponents are screaming about excessive water use intimes of drought, but the project is still alive andmoving forward.
Rendezvous, a 1,150-acre master-planned community located adjacent to Winter Park at the entrance toFraser, is on the drawing board. Long-term plansinclude a championship golf course, resort, hotels, residential opportunities and an extensive trails network. (www.rendezvouscolorado.com)
Scottsdale-based Scott Miller has designed Stillwater Golf Club in Garfield County, a daily-fee multi-use development with homes and 36 holes planned. Construction on the first 18 will begin June 1.
Located between Glenwood Springs and Rifle just offI-70, Stillwater Golf Club's West Course (par 72,7,400 yards) is located just south of the ColoradoRiver, which separates the project from Silt "proper". Dramatic landforms, incised drainage corridors, delineated wetlands and pockets of native vegetation and trees define the project.
Miller, who designed the highly acclaimed We-Ko-Pa Golf Club in Fountain Hills, Ariz., is a protégé of Jack Nicklaus. He designed Deer Creek Golf Club at Meadow Ranch in Littleton as well as the 27 holes of Kierland Golf Club in Scottsdale and The Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Good news for Tom Weiskopf design fans. Flying Horse Ranch, a 1,600-acre mixed-use development by Classic Communities, is inthe planning stages for just north of Colorado Springs.
Weiskopf, who authored The Ridge at Castle Pines North, ranked No. 1 daily-fee course in the state by RockiesGolf.com, will design the golf course and Troon Golf hasbeen engaged to assist with development of the layout. Opening is setfor July 2005.
Morrish says Ravenna, a private golf course in Waterton Canyon could break ground this summer. The site is spectacular with its location in Waterton Canyon at the doorstep of spectacular Roxborough Park. It includes a 27,000-square foot clubhouse, swimming pools, tennis courts and fishing facilities. Developers hope to start selling high-end homes there by 2004.
Matt Eccles has designed a nine-hole private golf clubnext door to Pole Creek Golf Club in Fraser. The design tucks away the course in and around the individual home sites creating added privacy for thehome owners and views for golfers and residents. (www.thegreensatwinterpark.com)
Brian Stahl is eyeing the Stagecoach area 20 minutes south of Steamboat Springs for a development which would include an 18-hole golf course with lake views. This same area was a ski area in the early 1970s, butit went bankrupt and has stood silent since.
Announcement of this Nicklaus designed courseshould happen this spring.
Perry Dye of Dye Designs in Denver has several projects that were put on hold last summer. These include The British 18 at DIA; King's Point Golf Club, a Perry Dye 18-hole, daily-fee course at Parker Road and E-470; and Crystal Valley Ranch, an 18-hole, Cynthia Dye design, daily-fee golf course developed in Castle Rock, just south of the Plum Creek golf community.