Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Club in Aurora, Colorado: Architect Arthur Hills creates another gem
AURORA, Colo. -- Traveling the E470 toll road these days will net the golfer with some fine golf courses. Driving that far east might seem like you're in Kansas, but in reality you've hit the Land of Golf Oz. Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Club is one of those newer courses sprinkled along the new Denver metro eastern beltway.
Heritage Eagle Bend, is a one-of-a-kind, gated 750-acre community for ages 55, and what better activity for the proposed residents than a 7,105-yard Arthur Hills designed championship golf course.
This par 72 is not the typical adult community course consisting of nine-hole or executive lengths. Nope, Heritage Eagle Bend is a beauty with rolling fairways that wind through steep ravines on the hillsides south of E-470. There are few trees on this links-style course and none really come into play anyway.
Architect Arthur Hills is fast gaining a reputation in the golf industry for his design of more than 120 golf courses over a 30-year career and his assistance in renovation of another 100 courses. Colorado courses Hills has stamped with his design signature are the Sheraton Tamarron Resort outside Durango, Pueblo's Walking Stick and Legacy Ridge in Westminster. "Heritage" golf courses for U.S. Home Corporation all contain Hills' exclusive designs, and currently U.S. Home has 32 such master-planned adult communities across the nation, including Heritage Eagle Bend.
Hills' courses have the reputation of being playable yet challenging, while respecting the environment, and Heritage Eagle Bend continues to add to the architect's stellar list of courses. The course meanders through the community like it belongs there, drawing on the canyons, valleys, rolling hills and pristine lakes to increase its challenge and beauty.
Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Club has several holes in the valleys with those holes being visible for their entire length. The course length is moderate -- 7,105 yards Par 72. Hills claims, "Heritage Eagle Bend is a challenging course. The green designs are of a classic strategic style, well-bunkered."
According to Heritage Eagle's Jeff Parker, "The rough is a blend of Kentucky bluegrass and fescue, and the rough is thick and a challenge to hit out of. The course has lots of native grass. If your ball wanders off the course into this grass, take a long iron, shake it up and watch for rattlesnakes." Jeff's favorite (or maybe he means least favorite) holes are 11, 15 and 17, none of which he can lay claim to conquering every time he plays--yet.
It isn't often the starters or player assistants are as helpful as Heritage Eagle Bend's Bill Donovan. Donovan's advice for the first timer on this course is, "Keep in mind that some green depths are 45 yards. Think the holes through and check your guidebook often for obstacles and distances. The measurements are from the top cut of the tee box, so make sure you figure in the placement of the driving tees."
For Hole 1's 385-yard, par-4 from an elevated tee box onto a fairway of rolling hills, Donovan offered this tip, "Drive toward the right bunker. Good hitters could hit left of the first bunker." In any case, this first hole definitely has a feel of a links-style course and is pretty wide open with bunkers guarding along the fairway all the way up to the green. Two bunkers protect the left of this wide and fast green.
Elevated tee boxes, downhill fairways and natural grass challenge the golfer throughout most of the next few holes. Greens are deep and wide with narrow landings.
Donovan warning to golfers pertains to Hole 4's 396-yard, par 4. "Think through hole 4. Play short from the tee downhill to the fairway that opens wide then narrows to the left of the lake, about 251-yards from the back tees. The best lay up shot is just to the left of the lake, with a clear shot of the deep green protected on the right by the lake." This is also the only hole in the front 9 that water comes into play.
A good birdie hole is no.5, a 422-yard par 4. An elongated, tapering to narrow fairway appears almost hourglass-shaped, but a straight shot to the fairway, avoiding the bunkers strewn along the sides, will net an approachable green with birdie written all over it.
The finishing hole for this front 9 is a dogleg right 397-yard, par 4. The slicers will be happy, but the short slicers will end up in the long bunker, sitting at 234-yards from the back tees at the bend of the dogleg. Still, even a bunker shot here will give a clear shot to the wide green with two bunkers protecting each side. All in all, another parable hole if your head is still in the game.
Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Club's back nine
By far the most picturesque nine is the back nine with more water, canyons and vistas to be challenged with and enjoyed. Yeah right -- I translate all that beauty into more lost balls, more frequent waving down the beer cart, and more use of language only heard on the golf course. Still, this back nine offers every golfer an opportunity to shine if they play it smart.
Starting off the back 9 is a long par 5 at 597-yards, driving from a tee box with a lake to right, ending at the front tees. A water fountain distracts your peripheral vision, but the fairway is open with trees and construction to the right, neither that come into play. The fairway crests at the top of the hill then continues downhill to the bottom of the valley. Three bunkers are at about 80 yards in front of elevated green.
A drive across a canyon filled with brush and natural grass is the 207-yard par 3 at Hole 12. Even with a deep 43 yard green at your service, too far left of the green is that same brushy canyon.
Hole 13's 423-yard, par 4, is made longer because it's uphill all the way. Beware the three bunkers sitting mid way in a row, following the uphill climb to the green.
Hole 14's offers a do-able downhill 506-yard par 5 with a great panoramic view of the golf course, in particular looking back to Hole 11's fairway, lake and fountain.
Hole 16 is another one of those preplanning holes. This 410-yard par 4 doglegs right with a drive across a meandering creek that follows the fairway to the green. Two bunkers come into play in the middle of the fairway at 250 to 273 yards from the tee. If you miss the creek and the canyon and don't find your way to the bunker, your shot is straight on to a deep green.
The finishing hole is an uphill 426-yard par 4 climb with the 19th hole at the top of the hill offering a well-deserved relaxing finish--that is once you make it out of this hole. Again, your digging in your bag for a lay up club to hit the fairway just above you and avoid the six bunkers that arc the top of that fairway. Once your clear here, your next shot is again uphill to a 42-yard deep green with bunkers protecting the right.
Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Club: The verdict
After former Arizona golf professional, now Arvada resident, Rod Walters played a round at Heritage, he had this to say, "What a fantastic course, a challenge for all levels of players! You'll need all your clubs, as many holes will demand a shorter lay up shot to stay safe, and the greens are in the best shape I've seen this season, very puttable and well kept."
June 1, 2002