The Heritage at Westmoor golf course in Westminster, Colorado: Integrating a diverse eco-system into an exceptional course
WESTMINSTER, Colo. -- The Heritage at Westmoor is another of the long list of amazing golf courses in the Denver area.
The Heritage is located in the hills between Highway 36 and Highway 93 and west of Wadsworth and 108th. Built in an open prairie environment, away from the hustle and bustle of too much construction and too many houses, this course features many natural areas and dramatic views of both the Rocky Mountains and the Denver area.
The perfect architectural design team for a course that wanted to maintain the quality and beauty of the environment is without a doubt the world-renowned golf course design team of Hurdzan/Fry. This design team has been recognized throughout the golf industry. Golf Digest has called Dr. Michael Hurdzan, "his field's leader on environmental issues." Golf World Magazine has honored Hurzdan with their prestigious "Architect of the Year" award.
Recently, Golfweek recognized Hurdzan's partner, Dana Fry, as one of their "Forty over 40." Born in 1962, this award signifies that Fry is one of the forty up and coming architectural stars. In an interview in the Jan. 27, 2001 issue of Golfweek, Fry tells of his company's hands-on philosophy. "Lots of people think all golf course architects do is visit a site and wave their arms to explain their designs. That may be true for some celebrity designers. But real golf course architecture is a time consuming, detailed, demanding, tedious, trial-and-error process of methodical planning in efforts to find the right compromise between site conditions, design principles and a client's budget."
The special care architects Hurdzan and Fry provide is clear from the moment you step onto The Heritage course, a member of the Audubon International Signature Status Program that promotes environmental awareness, sound land management practice and natural resource conservation. All key philosophies in the Hurdzan/Fry design team.
The Heritage at Westmoor golf course
That's all well and good, but what does this mean to the golfer? Wild life, wetlands and native grass--a natural beauty reserve plus a great game of golf. Stretching to over 7,400 yards of play, this environmentally sensitive design offers wide landing areas bordered by native grasses and sits on the cusp of prairie land merging into the Flat Irons that continue on to Boulder. With 250 feet of elevation change and constantly changing wind, the challenge is different at each hole.
Superintendent Lance Johnson has sustained the condition of this nearly new course, as well as keeping up with his dual duties at Westminster's other city course, Legacy Ridge. The fairways are well manicured, the rough is not "overgrown, and the greens are well maintained. According to Head Professional Brian Carlson, "The Heritage has a unique design feature around our greens. Instead of small cut collar, we have big approaches that go all the way around to anywhere from five to 15 feet. This offers some exceptional shots around the greens.
Once you enter the Heritage zone, you'll notice the lack of homes, usually built right up to the edge of the fairway. There is not a "Heritage golf community" and with the environmentally protected areas, there never will be. This course is wide open, and the only encounter you'll have out here is perhaps with the wildlife or the wind. A round at The Heritage is a golf-getaway in the city. However, without the buildings to catch the Colorado wind that blows in gusts from the foothills, some days might call for adjustments.
The Heritage caters to their golf clientele in country-club style, from their friendly greetings to a rustic style clubhouse to the well-stocked pro shop. A short drive north of the clubhouse is the practice green, putting true to the course, and a driving range hinting at all the breathtaking views on the 18 holes awaiting you.
The front nine offers mostly straight shots. The dogleg holes are 5, 6 and 8. The environmental out of bounds, native grass, water and rough come into play at most every hole. A straight, accurate game is the key here.
Hole 1's par 4 shows you a glimpse of the great course to come with wetlands on both sides and a canal 70 yards in front of the green. The first 3-par is at Hole 4 at 230 yards and with a tee box overlooking the green. Play this hole exactly as suggested with no adjustments for elevation; trouble is short of the green.
Unfortunately, the downside to environmentally friendly courses is evident at Hole 5. Prairie dogs have begun to wreak some havoc here, although it doesn't interfere with the game. Proactive measures have been taken erecting fences buried six feet deep, but it is an ongoing process. Prairie dog relocation is occurring to the left, but management is treading carefully. The philosophy of the entire course is that wildlife adds to experience, and patience is needed when relocating these animals' homes.
Carlson is partial to The Heritage's signature 13th hole.
"This is a long 595-yard par 5 with split fairways. I like this design, as it's unique and not seen on many courses. I call this a 'live by the sword; die by the sword' hole. This is the hole if you want to gamble, you can and you might be rewarded. But if you get too greedy, the ten bunkers scattered along the fairway and in front of the green will eat you up. This is a tough hole, but when your last put is done, the view is great." No doubt about that. The view is a panoramic, beginning with the Rocky Mountains in front of you, tipped with snow almost year-round, and to the east and south is a fantastic vista of metro Denver.
The back 9 finishes with a par 5 and a slight right dogleg. A lake all along the right side protects the hole. Lay your second shot up left for your best approach or the lake will suck your ball in the downhill roll.
The diverse eco system on this course turns your game into a historic and natural adventure. Hole 5's course excavation discovered dinosaur bones, and animals native to the area have been sighted: coyotes, foxes and even an occasional deer takes a run by the driving range. Be sure to take a look to the right of the No. 13 tee box and hope for a glimpse of the resident burrowing owls. A pair of bald eagles occupies a tree off of No. 18. The eagles reportedly nest southeast of the course near Standley Lake and return to hunt at The Heritage. New additions to the animal foray this past fall and spring have been three chicks born to great horned owls.
Carlson sums up the many pluses for The Heritage: "Golfers like our course because it offers a challenge and its design is forgiving. With five tees, a golf game here can range from 5,200 to nearly 7,400 yards, catering to all golfers' skill levels. A good golf game is a good golf game, but The Heritage adds a view that is hard to beat, along with a country-club atmosphere available to the public at a reasonable price."
I have to agree. History, magnificent views, ecologically safe areas, native grass, water, wildlife and a challenging game make The Heritage at Westmoor a course not to miss playing.
June 1, 2002