April Notebook: Ready For Colorado's First 8,000-Yard Course?

By David R. Holland, Contributor

FALCON, CO -- Last summer, Rick Phelps, son of Colorado Hall of Fame golf course designer Dick Phelps, brought you Devil's Thumb Golf Club in Delta, a desert-like course on the Western Slope that has received much praise.

This year he's hard at work on an 8,000-yard prairie-links style course just below the Black Forest, near Falcon, northeast of Colorado Springs. The course at Meridian Ranch is yet to be named but is scheduled for summer 2003 opening.

"The property is wide open with sandy soil and no wetlands but it has two sand arroyos that will come into play," said Rick, who is starting his 13th year in the business. "I think this course will have a wind-blown look with bunkers like Murphy Creek (at right) that have ragged edges and tall grass surrounding them. The tall grass here is not as thick as in Aurora, so I don't see it being as hard to play out of."

"This will be the first 8,000-yard course in Colorado," he continued. "But it will have six sets of tees and the location is at 7,000 feet so I think with the 10- to 15-percent additional carry, it will play like a 7,200-yard course," Phelps said.

Rick's dad Dick, a 40-year veteran in the business, is spending much of his time in Scottsdale, AZ and the duo are about to change the name of their company from Richard M. Phelps, LTD to Phelps Golf Course Design.

Other current projects include Harbor Lakes Golf Club on Lake Granbury, southwest of Fort Worth, TX. The team has also been working on three projects in Sheridan, Billings and Evanston, WY.

Sienna Club at Rose Ranch

The Sienna Club at Rose Ranch, a Troon Golf managed-property and reconstruction of the old nine-hole Westbank Golf Course, hopes to open nine holes in September in Glenwood Springs.

The Arthur Hills-designed new 18 is comprised of three diverse sections. Seven holes will navigate through the existing Westbank community and then traverse into the second section of the course in the new Rose Ranch development. The third section will be comprised of four challenging holes that will run along the ridgeline west of County Road 109.

"These holes will follow the natural contour of the ridge and provide spectacular views overlooking the Roaring Fork River, Mt. Sopris and Rose Ranch," said Hills.

The par 72 course comes alive with sienna-colored cliffs encircling the 18 holes and the Roaring Fork River, "blending naturally into the riparian and mountain environment," says Hills.

"No expense has been spared to create a world-class golf experience," says Phil Wycoff of Troon Golf, the golf course management company. "Everything from the complete range and practice facility to the irrigation system is top-of-the-line," says Wycoff. "The quality of the course and the facilities will rival anything in the Vail or Roaring Fork Valleys," he continued. Troon Golf is the leader in upscale golf course management.

The Club at Crested Butte

The Club at Crested Butte, designed by Robert Trent Jones II, opens this summer after a million-dollar makeover.

This course is nestled amongst the spectacular mountain peaks of Crested Butte. The front nine features the traditional style, while the back nine features the Scottish links-style. Overall, water hazards come into play on 14 holes. The makeover includes rebuilding cart paths, replacing bunker sand and renovating the locker rooms.

"We took what has always been a beautiful course with very good basic design and brought the quality of play and the entire golf experience up to where it should be," said Rick Divine, who owns the Club and surrounding real estate.

Divine entered into an alliance with golf development heavyweight Cordillera out of the Vail Valley to accomplish all of the renovations. "We had the raw materials to create something really special here, and they have the expertise to make it happen," Devine said.

The makeover also includes improved drainage on many holes, all new mowing equipment, redesign of the practice area and new restrooms. The once dated clubhouse is getting a fresh look inside and out. The Club continues to offer plenty of outside play throughout the golf season.

Dye Designs: King's Point, Crystal Valley Ranch

Dye Designs of Denver has announced the design of two new high-end golf courses --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. Both will begin construction this fall.

"One of the many dramatic features of the Crystal Valley Ranch property is the old, mined-butte," said O'Brien McGarey of Dye Designs. "It will have unobstructed views of Pike's Peak to the south all the way to Long's Peak. Other golf holes will play along the washed out draws created by the great Plum Creek flood in 1965."

"King's Point will have views of the entire front range," he said. "It is the centerpiece of a real estate development in Aurora. We are hoping it will become the home course of the University of Denver golf team. That will be determined later, however."

LPGA Futures Tour Hoping For Better Weather

The Futures Tour decided last year's snow tournament was a little too much real Colorado weather. This year's event has been pushed back a week later, beginning on May 9 with a pro-am at Legacy Ridge in Westminster.

This year's purse is $60,000 for the May 10-12 tournament, a 54-hole event. The St. Joseph Hospital Foundation serves as the charity for the Denver Women's Futures Classic. Some of the funds raised by the tournament will support the detection and treatment of breast cancer for low-income or uninsured women. The Denver stop is the sixth on the Futures Tour's 20-event schedule and the only one in Colorado.

The Futures Tour includes 300 members from 24 countries on six continents. Some of the 180 former Future's Tour players now on the LPGA Tour, include Laura Davies, Karrie Webb, Meg Mallon, Rosie Jones, Dottie Pepper, Kelli Kuehne and Jill McGill, a Denver native. Former Futures Tour players have combined to win 237 LPGA tournaments and 26 major championships.

Log on to for ticket information for the Denver Women's Futures Classic.

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Contributor

David R. Holland is an award-winning former sportswriter for The Dallas Morning News, football magazine publisher, and author of The Colorado Golf Bible. Before launching a career as a travel/golf writer, he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force reserve, serving during the Vietnam and Desert Storm eras. Follow Dave on Twitter @David_R_Holland.

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