Inverness Hotel and Golf Club: Building a Tradition in Denver

By David R. Holland, Contributor

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. - There's a view of the Rocky Mountains in its front yard and an 18-hole championship golf course in its backyard. That's the Inverness Hotel and Golf Club. And yes, President Bill Clinton has slept here.

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In fact, in 1997, Inverness' Tom Babb, the only Director of Golf the club has ever had, zipped the prez around the grounds in a cart, played some golf and gave him a few swing pointers.

Babb arrived in 1973 from prestigious Seminole Golf Club in Florida and set up shop in a modular building at the new hotel and golf course situated in the middle of the Inverness Business Park. Things have really changed since those early days. "Cottonwood Creek runs through the property and at first they thought Cottonwood Country Club would be a fitting name, but Inverness was chosen because it is tied to a long golf tradition."

Soon after Babb arrived and a rookie quarterback named John Elway also showed up asking for some help on his game. The friendship continues to this day.

The tradition is growing. This year former major league pitcher Rick Rhoden won his 23rd event on the celebrity golf circuit, finishing at 5-under-par to win the 1999 Inverness Hotel Celebrity Classic. Next year there's hope for the event to be televised.

Tournament officials estimated that close to 30,000 spectators were in attendance for the tournament, which was the seventh stop on the 13-stop Celebrity Players Tour schedule.

Talk about a multi-functional facility. "Our goal is to put out the best product for the best price for our 350 members, hotel guests and seminar attendees," said Babb, Colorado Section PGA President and Golf Professional of the Year in 1981 and 1987.

The membership deal offers a one-year price, with no initiation fee. Members have priority for tee times each morning up until 10:30 a.m.

"Many of our members are newcomers to the area and are young corporate executives. They know they might be transferred at any time and don't won't to lose a big initial fee," Babb said. "It's an individual membership, not sold to families or husband/wife combinations. And women are just as welcome as men. We figure we have a turnover rate of 19 to 22 percent per year."

What's in store this year? "We may have a few modeling changes like to the No. 2 bunkers, and we have built nine new tees that we will open this fall," Babb said. "I think the biggest challenge for anyone these days is to speed up play and make golf more enjoyable. The new tees are mainly to shorten up the course for women and average players."

Monday is tournament day at the Inverness with two individual tournaments scheduled that day. The course is closed to guests and members on Monday. "We usually have 100 to 144 playing per tournament," Babb said. "And we are usually booked solid Memorial Day through October 15. These are normally charity events and 25 percent of the tournaments also come from hotel clientele here to have seminars or workshops. Many times these folks will come in early on the weekend to play a round on Sunday or go sightseeing in the mountains. Sometimes they will play on Monday and start their meetings on Tuesday.

"This business is growing by leaps and bounds," Babb said. "We've been doing this for nine years and a lot of the business is repeat customers, and also we are getting better known all over the country as a destination resort for corporations who want to connect their meetings with recreation."

The Inverness Golf Course was built in 1974 and designed by Press Maxwell. It's got bentgrass greens, lots of bunkers and water hazards that come into play on 12 holes and it is hilly to flat in contour. It is open 365 days a year and last year boasted play on 269 days of the year. The par-70, 6,913-yarder has a slope rating of 136.

The par threes are most challenging the members agree, especially from the back tees. Three measure more than 200 yards and the 15th is 192 yards. No. 11 is a picturesque 211-yarder, that has a lake in front. The par-three No. 3 is also guarded by water on the right and measures 211. No. 8 doesn't have water, but it is 201 yards uphill and against the prevailing southerly breeze. No. 15 also has water carry.

No. 2 is a par-five, 562-yarder, that requires a layup for the average golfer, in front of the creek short of the green. No. 13, a 418-yard par four, has a water carry from the tee to a dogleg left fairway and then another carry over water just in front of the green, which is guarded on the left by a huge cottonwood tree.

"I really like that this course is a challenge for all levels, but it's fair," said Jim Recht of Englewood. "It is well-maintained and is a good value for the members."

In 1997, Inverness Golf Course received both the prestigious "Green of Distinction" award, in recognition for outstanding service and staff, and the "Golden Links" award, as one of the top 100 resort courses in the country.

Golf fees from May 1 to October 31 are $90 weekdays and $100 on weekends and holidays. Twilight fee (3 p.m.) is $65 weekdays and $75 on the weekends. November 1 to April 30 fees are $65.

The Inverness Golf Getaway Package costs just $200 a night for two and includes two rounds of golf with cart, deluxe hotel accommodations including health club and pool privileges.

The Inverness Hotel and Golf Club offers 302 deluxe guest rooms. They have 26 suites that overlook either the golf course or the mountains. They have the Club Floor available where you can enjoy complimentary cocktails, continental breakfast, or relax in the private lounge. Amenities include two restaurants, a pub, a golf grille, swimming pool, tennis courts, health club, and walking or jogging trails. The Inverness Hotel has 60,000 square feet of meeting space for conference, seminars or workshops. There is a high-tech theater to break-out rooms, executive boardrooms, ballrooms and outdoor terraces. State-of-the-art video production and high-tech computer graphics capabilities are on site and a personal conference services managers is on call 24 hours a day.

Door-to-door shuttle service is available from Denver International Airport. The Inverness Hotel and Golf Club operates a fleet of vans from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. for direct transportation to and from DIA. Contact the Inverness Hotel & Golf Club's Transportation department (303) 397-6404.

How to get there: At Interstate I- 25 and Dry Creek Road, the Inverness is just 30 minutes from downtown Denver and Denver International Airport. Or if you are coming from the south, take County Line Road from I-25 and go right one block.

Inverness Hotel & Golf Club
200 Inverness Drive West
Englewood, CO 80112
3 sets of tees
Pro Shop Opens at 7 a.m.
Pro Shop Phone: 303-799-5800
Golf Tee Time Reservations: 303-397-7878
Hotel Reservations: 800-397-6356
Golf Fax: 303-799-5874

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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