Murphy Creek: Nostalgia Meets High Plains In New Prairie-Links Course

By David R. Holland, Senior Writer

Bring your "A" game.

If you go

Just opened on July 29, 2000, The Homestead at Murphy Creek is a high-plains test. It will also reward you with one of the most enjoyable, affordable rounds of golf you will find in a brand-new golf course today.

"I've played golf all over the country," said Arizona-based golf architect Ken Kavanaugh, "and I haven't seen anything like this anywhere. It's a first for Colorado and I think you will see something different on every single hole. I took a little bit of this and a little bit of that to complete this design."

First of all, bring your booming tee shots if you plan to play from the tips, because Murphy Creek stretches out at a robust 7,456 yards from the big boys' tees.

Secondly, bring lots of golf balls, because this is a golf course that has thick, thick Canadian fescue, wiry five-inch rough -- the stuff even surrounds the bunkers -- and some of these bunkers are right in the middle of the wide fairways.

Leslie Core, Murphy Creek's head pro, says this rough creates the "signature shot" of the golf course. Open the club face, take a more lofted club, aim right of your target and blast with a tight grip. The grass is going to shut down the club face. Just take a result in the fairway and unless you are Mr. Woods, be happy with being short of the green.

It's a complete golf experience. Not only did Kavanaugh create a rugged test of golf in a prairie-links style, complete with wide fairways, more than 80 deep bunkers, a huge sand waste expanse on the par-3, 205-yard No. 5, lakes and a waterfall, but a historical theme was also added to this experience.

The clubhouse and other buildings are done in a 1920s farmhouse decor -- white with steep-pitched green roofs. The cart barn is a replica of a real barn and the range-ball machine is located in a silo. The former alfalfa fields are littered with old, rusting farm equipment, a horse-drawn wagon and even an original barn.

You might even feel like an eastern plains farm hand as you aim your golf cart down unpaved, dusty roads with only faded barn-wood signs pointing the way to the next hole and rusty signs signaling tee box numbers. Every so often you'll pass a cross roads with a sign claiming: "Royal Melborne, 5,767 miles". You will also rake the traps with all-wooden implements and see that the metal flag sticks are wrapped in real wood.

Since the City of Aurora has an "Art in Public Places Program", art is required in all new city construction projects. Nancy Golden has already created two life-sized bronze sculptures of golf legends Babe Zaharias and Old Tom Morris.

In the next few years the sculptures of master golf architect Donald Ross will be added along with Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Eddie Lowery, who caddied for Francis Ouimet in the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club at Brookline, MA.

"It's the stunning gem of the front range," said Eric Lahman, an intern with the Colorado Golf Association. "It's almost like playing a Nicklaus course with wide fairways and then you have tough bunkers like a Dye course. You can stray a tee shot and still be OK, but the second shot requires demanding iron play. Every hole has its own character."

On the par-4 monster, 506 yards from the back, the scratch player faces a forced carry of 260 yards over a no-recovery gully. It would be interesting to sit and watch how many "A" players can actually make this shot.

No. 14, a par-4, 421-yarder, begins a journey home that has significant water on four of the last six holes. Water is all down the left side and the green angles left at the end, making the approach with the pin far left a test of your nerve. Smart play? Take the middle of the green.

The big dogleg right No. 15 is a 600-yard par-5 beauty with a huge beach bunker right that funnels into the water.

The par-3 No. 17 has a stair-stepping waterfall all down the right side and water passes in front of the tees. It's another long one, 248 from the back, and the bail-out area to the left of the green, just below a bunker, doesn't give you an easy second shot. It's uphill and lots of shots will go over the firm green when the pin is right.

Murphy Creek is one of the best deals you will find in a new course and is part of one of the largest golf systems in the state. Aurora now has seven golf courses, including Saddle Rock, Centre Hills, Aurora Hills, Fitzsimons, Meadow Hills and Springhill.

The Homestead at Murphy Creek
1700 S. Old Tom Morris Road
Aurora, CO 80018

Telephone: 303-361-7300.

Internet Address: http://www.golfaurora.com.

Green Fees: Monday to Thursday, Aurora resident pay $24. Non-residents $28. Friday to Sunday, locals pay $32. Non-residents $32.

Directions: From E-470 near Denver International Airport go east at the Jewell Exit past Gun Club Road. You will see the entrance on your left on Old Tom Morris Road.

Scorecard

Conditions: A-
Layout: A-
Service: A
Practice Fac.: A
Clubhouse/Pro Shop: A
Pace of Play: A
Value: A+
Overall Rating: A

David R. HollandDavid R. Holland, Senior Writer

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 at @David_R_Holland.


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