Legacy Ridge Golf Course Worth an Early Wake-Up Call

By Nathan Jansch, Contributor

Westminster, CO. - After waking up at 4:00 a.m., heading out to the golf course was actually one of the last things that I cared to do. The soft feel of my pillow was the only thing on my mind and my frantic scramble to Legacy Ridge golf course grated on my nerves as I battled traffic on my to the course.

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Yes, I know. I should be crucified for being so ungrateful about making my way out to a day of golf, when so many others were forced to resign themselves to the normal hum-drums of life. Fortunately enough, though, the atmosphere of Legacy Ridge instantly brushed all those concerns away and placed me in into another realm, one that let me hit my best round in years.

This up-scale course, which was developed in an aggressive effort by the city of Westminster and opened in 1995, offers a surprisingly wonderful experience for a public city course. A natural wetland preserve has been incorporated into a number of the holes, creating a scenic round that treats the eyes and ears, but plays havoc with your golf senses.

Eleven and 13 are my favorite holes for this very reason. Their placement amongst the trees and cattails of the natural preserve fills the senses, while your golf game is severely tested. Eleven features a long tee shot across a 25-yard ravine onto a sprawling, slight dog-leg right, fairway.

With a well-struck drive from the tee, the green is almost reachable with a driving iron or strong fairway wood on this par 5. The approach is difficult, however, with wetlands prevailing down along the right side of the fairway and a few well placed grass bunkers on the left. With swallows and robins chirping behind you, chipping to the green also becomes problematic with a series of deep bunkers guarding the front and water lying behind on the right.

Thirteen is very similar, but much more difficult. This par four requires a perfect tee shot in order to have any hope for par. Starting from a slightly elevated tee box, you drive onto a severely right-to-left sloped fairway, with wetlands swallowing any errant shots to the left, and two significant bunkers presenting a threat on the right.

The green is long and narrow, with trees surrounding it and only a small area to work with. On the day that I visited, the hole was placed in the front left, making it obscured by shrubbery and impossible to go for the pin. Combined with the hard, sandy greens, it was only through dumb luck that I was able to gain a carom off the frog hair and putt out with a double bogey.

In walking from the clubhouse to the first tee the first thing that strikes you is the babbling waterfall and rippling lake that lines the 9th green and the porch restaurant of the club house. This sight is accentuated by the panoramic view of northern Denver and Mt. Evans from the elevated first tee.

At present, this combination of sights is somewhat blemished by the considerable home construction that is taking place along the first five holes. Although this problem will diminish in coming years, as the lavish $500,000 - $1.5 million homes are completed and the string of disruptions is ended.

However, the back nine will also experience some of this home construction in the coming years as real estate developers continue to expand the up-scale community that originated in 1995.

Unfortunately, the course is marred by poor green conditions. All around, they proved to be hard, sandy, and highly inconsistent. Some of these problems can be explained away by the difficult spring weather that has presented some problems throughout this year.

The short first tier of ruff and wide open holes allow for an occasional miscue. It's not until the par 5, 495 yard, 3rd that the deep second tier of ruff comes into play, along the right side of the fairway. With westerly winds regularly blowing strong from left to right, the 5-6" scrub grass becomes a considerable factor, especially for the fade player.

For the long of the long, the hole is reachable in two, but a tight green, fronted with two massive sand traps and a number of grass bunkers, makes for a small target when hitting a fairway wood. The wind also poses a significant problem in this endeavor, but on an occasional calm summer Colorado morning it might be possible, but certainly not by me.

The front nine meanders quite some distance east of the clubhouse, before it makes its way back to the exquisite 9th green. Wetland areas highlight 5 and 6, while a short par 3, 8th brings you back to the clubhouse. Holes 6 and 7 are hazardous, especially for a player that's new to the course. Both have obscured greens, making it impossible to accurately aim one's tee shot. The signage on the course and score card do little to aide you, as well. Result: A perfectly straight 300 yard drive goes for naught and you end up shooting +3 on a 350 yard hole.

A similar problem exists on the 9th, with the distance and orientation of the lake on the upper right being largely unknown until after the ball is shot. The back nine is mostly more of the same, with large, well manicured fairways, easy rough and unpredictable, sandy greens. Sadly, the par 4 10th and par 3 12th are nothing really of note.

Fourteen is a fun hole to play, provided that you don't accidentally grab the wrong club for your approach, like I did. After nearly out-driving the fairway on this expansive par 4, I was unfortunate enough to grab my pitching wedge instead of my intended 7 iron. The resulting shot was a well struck chip that landed 50 yards short of the green and drove my score up to another unneeded double bogey.

If you're smart, though, and pull the right clubs from your bag you, this downhill, 430 yard, par 4 is an easy and relaxing hole which should allow for a good opportunity for birdie. No trees impede the way and the short ruff serves little hazard in your shots to the green.

Fifteen through seventeen leave a lot to be desired, however. These holes, coming home, offer some further views of the mountains and the Denver front range, but other than that aren't at all impressive. Fifteen heads back up hill. Sixteen is a short par 3. And 17 is a moderate length par 4. All have a few scattered bunkers surrounding the greens and grassy knolls lining the fairways. There are plans to add a number of trees to these holes in the future, along with the construction of a number of homes. However, at present, they are of little note.

Making your way back to the clubhouse up the 18th is also a little disappointing, if not purely frustrating. This uphill 560 yard, par 5 is a little too long. Combine this with the regular late afternoon fatigue that much of us experience as we make our way to the 19th green, and a regular wind blowing in your face, 18 is less enjoyable than it could be.

A fairway bunker on the left side of the landing area makes the tee shot interesting, but it offers too little to save this extraordinary long hole, when one's thoughts are focused only on the comforting confines of the lake rimmed balcony of the clubhouse.

All-in-all, the course does a wonderful job of bringing into play the natural wetlands of the area. However, its overall distance and expansiveness detract from the course to an extent. Further home construction and course development will help many of the holes on the back nine that are presently lacking.

For a public course, in the heart of the city and accessible to all, one ought not to complain, though. We should give compliments to the city of Westminster and Arthur Hills Architecture for developing an up-scale course which can compete with the likes of Inverness as the site of the Colorado Open.

Legacy Ridge Golf Course
10801 Legacy Ridge Parkway
Westminster, CO 80030
Phone: 303-438-8997
Fax: 303-469-9880

Course Ratings (Mens Blue Tees)
Distance: 6735
Stroke: 71.7
Slope: 127

Non-resident Course Fees:
Mon. - Thurs. $19 / $32
Fri. - Sun. $21 / $38

Nathan Jansch, Contributor

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