As Garth Hystad and Dave King Prove, the only thing better than a house on a golf course is a house with one.
Clad in a black cattleman hat, matching chaps and a golf shirt bearing his company’s logo, Garth Hystad masterfully maneuvers his impeccably groomed Quarter Horse, Jack, along the collar of a perfectly rolled golf green. A trio of Belgian Laekenois gambols near a stocked bass-fishing pond, while a group of donkeys brays from a nearby corral that leads to the stables Jack shares with 40 other equines.
The founder and president of Colorado Custom Decks and Mosaic Outdoor Living & Landscapes, Hystad lives on this compound with his wife, Gail, and two children. Their house, one of numerous residential-looking structures on the 35-acre property near Fort Carson, overlooks a landscape that reflects Garth’s all-in approach for every passion he pursues.
The first passion—designing and creating magnificent, one-of-a-kind decks and outdoor living spaces—affords him the wherewithal to go after the others. He has showrooms in Colorado Springs, Denver and Louisville, and his inspiring personality and inspired projects provide the content for Mega Decks, a DIY Network reality show that was just picked up for a second eight-episode season.
Ten years ago, Hystad’s all-consuming passion for golf resulted in transforming a chunk of his acreage into a spectacular, low-maintenance golf retreat featuring artificial turfs with tight-stich gauges specifically designed to react realistically to every golf shot—from a 300 yard drive to a 30-foot pitch to a three-foot left-breaking knee-knocker. Framed by fluffy sand bunkers, a meandering brook and flowering trees, the highly adaptable holes suggest Augusta National’s Amen Corner.
Hystad even transformed the second story of his barn into the kind of practice facility— complete with heated hitting bays, video cameras and computer—you’d find at highend learning centers. He even has a $20,000 MEGSA training machine.
Though the “course” remains beautiful, five years ago Hystad pivoted to a new passion: reining horses. He’d never ridden but within a year was competing in and winning Rocky Mountain Reining Horse Association events. He built a ring in which to practice and work out his horses, the numbers of which quickly grew as he learned more about the art of riding.
“There are no bounds for artists,” he says, which clearly applies to everything he does.
“But I’ve got to come up with some less expensive hobbies. Maybe I’ll take up knitting.”
Sure, but chances are, he’d probably buy a flock of sheep to get the wool.
Mortgage banker Dave King says he does his “best thinking” while atop his John Deere riding mower. As evidence, he points to what look like randomly placed OB stakes around his sizable Parker backyard. Anchored by rebar, those five-foot-high pieces of PVC tubing are the nine “holes” comprising WedgeWorld, a 323- to 369-yard chipping course he conceived and routed with considerable input from his son-in-law, PGA Golf Professional Dillon Joslyn.
To avoid having to cut holes and mow puttable surfaces, the pair decided to use pipes festooned with a purple Crown Royal flag. The idea: Hit the pipe or flag in the fewest number of shots. The par-three “holes” range in length from 19 to 79 yards. They jounce around shrubs, rocks, water and other landscaping features, spilling down to the tight, canted 61-yard no. 1 handicap 7th that runs adjacent to the bridle path at the far edge of the property.
According to the local rules (which appear on the back of the printed scorecard), WedgeWorld players are allowed only one club—“a 56-degree is the club of choice,” Joslyn says—and players get a gimme if their ball lies within a grip length of the pipe, though most players prefer to hear the unmistakable thunk of ball hitting plastic.
That’s right, players. King has hosted numerous tournaments with fellow Pinery members —the most recent of which, the Chipping Course World Championship, took place at King’s annual Fourth of July celebration. “The course correlates almost perfectly to most people’s regular handicaps,” says King, who currently plays to a 9. “The good players are still good and the high handicapper will shoot about the same over par as they usually do. The best part, however, is that it is extremely fun and a round only takes about 30 minutes or so for players of any ability.” To maintain pace of play, six is the maximum score for any hole.
King laments he’s never won one of his tournaments, not even the ones at night, which, he says, are “the best. We use glowballs, wrap the pipes with Christmas lights and wear hats with flashlights.” The only peril, he adds, is it’s harder to see the occational “free drop” taken by his bulldogs, Brutus and Maximus.
Every hole has seen an ace, except the seventh, and numerous balls have gone skipping down the bridle path. Then there’s the time a shot that got caught in a flag. “It spun the flag around and threw the ball back,” he marvels. “It was the ultimate lip-out.”