As the state’s first annual pro tour event in 13 years, the TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes starts this Thursday in Berthoud.
By Jon Rizzi | Course photographs by Jamie Schwaberow/Clarkson Creative
THE CLIMB TO the PGA TOUR will reach new heights when the Korn Ferry Tour’s TPC Colorado Championship at Heron Lakes starts this Thursday in Berthoud. At a mile high and 7,991 yards long, the new TPC Colorado course will present the 156 competitors with exceptional challenges and give Colorado golf fans the privilege of seeing how these talented players handle them.
“Colorado yearns for pro golf,” says David Duval, the former No. 1 player in the world, who’ll be competing on a sponsor’s exemption. “And Korn Ferry Tour golfers are world-class players.”
Known as “The 25,” the top 25 finishers in points standings at the end of the Korn Ferry season automatically advance to the PGA TOUR. Three-quarters of all current PGA TOUR players—including Colorado’s Wyndham Clark and Jim Knous—have come from their ranks, and alumni of the Korn Ferry Tour (which has previously been title-sponsored by Ben Hogan, Nike, Buy.com, Nationwide and Web.com) have won 24 major championships, including one in each of the last nine years.
That legacy also has Colorado connections: 2009 British Open Champion Stewart Cink won the Nike Colorado Classic at Riverdale Dunes in 1996, and Duval, who took home the Claret Jug in 2001, won the inaugural Nike Tour Championship in 1993 and lives in Cherry Hills Village.
Duval will forsake a practice round at Royal Portrush before this year’s Open Championship to compete in his adopted home state. He’ll be joined by Mark Hubbard, the 2007 Colorado Junior Amateur and Match Play champion currently ranked in the Top 10 on the Korn Ferry Tour Points List.
They’ll play in a field with the top six finishers in each of the July 8 qualifiers at Riverdale Dunes and Highland Meadows.
The Coloradans qualifying are former CU player Tom Gempel, 2013 Colorado Open winner Zahkai Brown, Colorado PGA Assistant of the Year Ben Lanting and former University of Denver star James Love.
Only five regular-season events on the schedule remain after this one, and with all but the last few spots in “The 25” seemingly spoken for, the competition in Colorado will be intense.
Here’s what they—and you—can expect.
Developer Jon Turner, who in 2004 opened Highland Meadows Golf Course in Windsor, tabbed the same architect, Colorado-native Art Schaupeter, to design TPC Colorado. He totally nailed it.
His layout unfurls as a single 18-hole loop, its links-like style suggesting a Scottish provenance. Trees appear on only two holes: the 192-yard par-3 8th, which occupies a natural peninsula bordered completely by cottonwoods and bayou-like swampland; and the 450-yard par-4 9th that right-doglegs around the cottonwoods and features both shaped and sod-faced bunkers.
The other 16 fescue-lined holes offer extraordinary variety in terms of hazards, strategy and appearance. Scoring opportunities present themselves from the get-go. On the 635-yard opener, a player whose tee shot finds the speed slot some 300 yards out can try reaching the shallow green in two. Like No. 1 at the Old Course at St. Andrews, though, a moat-like swale fronting the green will snag anything short.
A much larger Biarritz-style green lurks on the 234-yard par-3 2nd, followed by the reachable-at-altitude 393-yard par-4 3rd and the only-reachable-in-two 527-yard par-4 4th. Plan to spend some time watching the 360-yard 6th, a fabulous risk-reward par 4 inspired by the famous bunker-ringed 10th at Riviera.
“Eagle’s Lair,” the name of the 10th, hints at the result you might witness on this 332-yard par 4 with a ginormous green and equally vast pot bunkers.
Similarly deep chasms lie in wait throughout the course, and certainly dictate strategy on the 434-yard par-4 12th. Players going left off the tee to avoid the sand face a blind shot to a wide, shallow green. Positioned on one of the property’s highest points, the putting surface affords a premier panorama of the course and the Front Range, including the Boulder Flatirons, Pikes Peak, Longs Peak and the Indian Peaks.
The hole everyone is talking about is the 762-yard par-5 13th. The longest hole anyone can remember is also one of the hardest. A 104-yard-long “Hell Bunker” (so named in homage to the one on 14 at St. Andrews) menaces the second shot. Some players might elect to go driver-driver to avoid it. Club selection is intriguing and critical.
On the following hole, the 273-yard par-3 14th, you might actually see guys laying up if the wind’s blowing.
From the clubhouse perch, you can view the final four-hole stretch and the first
hole. The 164-yard par-3 16th, dubbed “Center Stage,” is fittingly named. The TPC’s marquee hole drops 60 feet to a multitiered 9,000-square-foot green framed by the backdrop comprising McNeil Reservoir, foothills and Longs Peak. Pin placement can mean the difference between an ace and aqua. From here you can watch players coming up the fairway on the 529-yard par-4 finisher.
• The first ground-up course built in Colorado in nearly a decade, TPC Colorado serves as the centerpiece of the sprawling 800-acre Heron Lakes development that borders three interlocking reservoirs—McNeil, Lonetree and Welch.
• In addition to hundreds of homes, future plans call for a marina club, 30 acres of small-business commercial space and a hotel complex.
• The 10,000-square-foot Phase One construction on the clubhouse has been completed. Phase Two, consisting of an additional 50,000 square feet, will open late next spring. When finished, the clubhouse will boast the requisite upscale amenities for members (locker rooms, spa, fitness center, concierge, meeting rooms, wine cellar, private dining, swimming, etc.) and the public.
Practice (Tues.) or Pro-Am (Weds.): $10
One-Day (Thurs.-Sun.): $15
All-Week (Tues.-Sun.): $35
(Kids 17 and under free with ticketed adult)
For $625 per person, those wanting to entertain friends or clients can access the Summit Club on the 18th green. You get views of the 16th, 17th and 18th holes, while savoring complimentary food and beverage in air-conditioned comfort.
Set Your GPS:
2375 TPC Parkway, Berthoud
(50 miles from Denver; 20 from Fort
Collins); free parking on premises.
8 A.M. Tues. (Practice Rounds)
7 A.M. Weds. (Pro-Am)
6:30 A.M. Thurs.-Sun.
PLAYERS TO WATCH*
*All statistics and standings current as of June 10, 2019. Photographs courtesy of the PGATour.com unless otherwise credited.
Editor’s note: Between the time this story went to press and appeared in print, the PGA TOUR’s developmental tour changed title sponsors from Web.com to Korn Ferry. It did not affect the online version of this story, but the print version of Colorado AvidGolfer’s July issue refers to it as the Web.com Tour. We apologize for any confusion.
This preview appeared in the 2019 July Issue of Colorado AvidGolfer.
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