Eisenhower Blue

Eisenhower GC, Colorado Springs. Blue Course by Robert Trent Jones, 1959.

This is the older of the two courses at the Air Force Academy, and many consider it the best of the military’s courses. It is a wonderful course, big and brawny as befits both RTJ and a military academy, on a broad and sloping piece of property.

The real challenge at this course is on the greens. Because of the way the course sits on a broad slope, everything breaks away from Pike’s Peak and it will drive you absolutely crazy over the first couple rounds here to watch putts seemingly break uphill. Even once you learn not to trust your eyes, it’s still hard to determine the high point—at the Broadmoor you can at least know everything breaks away from the Will Rodgers Memorial, but here there’s no real landmark to look toward.

The shallow green at #3 (Credit: USGA/Fred Vuich)

The first couple holes get you down the hill away from the clubhouse, but the third is a par 3 back uphill to a shallow green benched into a hill with bunkers in front that will demand your attention early.

The next two holes play downhill but fight a side slope from right to left—the fourth is a mid-length par 4 with a small bunker protecting the front left side of the green. The fifth is a longer par 5, possibly reachable downhill and at altitude, that again fights the side hill with bunkers protecting the right side in the layup zone and at the green.

Hole #5 plays downhill with a pronounced side slope (Credit: USGA/Fred Vuich)

The 11th is probably the most memorable hole, a downhill par 5 with a small pond guarding the front of the green. Although it’s 560 yards, between the altitude and the drop from tee to green, the hole is reachable, but you have to murder your drive on a bold line and then be willing to take on the pond.

Looking back from the green on #11 (Credit: USGA/Fred Vuich)

The course moves out into the meadow for several holes after that but these are some of the course’s strongest holes, with doglegs that require shaped drives or precision lines. The 12th doglegs right gently, the 14th is a more severe dogleg to the left, but that’s matched by a hard dogleg right at the 15th. The 13th is not a long par 3 but again the green is shallow. At the 17th the green is bigger but the hole is longer and plays uphill to an angled green with a severe tier running through it. As is typical for an RTJ course, the greens aren’t small but you don’t want to miss them.

And then it’s time to putt.

Colorado 1st Decile [1996]