Highlands Ranch

University of Denver GC at Highlands Ranch, Highlands Ranch. Hale Irwin, 1998.

This was the second course built at Highland Ranch, the first regulation course, and has since been taken over by DU. The holes on the east side of the property are uninspired but solid, though having homes built around them probably hasn’t helped any.

But things pick up with the holes on the west side that play down to and around a small creek. The eighth is a solid par 4 with a fairway that bulges to the right. It challenges you to keep your drive to the left, as any drives that drift to the wider right side of the fairway may be blocked out on the second shot by old cottonwoods in the creek bed to the right of the green. Drives in the left side of the fairway have a clear look.

On the opposite side of the creek, the 13th is a mid-length par 3 slightly uphill to an angled hourglass-shaped green with a huge cottonwood tree looming just right and short of the green.

The long par 3 #5 (Credit: Golf Advisor)

But my favorite holes are the down-and-up pair of the fifth and sixth. The fifth is a long par 3 of 249 yards, bunkerless, downhill to a green that just melts out of the fairway, inviting a run up shot. The sixth is the counterpoint, a short par 4 (292 yards) back up the hill with three bunkers guarding the fairway and a fourth fronting the angled but shallow green. Clever mirrors that also contrast and, as ever, a reflection of the way that par is a construct that shouldn’t always apply to just one hole at a time—if you believe in the construct of par at all, of course.

Colorado 3rd Decile [1999]