Indian Tree

Indian Tree GC, Arvada. Dick Phelps, 1970.

A pretty typical muni offering for its era and about what you’d expect if you’ve played a lot of Dick Phelps courses.

This was the venue for a tournament I played several times as a teenager that was 36 holes in one day, usually in the hottest part of July, so I’m sensitive that it’s biggest flaw was a clunky routing. The fifth green is tucked in the north corner of the property by the third tee. To get to the sixth hole, you must walk the length of the third hole (a par 3), past the tee for the fourth, and then back another 60 yards or so. It’s close to 300 yards from the fifth green to the sixth tee, which feels really excessive on a muni with no street crossings. Then after the sixth you walk another 150 yards or so past the ninth green and first tee to get to the seventh. This gets real old when you’re walking 36 in late July, I can assure you, but most people in carts probably don’t notice at all.

I never much liked the seventh—a hard dogleg left that turns at about 235 yards off the tee with trees and water guarding the inside of the dogleg. That’s a Dick Phelps special if I ever saw one. Holes like the eighth are a mystery to me, too. It’s a par 3 over water (210 from the tips, 175 or 150 if you move up) but the pond stops a good 25 yards in front of the green. Good players will from time to time hit terrible chunks that will find the water, but that’s a truly rare thing; the water isn’t even a consideration for a good player on the tee. Meanwhile, the lesser player who hits chunks and chili dips all the time is terrified of a hole where water stretches out for 125 yards in front of him, even if it doesn’t threaten the greenside.

The 14th is an interesting hole—a long par 5 playing along the broad side slope that defines the south edge of the property. From the main tee just beyond the 13th green the hole is a gentle dogleg left. But there’s an extra tee at the top of the hill that make the hole play straight and, I think, tougher, because it’s harder to play a straight hole on a side hill than a slight dogleg.

The 15th is the first of a tough set of finishing holes—a long par 4 playing down the big hill to a green by the clubhouse. The 16th then plays right back up the hill. Making that climb on 16 the second time that day was always trying and tired legs made big hooks out onto the busy street a real possibility (fortunately that’s the only hole where a road was a concern).

The 17th is a family favorite. It’s a par 3 that plays along that big hill with a lot of reverse redan potential for the player to hit a shot out to the left that bounces or rolls back down the hill to the green. It was a shot like that, in fact, that led to my dad making a hole in one here (per his description, I wasn’t there)—still the only ace in family history.

Finally the 18th is surely one of the toughest closing holes in the state. Downhill, it plays shorter than its 452 yards but the fairway is narrow and you really need to get it in the right half of the fairway to get a good angle at the green as the hole jigs to the right around big trees and two small ponds that guard the green. Miss the fairway and you’re almost certainly playing this last hole as a three-shot hole.

Colorado 7th Decile [1996]

Credit: Apex PRD