Perry Park CC, Larkspur. Dick Phelps, 1969.
This private club is tucked into a beautiful spot south of Denver, playing around and through red rock formations. It’s not the greatest golf course, but the scenery is nice enough that you’ll have a good day.
The best holes use the land and the natural features simply. Sadly, there are a few too many typically awkward Phelps holes here—a couple too narrows par 5s in the second and 11th, a couple holes that dogleg uncomfortably early in the fourth and 15th, and then one total disaster of a hole for the finisher.
The first is a simple short par 4 that doglegs left with a fairway that has a slight reverse camber. The hole has no bunkers but pine 70 or so yards short of the green in the right half of the fairway makes the hole. It’s easy enough to carry the tree with a wedge or short iron, if you find the right half of the fairway and you must, but you’d rather not have to do that with your first iron shot of the day. To avoid that you must keep your drive in the left side of the fairway, which requires either very good line control or a draw off the tee. Both the first and 10th greens are framed by a beautiful monolith called Sentinel Rock. Unfortunately, the visual drama of the first sets the drama for the rest of the round more than the quality of the hole’s simply strategy.
There’s a nice stretch of holes later in the front nine playing downhill and along a ridgeline. The fifth is a par 3 to an angled green. The sixth turns right between a trio of fairway bunkers—here again the high left side of the fairway is harder to hold but offers a better angle into the green. The seventh continues along the same ridge but plays straighter and here the right side of the fairway is the better bet and this angle is coming back into the slope of the green and will not be blocked out by trees, which hug the left side of the green.
But nice is about as good as the actual golf gets. The views remains spectacular throughout the course, no doubt, but eventually too many holes like the 15th do begin to wear on the soul of the golfer. It’s a 420-yard par 4 that doglegs hard to the right but the dogleg turns at 230 yards. Tall pines protect homes inside the dogleg and try to discourage you from cutting the corner. You can try to sling a cut around the dogleg but if you fail you’ll be in a fairway bunker with a long, uphill shot left to the green. So, it’s better to just lay up to the corner and play on. That’s fine for a hole here or there, but there’s a bit too much of that sort of thing at Perry Park.
As a member, I imagine I’d tire of it. As a guest, the views and the good parts of the course are more than enough to make for a very pleasant day.
Colorado 5th Decile