Springhill GC, Aurora. Dick Phelps, 1972.

This was among the first executive courses I played and it gave me an unrealistic view of what to expect from the genre. Most executive courses I’ve seen since are squeezed between homes or condos and the few par 4s on offer are barely 300 yards. Not so at Springhill, which offers a par of 64—two par 5s, six par 4s, and 10 par 3s—but does so via real golf holes.

The first is a 422 yard par 4 with a bunker pinching the already rather narrow fairway. The second is a par 3 of 207 yards with OB hard down the left side the entire way. This course gets your attention early.

#8 is 188 yards uphill with a bunker protecting the front (Credit: City of Aurora)

The 15th must be among the most demanding holes on any executive course. A 412 yard par 4 on the scorecard, it looks like a double dogleg par 5 as the fairway jogs hard left around two massive cottonwoods and then back to the right. Off the tee, you either must lay back on account of the trees at the corner, or try to drive through or around them (I’d say hit a draw around them but it’s hard to imagine too many players at Springhill deliberately working a draw off the tee). It’s not a good hole per se, but it is memorable.

Ultimately, this isn’t a hidden gem in an architectural sense, but it is for the golf world as a whole. A place where people can learn the game on real full-length holes, without being expected to play a full-length regulation course, totally walkable, with hardly a home in view let alone in play. It’s not a gem you’d tell someone to go visit, but it’s a gem to live and grow up near a place like this, no doubt.


#5 (left) and #4 (right) feature some of the only water on the course (Credit: Visit Aurora)