From Golf Digest Architecture Editor emeritus Ron Whitten:
I walked TPC Colorado with its architect, Art Schaupeter, during a Korn Ferry Tour event in 2019. The course is located north of Denver, south of Boulder, on highlands where the Great Plains intersects the Rocky Mountains. It's a layout serving a residential development called Heron Lakes and stretches along the east side of Lonetree Reservoir.
Art explained to me that back in 2004, he'd done Highland Meadows Golf Club in nearby Windsor, Colo. for developer John Turner, who then hired him to design this course. But the project got put on hold until 2015. Art had just dusted off his 10-year-old blueprints and started staking the course when Turner informed him that he'd contracted with the PGA Tour to license the course as part of the TPC network.
Schaupeter, a 1990 University of Colorado grad who worked for architect Keith Foster for eight years before forming his own design company in St. Louis, was pumped. This would be the first TPC course built in over a decade, and the challenge would be to make it playable for homeowners yet difficult for pros.
This tournament would not enlighten us on how difficult the course might be, because the PGA Tour chose to play the course considerably shorter than the 7,991 yards Schaupeter had provided as championship tees. (If that sounds like a ridiculous length, remember this is mile-high Colorado, where the air is thinner and the ball goes farther.)
We got to the par-5 13th, and Art explained how he made it measure 773 yards in order to provide a true three-shot par 5, something absent in championship golf today. To make pros dial in on the second shot, Art created an enormous Hell Bunker, a huge complex of sculptured bunkers with some edges of stacked sod, right in line with a tour pro's second shot. But Korn Ferry players weren't playing the hole from the back tees. They were playing it from the members' tee, 590 yards that played probably 530 yards. Tour players' drives were nearly reaching Hell Bunker from that tee, and their second shots were routinely on or around the green. So much for bringing back the true three-shot par 5.
Art was pleased that his par-4 18th hole was playing at its maximum length of 534 yards, uphill all the way, and we did see some players struggle to reach the wide, shallow green in regulation. But Schaupeter was disappointed that the tour had removed the joint fairway that had linked the 18th with the parallel par-4 17th. Tour officials felt such a wide fairway would take the fairway bunker to the right of 18 out of play, so they turned the joint neck of fairway into rough. So much for architectural innovation.
My favorite holes at TPC Colorado are its par 3s. The second features a diagonal Biarritz green with water in front, on the left and around the back and back right. While a Biarritz green on a near-island might seem like overkill, I liked it, especially because Art made the trench wide enough to accommodate pin positions.
100 Greatest Public: Ranked 89th, 2021-'22.
Best in State: Ranked 13th, 2021-'22.