As I stated in my recent post about Cherry Hills Country Club, coming down the home stretch of my Top 100 quest I am left with many of the courses where I have struggled to make a contact over the last six years. This is certainly making the end of my journey an interesting challenge. Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock has a reputation as a very exclusive club and was one of the courses that worried me from the very beginning as my list of friends in Colorado is a fairly short one and does not contain any golfers. Over the last few years I had met a few people who knew members at Castle Pines and thought they might be able to help, but nothing ever materialized so I just kept pushing it to the back burner. Now that I am nearing the end, the back burner is now the front burner.
After making a few contacts to see if any of my friends knew people at Castle Pines I got lucky and found a solid lead. A few days later I received an email from a member inviting me to come visit the club. It was the first confirmed game for my Colorado trip and I was pretty excited about it.
Castle Pines is one of the clubs on the list that I knew very little about. From 1986-2006 the PGA Tour made a stop here every year to play The International which was the first PGA Tour event to use a modified Stableford scoring system. If you are not familiar with this scoring system you can click THIS LINK to read a description. It is an interesting way of keeping score that awards players points based on their score for each hole where the winner is the player with the MOST points at the end as opposed to the lowest score.
Unfortunately, our host was not available to play while Fred and I were in Colorado but he very graciously arranged a game for us as his guests. Our scheduled tee time was 10:30am and since we would not be accompanied by our host we didn’t want to show up too early. We arrived at about 10am which left us just enough time to check in with the pro shop, visit the locker room and then head up to the practice tee to warm up and hit a few putts on the practice green. Below is the view from the practice green looking out across the valley. Pretty spectacular.
At the practice area we met our caddie who would be our guide for the day. Most players at Castle Pines use motorized golf carts and the caddie serves as a forecaddie rather than a traditional bag carrying caddie. Fred and I asked our guy if he would be interested in driving the golf cart while we walked the course. To say he was pleased with that arrangement would be a gross understatement akin to saying that children kind of like candy.
When the clock hit 10:30am we made our way to the 1st tee. There were a lot of teeing options and we settled on 6,748 yards which was the “2 Hummingbird” set of tees. We probably could have gone back to 7,095 with the additional yardage that the mountain air provides, but there was just a big mental block for both Fred and me to play a set of tees that were 7,000+ yards. Even under the high altitude circumstances it just seems like too much for us.
Hole 1 – 600 Yards – Par 5
The course starts out from a dramatically elevated tee box with a long par 5 that plays 600 yards from our tees. Luckily, between the thin air and the hole playing downhill that 600 yards is not as bad as it sounds.
A view of the approach into the 1st green.
Hole 2 – 397 Yards – Par 4
Here we have a look at the 2nd hole from the tee box. The hole doglegs to the right and the green is not visible from the tee.
The green is fronted by an enormous bunker. Long is definitely the place to miss here.
Hole 3 – 387 Yards – Par 4
The 3rd hole offers an option from the tee to hit into the left side of the fairway or the right side which are split by a hazard. The left side rewards players with a shorter approach into the green.
A view of the green from about 75 yards out. Front hole locations are much friendlier than the back hole locations which bring the side bunker into play.
Hole 4 – 187 Yards – Par 3
The first one shot hole on the course is a little trickier than it looks from the tee. In front of the green is a waste area and shots that are short will likely end up there. I hit my shot short and thought I had plenty of room, but never found the ball.
Hole 5 – 393 Yards – Par 4
This is a cool par 4 that plays all uphill. The bunkers on the left side are in play from the tee.
Here is a look at the approach shot into the green. It’s a fairly lengthy one with the uphill and the bunkers in front of the green are just waiting to catch shots that come up short.
Hole 6 – 380 Yards – Par 4
I loved this hole as the tee shot just looked good and felt comfortable to me. Players need to choose their line carefully here. A shot aimed too far to the right will land in the right bunker, but players who hit a long ball and are not aggressive enough could end up rolling through the fairway and find themselves in the bunker on the left side of the fairway. Tricky.
Here is the uphill approach into the 6th green.
Hole 7 – 145 Yards – Par 3
The 7th is a fun little one shot hole. It plays downhill and with the mountain air I hit a little three quarter pitching wedge. Note the bunker to the right of the flag. It is actually surrounded by putting surface in front and in the back. A hole location in the back right side of the green has got to be nearly impossible to get close to.
Hole 8 – 507 Yards – Par 5
Here we have a tight little par 5 that plays all uphill. Shots too far to the left will be blocked out by the tree that sits on the left side of the fairway.
Below is a view of the green from about over 150 yards out. I thought that the shot into the green felt pretty tight too.
In keeping with the narrow theme of this hole the green is also very long and narrow. This photo was taken from the hill on the left side of the green.
Hole 9 – 394 Yards – Par 4
With bunkers on the left and a stream running down the right side of the hole players need to be sure hit the fairway with this tee shot.
The green is fairly wide open here and the best spot to miss is on the left side.
Hole 10 – 467 Yards – Par 4
The back nine starts out with another hole that plays downhill and provides some extra yardage. It’s a good thing because at 467 yards this is a pretty serious par 4.
Here is a view of the 10th green. Drives that end up on the right side of the fairway are going to bring the water into play where those playing from the left side of the fairway will be able to take it out of play by playing to the left side of the green.
Hole 11 – 186 Yards – Par 3
Here we have a gorgeous little drop shot par 3. There was GREAT debate on the tee over how much to take the downhill and mountain air into account when selecting a club. I ended up hitting my 160 yard club and probably could have gotten away with my 150 club.
Hole 12 – 370 Yards – Par 4
This hole didn’t really look like a short par 4 on the scorecard, but it played like one. The bunkers on the right side of the hole are in play from the tee.
Below is a look at the approach into the green. After a big drive I only had a little sand wedge shot into this green which is good because hitting a loose shot that goes left is big trouble.
Hole 13 – 394 Yards – Par 4
This hole is a fairly straight forward par 4 with a blind landing zone for the drive.
Here is a view of the shot into the green.
And a look at the putting surface which has some mild undulation to it in the back half.
Hole 14 – 550 Yards – Par 5
Next we have a healthy par 5 that plays just a slight bit downhill for a little extra yardage.
The hole location at the front is considerably less difficult than those at the back of the green with the water hazard that runs along the left side.
Hole 15 – 355 Yards – Par 4
A good drive here will leave a player with a very short shot into the green. The hole bends slightly to the right so a fade off the tee is a pretty good plan here.
I have to point out the nifty little tee receptacles on the tee boxes here.
Below is the view of the approach shot into the green, which by the way was pretty deep and made the hole play a little bit longer when the hole was cut in the back of the green.
Hole 16 – 188 Yards – Par 3
The last one shot hole on the course is a mid-length shot that plays just a tiny bit uphill.
The green was a little funky and we got lucky with a front hole location. When the hole is cut at the back of the green I think the shot would be considerably more difficult.
Hole 17 – 436 Yards – Par 5
The 17th hole proved to be the source of considerable drama during The International PGA Tour golf tournament. The pros played this par 5 from just 533 yards which is nothing for them to reach in two. The result was lots of eagle opportunities late in the round which make for great television. Playing on 436 yards from our tees this hole is easily reachable in two for many players. The hole does play straight uphill, but even that is not enough to stop many players from reaching this green in two.
Here is a look at the approach from about 200 yards out.
Hole 18 – 430 Yards – Par 4
The final hole on the course is stout par 4 that requires two solid shots to reach the green. The flagpole in the distance is an excellent aiming point and anything to the right of it will have a little longer shot into the green.
The approach shot into the green plays just a little bit downhill.
After we wrapped up our game we didn’t want to hang around too long as, again, our host was not with us so we grabbed a quick sandwich in the halfway house as well as one of Castle Pines infamous milkshakes. They are infamous for a reason . . . it was probably the best straight chocolate milkshake I’ve ever tasted. Absolutely delicious. After we finished our lunch we headed back to the front of the clubhouse to wait for our car. While we were there one of the valets suggested that we go up to the top of the clock tower to take in the view, so naturally we did. Below are a couple of photos taken from up there. The first is of the practice range.
The 1st hole
The 9th hole.
And the 18th hole.
I enjoyed Castle Pines and we had a great time playing there. It is not an easy walk and by the end of the round we were pretty worn out . . . and we even ended up riding between some of the greens and tees. The elevation changes throughout the course really make for some glorious views as well as also some interesting golf shots. Jack Nicklaus has long been a proponent of the use of elevated tee shots in golf and he certainly created some dramatic ones here that are fun to play. Once the valet brought our car around we loaded up and pointed ourselves north for the three hour drive into the northeast corner of Colorado . . . next stop Ballyneal Golf Club.