Opinions might differ on which team will bring home the coveted Solheim Cup, but there is no disagreement about the venue chosen as the battleground.
The Colorado Golf Club’s championship course, a private, 7,604-yard gantlet of inviting fairways and tricky greens, sits on a rolling, elevated plain on Parker’s east side. Just southeast of South Parker and Stroh roads, it greets players with striking views of the Rocky Mountains and occasional visits from resident deer.
One month out from the Solheim Cup, a trans-Atlantic brawl between the top 12 women’s golfers from the U.S. and the top 12 from Europe, the course is in pristine condition. Many of the players — those already on the team and some on the cusp — have squeezed in a few practice rounds to get a lay of the land. They now realize the formidable task of finishing strong in the match-play competition.
“They couldn’t have picked a better course as far as the volatility in the last four holes with two par fives that are potentially reachable and a par three,” said Dottie Pepper, Ladies Professional Golf Association legend and assistant captain of the U.S. team, during a visit to Parker in February. “Literally, anything can happen.”
Pepper should know. She was among the NBC Sports commentators covering the 2010 Senior PGA Championship, which came down to the wire and had Tom Lehman hoisting the trophy at the end of the weekend.
During a visit to the Colorado Golf Club July 1-2, European team captain Liselotte Neumann said the course is perfect for match play. She commented on the challenging final stretch and is hopeful that, with the right conditions, some late par fives will be reachable in two shots.
When asked how she might prepare the team for a potential high-pressure finish, Neumann said if some of the women are unable to play a full 18, she will instruct them to concentrate on the back nine “so they can feel like they know the last couple of holes better than some of the others.”
To which European team assistant captain Annika Sorenstam interjected, to laughter: “How about getting the players to show up early so they don’t have to go down to the last few holes?”
Neumann said the entire course is “generous off the tees,” but the undulating greens vary greatly in size. She said a handful of players were staying in Parker a few extra days to get a feel for how the elevation might affect club distances, how the greens are rolling and what strategic bounces might come into play. Experience at the host venue will help the team members build confidence in their ability to play well there, she said.
The U.S. team will arrive early and practice on Aug. 12, the Monday of the tournament week, Pepper said.
“Whatever groundwork hasn’t been finished will be ready by then,” she said.
As always, the tournament is likely to come down to one or two shots, and Solheim Cup Tournament director Becky Newell said she expects that the final holes will make for a good finish. Because of the nature of the tournament, every shot counts and being prepared is a must.
“In match play, anything can happen. It’s a putt here and a shot here, it’s a match turning around, it’s just kind of a sequence,” Sorenstam said.
The European team has never won on U.S. soil, but the players are coming in with loads of confidence, having secured a convincing victory at the 2011 Solheim Cup in Ireland. Sorenstam says Team Europe has its “hands on the trophy as of now” and isn’t ready to let it go.
Colorado Golf Club Course Facts
• Opened in 2007
• Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore
• Length: 7,604 yards
• Hosted the 71st Senior PGA Championship in 2010
• Named the top new private course of the year in 2007 by Golf magazine
Tickets for the Solheim Cup women’s golf tournament at the Colorado Golf Club are selling out fast.
Fans are encouraged to purchase their passes in July, before prices go up the week of the match-play event Aug. 13-18. Practice-day grounds passes will go up from $37 to $45 per day and match-day grounds passes from $67 to $75 per day, both for walk-ups at the Colorado Golf Club gate and online. Weekly passes increase from $127 to $140 on Aug. 12, and fans will only be able to purchase them online the week of the event. Children 17 and younger get in free with a paid adult admission. The cash-only parking fee is $5 per day.
For more information, or to order tickets, go to www.SolheimCupUSA.com.