Conquer Denver’s Most Difficult Golf Holes
As the three-time home of the US Open and two-time host of the PGA Championship, Cherry Hills Country Club may be the most prestigious Denver golf course. And there’s no question that it also boasts some of the area’s most harrowing holes. But the best golf courses in Denver don’t necessarily require such PGA pedigree, nor do the most difficult holes always find their way to the pro circuit. Below, check out Groupon’s guide to some of the area’s notable (and notably tricky) holes, along with some advice on how to overcome each obstacle.
1. Cherry Hills Country Club: Hole 5
The Problem: This notoriously tricky par 5 was named by Golf.com as one of the 18 toughest holes on the 2013–14 PGA Tour. From the get-go, the tee shot pits golfers against deep bunkers to the left and a creek to the right, demanding a precise shot down a fairway that measures only 26 yards between the hazards.
The Solution: Great straight shots demand a strong understanding of your swing plane. In a proper golf swing, the club shaft should wind up parallel to the ground at five points: twice as you move the club back, twice more as you swing, and once during your follow-through. The third of these five points—when the club is 90 degrees from striking the ball—is absolutely critical above all else. Mastery of this principle should send the ball sailing right down the middle.
2. The Country Club at Castle Pines: Hole 11
The Problem: Castle Pines’s signature 11th hole features a 75-foot drop from tee to green. An elevation change of this magnitude makes the wind a key player in determining the fate of your shot, as the breeze can easily amplify a slight inaccuracy into a serious mistake.
The Solution: Playing the wind is as much a mental game as a physical one. You shouldn’t let it trick you into fighting back or swinging harder. Instead, keep the ball low. Don’t swing too fast. Consider playing the ball an inch farther back.
3. Raccoon Creek Golf Course: Hole 17
The Problem: The course’s namesake creek presents golfers with water hazards on 17 of its 18 holes. Although the course is generally beginner friendly, the Colorado Golf Association named its 17th hole among the more difficult in the state. This par 3 requires a shot over the creek to reach a well-protected green.
The Solution: It may sound simple, but focus on the green, not on the water. Furthermore, don’t let the water trick you into overshooting. Don’t add any additional lift to the ball. Essentially, play as if there were no water.
4. Highlands Ranch Golf Club: Hole 16
The Problem: The 16th hole boasts Highlands Ranch’s trickiest green. Subtle unevenness in the green can easily coax three putts from an unprepared golfer.
The Solution: When faced with an uneven green, it helps to have a wide stance to give yourself some extra stability. It also helps your balance when you ease off your swing by 20 to 30 percent. Lastly, lean into the slope to account for gravity pulling the other direction when you swing.
5. Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course: 7th Hole
The Problem: Red Hawk Ridge is a course characterized by elevation changes. The ups and downs contribute to scenic views but present challenging shots. This is particularly apparent on the 7th hole—a 648-yard uphill climb without any bunkers or shortcuts in sight.
The Solution: Hitting from an uphill lie begins with club selection—you’ll want a longer club to account for the uphill angle. Try to keep your shoulders parallel to the hill. Play the ball a little forward. And although it’s not necessarily intuitive, an uphill shot tends to trick golfers into hitting left, a side effect of releasing upward through the impact. Try angling yourself just a bit right to compensate.
Before joining our editors, Charles Austin was a Daily Show intern. Charles eats Iams® ProActive Health™ Adult Original cat food to maintain his active lifestyle.