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October 30, 2017
Colorado’s CommonGround Golf Course: A Daily-Fee Facility for the 21st Century
A stone’s throw from downtown Denver sits one of the great public facilities in the country – CommonGround Golf Course. Located in an ethnically diverse neighborhood and offering stunning views of both the city skyline and entire Front Range, CommonGround – as its name suggests – is a haven for all who love golf.
Owned and operated by the Colorado Golf Association (CGA), CommonGround has blazed a unique trail since opening in 2009. Featuring an 18-hole course designed by Tom Doak and menu of innovative programming devoted to growing the game, one would be hard pressed to find a place that matches this powerful one-two punch.
Hailed by many as the most influential golf course architect of his generation, Doak has created world-renowned tracks like Pacific Dunes (Ore.), Cape Kidnappers (New Zealand) and Barnbougle Dunes (Australia). Many of his designs, however, are inaccessible to the golfing masses thanks to factors like geography, high greens fees or locations behind the walls of a private clubs.
CommonGround flips this script. Players from all walks of life can enjoy Doak’s thought-provoking, “minimalist” style for $60 ($45 for CGA members). Significant discounts for juniors and seniors are also available. In fact, Golf Digest recently tabbed it as a course offering “the most bang for your buck.”
Doak’s motivation to take on the CommonGround assignment was noble:
“We were looking for a project that would allow us to give something back to the community and that was accessible to the average golfer. Our motivations were very similar to those of the CGA – to create a course that is fun for all ranges of abilities, from beginners to competitors in the state championships. We designed it to be easily walkable to promote health and exercise, and to be affordable to all, like the great courses of Scotland and Ireland which are the foundation of the game and the inspiration for everything we do.”
With seven sets of tees, adherence to the mantra of “width that matters” and strategic placement of features, CommonGround maximizes enjoyment for raw beginners, scratch players and everyone in between. This is no easy feat and a tip of the cap to Doak’s design genius.
Complementing Doak’s exceptional course work and adding to CommonGround’s distinctive vibe is a slate of programming dedicated to sharing golf’s myriad benefits with people from all walks of life.
The CGA’s flagship youth initiative, with significant support from presenting sponsor BMW-North America, is the Solich Caddie and Leadership Academy. Forty eighth and ninth graders from urban Denver and neighboring Aurora are invited to participate in a two-year caddie-training program, enjoying a unique opportunity to learn about and benefit from the game of golf. Grants provide them with a chance to learn the caddie trade, while simultaneously developing skills they will use for a lifetime both on and off the golf course.
Upon completion, participants are placed into caddie programs at private clubs around Metro Denver.
Caddy services are available for free to CommonGround guests during the summer. Golfers are only invited to offer a small tip at the round’s conclusion.
The program is changing lives. Since its 2012 inception, 12 Solich Caddie and Leadership Academy graduates have received Evans Scholarships to the University of Colorado in Boulder. It’s definitive evidence of golf giving back through successful grassroots outreach.
CommonGround also features a nine-hole kid’s course that was partially funded by a $175,000 USGA grant. With holes ranging from 70 to 150 yards, it’s primarily used as a “golf classroom” for community and wellness programs. CGA partners like Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Denver Boy Scouts and the Special Olympics also use it as a platform to positively influence kids through golf.
Beyond its wonderful junior programming, CommonGround features an array of group and individual instruction options for adults. A 50-station driving range, practice putting and chipping greens, and small grille and pro shop combine to make it a community gathering place.
CommonGround captures the spirit of golf like few other U.S. courses. Undoubtedly delivering on its mission to “create a welcoming and enjoyable environment for golfers of all abilities,” it should serve as a shining example for all public facilities seeking creative and effective approaches to engage the next generation of players.