Two Fine Golf Courses on Colorado’s High Plains

February 16, 2007

Walk through the lobby of Colorado’s Westin Westminster, and you’re more likely to hear phrases like wireless data systems, gigaspeed cablings, and Ethernet ports rather than curving downhill putt, uphill lie, or fried egg. But that will change.

“We don’t market ourselves as a golf resort,” says general manager Bill Dougherty. “But we can certainly offer quality golf to our guests.”

You ain’t just whistlin’ data connectivity needs there, Bill.

Thanks to a public-private partnership between the city of Westminster, Colorado, and Westin hotels, one of the best golf deals in America is available to guests staying at the hotel chain’s new high-tech, 369-room facility located in the Rocky Mountains’ own Silicon Valley midway between Denver and Boulder.

For $35 weekdays ($41 weekends), Westin Westminster guests can play the city-owned, Michael Hurdzan/Dana Fry-designed Heritage at Westmoor, a superb links-style layout that opened in 1999 and hosted the Colorado Senior Open last year. The same fee will secure a tee time at city-owned Legacy Ridge Golf Course, an Arthur Hills design listed among GOLF Magazine’s “Top 10 You Can Play” layouts for 1994 and site of the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 1995.

Designed to attract business travelers visiting the high-tech Denver-Boulder corridor, the Westin Westminster is marketing itself as “the most technologically advanced hotel in the world,” according to developer Tim O’Byrne. In fact, developers exceeded their initial technology budget tenfold in building the $80-million complex, which includes high-speed Internet access in guest rooms and conference facilities.

Opened in April 2000, the hotel is decorated in a High Plains theme, while guest rooms are contemporary in style. The Westin is part of the Westminster Promenade project, which includes a 24-screen cinema complex, an ice rink, entertainment venues, 45 miles of hiking and biking trails, restaurants, two office towers, and a two-acre lake. The two golf courses are located within 10 minutes of the Westin. The hotel will book advance tee times and confirm them four days prior to arrival.

The Heritage, a links-style layout in the foothills of the Rockies, affords dramatic views of 14,000-foot peaks to the west and the Denver skyline to the east. The bentgrass greens are in immaculate shape, as are the 97 bunkers. Landing areas are generous and bordered by environmentally sensitive areas of native grasses. Golfers are not allowed to search for balls within these stands of tall grass, so an extra sleeve is recommended. During construction of the layout’s fifth hole Triceratops bones and a Tyrannosaurus Rex footprint were discovered, and now are on display in the city’s Recreation Center.

The course starts at 5,200 yards from the forward tees and reaches to 7,345 yards from the tips. Despite the mile-high altitude and often lengthy distance from green to tee, many golfers choose to walk. Few houses or office buildings have been built near the course, especially on the back nine, giving walkers the feeling of strolling through the high plains countryside.

The round starts peacefully with a pair of short par fours before an encounter with the number-one handicap hole: the 570-yard, par-five fifth. Three bunkers guard the left side of the fairway on the drive. While long hitters may be tempted to go for the green in two, a second shot to the left side of the fairway leaves an easy approach to the green.

Legacy Ridge, the second course, also makes good use of the natural terrain, although it borders a 700-acre residential community. Environmentally sensitive areas similar to those at The Heritage are off limits to golfers on holes 11 through 13. While parts of the 7,212-yard layout (5,315 yards from the forward tees) have a linksland feel, others play through stands of cottonwood trees and along the Highland Canal.

Following a round of golf at either course (or a round of conference calls), golfers and techies alike can be found at O’Byrne’s, the hotel’s comfortable tavern restaurant, finishing off a Coors or two and watching the sun set over the Rockies.

The Westin Westminster, 10600 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, CO 80020; 303-410-5000.