Two of the oldest golf courses west of the Mississippi
Guest post courtesy of Craig Lemley, coloradogolfblog.com
America in 1895: Prohibition is in its infancy, the first professional football game is played, the venerable “America the Beautiful” is published for the first time, and golf makes its debut in Colorado with the oldest golf course in operation west of the Mississippi.
Overland Country Club (featured above), the original Denver Country Club (now known as Overland Park Golf Club), began as a horse racing, sporting and nine-hole golf retreat for the area’s wealthy in 1895. Now a Denver Golf municipal property, the oldest operating course west of the Mississippi offers a unique Colorado golf experience. Located close to downtown Denver, the property is home to an 18-hole William H. Tucker design, water and traditional driving ranges, and a 36-hole miniature course named Aqua Golf bordering Overland Lake.
Big, beautiful, menacing trees and narrow fairways will cause you the most trouble on this par-72 track, accuracy from the tee being paramount. But Overland’s predominantly parallel fairway layout makes scrambling a little easier. Enjoy the downtown Denver skyline throughout your round, and beautiful autumn hues as the leaves change color each fall on Colorado’s oldest course.
A mere three years younger than its northern counterpart — and a short commute from Overland — Patty Jewett Golf Course in Colorado Springs holds the title of third oldest golf course operating west of the Mississippi, and second oldest in the state. The course has grown 18-holes larger since debuting as a nine-hole layout in 1898, and the Willie Campbell design is now played as a par-72 18-hole or par-36 nine-hole. Also a municipal property, minutes away from downtown, Patty’s rich history is apparent the moment you enter the gate. A long driveway under a canopy of 100-plus-year-old trees leads to the impressive clubhouse, seeping with history itself and home to one of the best patios in the city.
Each of Patty’s courses has its own personality, challenging enough for average golfers but ripe with scoring opportunities, in another wooded, country club-like layout. The famous Pikes Peak, “America’s Mountain,” dominates your view to the west, unobstructed by any urban skyline and often framed perfectly from any western facing fairway. The setting makes a twilight round at Patty one of the best in the area.
Aside from their history, both Overland Park and Patty Jewett showcase the quality of Colorado municipal properties. Country club-like conditions peak in the late spring and summer months and carry into the region’s famously colorful fall, when trees show a range of reds, oranges and yellows. Winter golf in Colorado is an experience all its own, and both Overland and Patty are open year-round.
Courses like Overland Park and Patty Jewett have witnessed the game of golf change through generations of players, and will continue to for many more to come. Visiting one of the country’s oldest courses isn’t something an average golfer gets to do very often, let alone playing two easily over a weekend. Playing at Patty Jewett and Overland Park is an act of historic preservation that any golfer won’t soon forget.