By Richard Humphreys, Golf Course Architecture Magazine
City Park Golf Course in Denver, Colorado, implemented a soft reopening on September 1st, following a complete redesign by Todd Schoeder of GrassRoots Golf Design (formerly iCon Golf Studio).
The project was initiated to manage stormwater that naturally flows through this area, improve water quality, and reduce flood risks in surrounding neighborhoods after large storms. Schoeder worked with the city and the public to redesign the Tom Bendelow course, while at the same time provide a solution to the stormwater issues while enhancing the golf course.
“The 135-acre golf course is one of the last large open spaces in Denver that offers a natural space to capture and then release floodwaters,” said Schoeder. “The challenge was can you utilize an existing, 1913 historic Tom Bendelow-designed golf course in the heart of an urban environment to address major neighborhood and regional flooding issues? How do you use the course to detain the required stormwater and then release the water within eight hours to keep the course playable?”
Schoeder’s solution was to create a new design that uses 20 acres of the golf course to hold and slow almost 75 million gallons of floodwater during storms. His design includes a natural water treatment channel that enhances course strategy while allowing stormwater to pass through the course without looking like an ‘engineered’ feature.
The new par 70 layout retains the original course character, preserves sweeping vistas, and uses many existing hole corridors. The project also includes a new four-hole First Tee course, a new and expanded driving range, a one-acre practice area, and a new clubhouse and state-of-the-art maintenance facility.
“Even though the course is designed to flood and temporarily store a massive amount of water, you would be hard-pressed to identify where and how the engineering works,” said Schoeder. “The golf design was seamlessly woven into the stormwater management system.
“To respect the original Bendelow ‘sporty’ design, many of the golf course features reflect the same size, character, and location. Eight of the original golf holes remain in the same playing corridor, albeit redesigned with more movement, width, and playing options.”
The new design included expanding and reshaping all 18 greens (they are now 50 percent larger on average), 36 all-new bunkers, and increasing the number and sizes of tees.
“All project goals have been met and, in many cases, exceeded, including meeting all mandatory city technical requirements for golf, and urban drainage requirements for stormwater management,” said Schoeder.
Prior to its soft opening, the course hosted the Denver City Amateur tournament on August 29th and 30th.