TPC Colorado shines under a national spotlight

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

It was no small task. Yet it was executed with few, if any, hiccups.

The course was immaculate; the weather ideal. The staff was helpful, the volunteers wonderful. And the golf – wow, the golf – was incredible.

Yours truly, who is no stranger to an afternoon on the links, attended and covered his first professional tournament and remarked that the pros are playing a different sport.

After four days and 72 holes played, it was 28-year-old Argentinian Nelson Ledesma hoisting the gorgeous trophy and even more gorgeous $108,000 check. Not to sound sappy, but everyone who was at TPC Colorado last week walked away as winners.

The first of what figures to be many professional tournaments at the TPC Colorado at Heron Lakes golf course in Berthoud went off swimmingly.

The course, as expected, was in ideal condition for a professional event. The grounds-crew staff deserve a pat on the back, as the course, despite only being open for play for a little more than a year, was mature and meticulously manicured. The greens played fast, but not too fast, and fair. The stacked-sod pot bunkers resembled their clones on the other side of the Atlantic. The fairways shaped ideally and the rough was deep and thick enough to present a challenge.

The pros knew, even on the par-5s that measured 580, 624, 624 and 773 yards, accuracy was required on a track that tested every facet of their games. Even as someone who knows the game well and plays it regularly, I was somewhat surprised to see the number of fairway woods and even a few long irons come out of the bags on the first tee, which was listed at 624 yards, albeit slightly downhill.

While no one except for the man upstairs can take credit for it, the weather was perfect. Yes, it was hot, some would say sweltering, with afternoon highs hitting the mid-90s, but it’s mid-July in Colorado, folks. A brief afternoon thunderstorm swept through the area on Sunday, causing a short lightning delay in the final round, but the winds were minimal and the sunshine was plentiful.  

Spectators, over 20,000 of them in the four days, were consistently afforded unobstructed views from wherever on the course they chose to watch the drives, putts, chips, and flops of the pros. When the “quiet please” signs came up, you could hear a pin drop. Ample opportunities to get one’s favorite frosty beverage or salty snack were available, served by a professional and courteous cadre of event staff.

For the fans who didn’t want to, or couldn’t, walk the extensive length of the layout, there was no shortage of action right near the gates. In about a football-field-sized area adjacent to the clubhouse, one could see the goings on at one tee, 15 green, all of 16, 17 tee and 18 green. A less than half-mile walk down the cart path between holes one and 15 and fans could see the happenings on two par-threes, two and 14, as well as watch golfers attempt to clear the water on the par-four third, tee off on 15 and putt on one.

If you wanted to get out of a sun for a minute, and were not a TPC Colorado member who could enjoy the amenities of the air-conditioned clubhouse, there were multiple covered and cooled eateries and drinkaries to get an ice water, a cold beer, or cocktail and do so without missing out on watching the pros show us amateurs how golf is meant to be played.

Any quibbles? Maybe it would have been nicer to see more of a presence from Berthoud’s local restaurants and breweries. That said, sponsorship packages and tent space came at a hefty price.

Yet, all in all things went better than even the most optimistic person could have expected. And to have Ledesma sink a long birdie putt on the final hole in the final round of the first professional tournament our state has held since 2014 was the cherry on top.

A few years back, the PGA Tour used the marketing slogan “these guys are good.” That applied this week to the Korn Ferry Tour, TPC Colorado and everyone involved with the tournament. From developer John Turner and Tournament Director Drew Blass to the high school kids who, each and every day, greeted me with a “good morning, sir” and directed me to my parking space with a smile on their face.

July 2020. I. Can’t. Wait.

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