This week, the world's best over-50s golfers will descend upon The Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado for the 39th US Senior Open. One of the most prestigious resorts in the United States, it celebrates it centenary this year. David J. Whyte visited it recently. Here's how he got on...
I’d just finished playing some cracking Colorado ‘Rocky Mountain’ courses. Now, it was time to get back to work! That meant checking into The Broadmoor, one of the most luxurious, highly-respected hotels on the planet. But before I got there, I just had to pay a visit to ‘The Garden of the Gods’.
Only in America can you find an attraction with such an ostentatious name. Is this where Fred Flintstone meets up with Walt Disney? Maybe I’d run into Charlton Heston sitting on his heavenly throne.
Actually, in spite of its name, it’s a pretty amazing place. Located just outside the city of Colorado Springs, The Garden of the Gods Park is a national landmark made up of towering sandstone and limestone rock formations that reminded me of the back of a Stegosaurus. There have, in fact, been many fossilised dinosaurs discovered in this valley. I took a guided Segway tour, which is a nice way of seeing the place bar the chance of skint knees!
You can feel a bit overwhelmed arriving at a place as grand as this but, in practice, you could not be more welcome. That’s what I love about the world’s best hotels - they make everything seem effortless. Why doesn’t every hotel make you feel this way? The staff treat you like you’re an old pal that just showed up for the weekend. It’s not forced or fake; they’re just really good at it. I got into my palace of a room and the porter took real pleasure in showing me how my mirror-in-the bathroom TV worked.
As the sun set behind Cheyenne Mountain, I hit the pool. The kids here line up like Wimbledon ball boys and girls ready to dash off and fetch you a towel or cool drink. They’re surprisingly international too. I spoke with staff from South Africa and Switzerland, eager to get a summer at The Broadmoor on their CV.
It’s also interesting to note The Broadmoor is run by the same company that owns Sea Island Resort in Georgia. Of all the American golf properties I’ve visited, Sea Island stands out as one of the finest and, as I began to get its measure, The Broadmoor was rapidly rising right up there with it.
The East Course
My blissful little Broadmoor bubble was about to burst! The next morning, I teed up on the East Course, pictured left. The East is a beast from the very beginning and there’s no let-up all the way back to the hotel’s welcoming towers. It’s easily one of the toughest golf courses I’ve sampled.
The first four holes seemed to be the most demanding and that can be demoralising! But it was the greens all the way that were the real challenge: sloping, swift and subject to a mysterious ‘mountain effect’ where the ball seemed to be repelled from Cheyenne Mountain. It was the 14th by the time I’d secured my first par. A very tough day at the office!
The East is a true championship course in top-class condition and it will be interesting to see how the pros get when the US Senior Open Championship takes place here in late June this year.
The West Course
Later that same day, after a comforting lunch, I played the West Course with two guys named Joe. Both were employed as marshals on the golf courses, so their insights and anecdotes were entertaining.
“They’ll double-seed the rough but other than that the seniors will take The East as it comes,” said Joe No.1 regarding the impending tournament. I was managing the West a lot better, so happy to leave the trials of those East greens to better golfers than me. The West’s were considerably easier, almost slow in comparison with not nearly as much movement.
The West is also the more scenic of the two, with deer crossing the fairways as we played. “You might even see some bears,” one of the Joes told me. “If a bear comes after you,” he added, “run downhill because their back legs are bigger than the front and they end up tumbling.” Yeah, right! I’d just jump in the buggy and scarper!
I had one more night in The Broadmoor with a delicious meal at the Ristorante Del Lago. There are no less than ten restaurants and ten cafés at The Broadmoor and I’d like to sample everyone of them but I was up at 3am to drive up to Denver International and catch a flight to my next American encounter. I’d be having breakfast in California.
For more information on David's travels, including videos of most places he has visited, check out linksland.com
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