Colorado Springs, Colo. – The Broadmoor is no ordinary golf venue. It has
been home to some of the most memorable USGA championships in history,
including Jack Nicklaus' 1959 U.S. Amateur win, Juli Inkster's third
consecutive U.S. Women's Amateur victory in 1982 and Annika Sorenstam's first
professional triumph at the 1995 U.S. Women's Open.
But it's not just golf history that makes the grounds at the
base of the Rocky Mountains something special. The only thing typical at The
Broadmoor is the atypical.
exhausting golf course,” said reigning Women's Open champ Paula Creamer. “It's
a long walk, lots of thinking. Definitely, if you lose your (concentration) on
one shot, it's gonna cost you big time here.”
No one knows the warning label better than Sorenstam, who
remains – until the end of the week –
the only player to win a Women's Open at The Broadmoor. As honorary chairman
for the event, Sorenstam remains respectful of the special challenge it
“The practice rounds are really important for the players,”
Sorenstam said. “Getting to know how much the elevation is affecting their
shots, how the greens are, where the slopes are. I mean, you name it. The
practice rounds are going to be very, very important here.”
Practice doesn't make perfect in golf, but practice makes
prudence. The wisdom players ascertain early in the week can be critical to
their chances as the week progresses.
“Local knowledge is huge here,” said Ben Kimball, the
director of the Women's Open. “Players are going to see putts that are toward
the direction of the Rockies that are significantly slower than away from them.
There's no grain, so you can't read anything into that, but it's a strange push
or pull that it has.
“So even though we're monitoring our green speeds, where it
may say 11.3 or 11.5 [feet on the USGA Stimpmeter], that's only in the spot
where they can find a flat lie, which there's not many out there. But if you
putt uphill, it's probably 10. You turn the other way, it's probably 12.
There's no way you can keep it all the same, so it will be consistently
There's the rub with a golf course that feature some holes
originally designed by Donald Ross (Nos. 1 through 6 and 16 through 18) and
some originally tailored by Robert Trent Jones Sr. (Nos. 7 through 15).
The East Course is not only a series of adjustments for
those who play it; it also presented unique challenges for those who set it up
for a national championship. It has been 16 years since the best female players
in the world came to The Broadmoor. Advances in technology and agronomy have
significantly changed the way the game is played.
When Sorenstam won the championship in '95, the course was just
under 6,400 yards long. This week, it has been stretched to 7,047 yards, the
longest layout in Women's Open history. But Kimball explained the numbers are
“It's just a number
on a piece of paper,” Kimball said. “I
can guarantee you that the yardage is not going to be an issue this week. With
the elevation, with the hot, arid weather and dry conditions that we can get here,
7,047 is not going to be a whole lot for the best female players in the world.”
Kimball used No. 17 as an example. The par-5 hole is set to
play at 600 yards, which is the longest hole in Women's Open history. But it
also is downhill and slightly away from Cheyenne Mountain off in the distance.
In effect, No. 17 probably won't play like the longest hole in championship history.
“If that was going the other direction, maybe we would have
to reconsider that one,” Kimball said. “But since it's going downhill, away
from the mountain, we feel it's going to be nothing for these ladies.”
Making adjustments, paying attention, figuring out quirks
will be part of the Battle at Broadmoor. As Kimball suggests, the only
certainty this week will be uncertainty.
The USGA once again is employing graduated rough, but the farther
one strays from the fairway, the worse it gets. “The rough is very deceiving,”
Creamer said. “It doesn't look very thick, but it's nasty.”
Because of the lack of humidity in the air, the USGA likely
will have to put water on the course at various times, meaning it might play
slightly differently in the morning than it does in the afternoon.
Of course, the field switches starting times the first two
days to level the playing field.
“I think players have to do a lot more thinking here than
just what they see in front of them,” Kimball said. “That applies to
everything. Not just physically and mentally, but I wouldn't be surprised if
some players come in with higher lofts in some clubs to take advantage of the
“I think you'll see morning and afternoon changes just in
conditions. In order for us to survive in this climate, we have to be pretty
aggressive with our water management plan. That's why we have morning and
“Conditions are going to be a little different.. And the
weather conditions can change in a heartbeat here, because there's no humidity.
Those are all things we think about and take into consideration.”
Those are all things that make The Broadmoor extraordinary,
and make this 66th U.S. Women's Open special.