Ross Design Will Test
July 3, 2008
By Art Stricklin
Colorado Springs, Colo. - Players arriving at the historic
Broadmoor East Course for this year's U.S. Senior Open will
find a traditional Donald Ross design that has confounded
golfers for decades.
While Ross designed more than 400 courses in the U.S. after
emigrating from Scotland, highlighted by Pinehurst No. 2,
he only did a handful of courses west of the Mississippi
The Senior Open, held July 31-Aug. 3, will be the first
time the championship will be played on this Ross classic.
It will also feature a traditional, challenging design with
crowned poa annua greens that will actually be slowed down
for the championship.
"We've had a lot of senior players come out here to see the
course and get in some practice rounds, and almost every
one has commented on how much they enjoy playing a true
traditional course with nothing tricked up," said Broadmoor
Director of Golf, Russ Miller.
"From 100 yards off the tee box, you can see almost
everything that is out there on the holes."
Just because almost all the Ross hazards are present and
accounted for, it doesn't mean they will be easy to
overcome. At 7,253 yards, it will be the longest layout in
Senior Open history.
Two of the par 5s at The Broadmoor, No. 7 and 11, have been
converted to par 4s. No par 5s are on the back nine. But
there are five par 4s measuring more than 450 yards along
with the par-3 12
(240 yards) from the back tees.
|Will Tom Watson finally realize a
Senior Open title this year on the Ross design? (John
Because conditions can vary during the championship,
USGA officials have the opportunity to change the hole
length between rounds, offering a 100-yard overall
difference depending on tee placement.
Thanks to Ross' challenging greens and the USGA's graduated
rough, which begins at 1 1/2 inches just off the fairways
and rises up to 4 1/2 inches for those seriously off line,
the big hitters won't have a huge advantage at the East
"If I was picking a winner, I'd look at somebody who is a
straight driver of the ball and somebody who putts well,"
said Miller. "Length isn't the huge advantage you would
think it would be."
Because the Broadmoor sits at 6,000 feet elevation above
sea level, the ball flies typically 8 percent farther than
While Colorado Springs offers prime wintertime skiing, the
summer time can be very dry. It's ripe for sudden storms
and lightning, fostering firm and fast conditions.
"I think the firmer it is, the more difficult it will
play," said Miller. 'When it's moister, it becomes much
While Ross designed the course in 1917 and opened it a year
later as the grandest resort in the Rocky Mountain Region,
it has seen changes over the last 90 years due to tens of
thousands of rounds played and changes in ownership and
To bring the East Course back to prime Ross condition, the
Broadmoor owners hired restoration expert Ron Forse, a
member of the Donald Ross Society, to return the course to
original Ross form.
"We had some bunkers which had been covered over and we
moved them back to where they were a real challenge for the
players," said Miller. "We also had green encroachment and
we moved the greens back to their original size.
"It was really a matter of getting back to the tradition of
great golf at the Broadmoor."
This will be the sixth USGA championship held at the
The East Course has the reputation of bringing out some of
the greatest champions. Jack Nicklaus won the first U.S.
Amateur held here in 1959, and Annika Sorenstam notched her
first major in the 1995 Women's Open.
Miller feels the formula could hold true for this year's
Senior Open, selecting champions Fred Funk, Jay Haas,
Bernhard Langer and Loren Roberts as players to watch.
While none of the aforementioned has won a Senior Open,
each has multi Champions Tour victories. Haas and Roberts
grabbed season-ending Champions Tour awards.
That doesn't discount defending champion Brad Bryant, who
staged the second-largest rally in Senior Open history to
win last year at Whistling Straits. Other players to watch
are two-time Open champion Allen Doyle and three-time
runner up Tom Watson.
There isn't much of a home-course advantage in only the
second Senior Open ever played in Colorado.
Two-time Open Champion Hale Irwin was an All-Conference
defensive back at the of , but lives out of state and
doesn't play or practice here. Both Mark Weibe and Dale
Douglass live in the Denver area, an hour away, and have
already made multiple scouting trips to check out the
public resort that annually hosts 30,000-40,000 rounds.
While the West and Mountain courses will still accommodate
public play, the East Course closes to the public July 14.
That's where history, tradition and a restored Ross layout
should combine to produce a memorable magic mountainside
ArtStricklin is a freelance writer whose work as previously