Colorado’s Omni Interlocken Golf Club

Photo: Sunshine Course, Hole 3 © FRANCIS X. GALLAGHER

By - January 1, 2017

A LAST-MINUTE INVITATION to a golf outing had me arriving late from Denver International Airport. I caught an Uber, and the driver drove like a madman as I tried to give directions to the Omni Interlocken Resort from my iPhone. Early the next morning, I met the team headed by Gary Huang of EVA Air; John Jermyn of American Express and Ed Henderson of Exxon Mobil completed our foursome.

I have frequently played the Omni Interlocken Golf Club when visiting Denver for conferences. The terrific, award-winning setup with three nine-hole courses makes it a perfect setting for large outings like the one I played at the annual Global Business Travel Association convention. Imagine a golf outing with airline and hotel executives plus business travel planners all vying for the annual cup! It makes for a great kickoff to the convention where attendees are introduced to the best innovations the travel industry has to offer frequent travelers.

Designed by Graham and Panks International, the club opened in the modern golf heyday of 1999 when courses were sprouting up all over the United States. This partnership between David Graham, 1981 U.S. Open champion and PGA Senior Tour player, and Gary Panks created a venue for golf on 300-plus acres between Boulder and Denver.

Although our team came in third place (I guess you need more than seven birdies to win), we had a great time and enjoyed the challenges and camaraderie.

Vista Course

HOLE 2 | 183 yards, par 3
The Bloody Marys were flowing when we made our way to the second hole on the Vista nine. A creek and brush run across the green, making any errant shots a lost cause. Ed secured the shot of the day in front of a cheering group of hole sponsor staff. I hooked my ball into the drainage ditch on the left side of the hole, findable but certainly not in the team’s best interest. Gary caught the trap on the right side of the green and John went straight into the creek! A proud Ed made the putt for a birdie — a start to a trend.

HOLE 5 | 240 yards, par 3
Fortunately, the powers that be moved the tees up for Hole 5, so we faced considerably less yardage than on the card. A steady head wind was pushing attempts to the green back and to the left, evident from the group in front of us (they were a chip from the left side behind a trap). Our best shot was Gary’s tee to the left of the green; the others scattered like pebbles on a beach in various positions. Nonetheless, Ed made a remarkable chip into the cup from about 20 feet away, securing yet another team birdie.

HOLE 7 | 482 yards, par 4
The competition was a shotgun start and teams spread out among the holes. Starting on Hole 7, the No. 1 handicapped hole on the course, might not have been the best option, but this was the hand we were dealt. One by one we teed off and drove the balls to their landing point. The tendency is to drive your tee shot too far left and then bounce into the fescue or fall in the creek that lines the entire left side of the fairway. Gary and I managed to favor the right side, which offered us two balls in position “A” to choose for our second shot. The creek turns and runs across the green at about 95 yards from the cup. Our approach shot landed about 120 yards out, and after three lackluster shots, Gary shot his ball up and high to the green. A two-putt secured par for the first hole of the round.

Sunshine Course

HOLE 3 | 237 yards, par 3
Another stiff wind and the “hole in one” sponsored hole require significantly more club than one would think. Gary slammed a strong drive off the tee to the right side of the fairway and into the fescue, never to be found. Ed and John did not take enough club, so their balls were well short of the green. I took a mighty swing and had a lovely shot on the green but still 20 feet from the cup — alas, the hole-in-one Mercedes-Benz was safe. The gents verifying the holes in one informed me I was one of the closest to the cup so far. A two-putt secured us a par for the hole, not too shabby from all accounts.

HOLE 6 | 553 yards, par 5
The wind was in our favor, so we teed up the balls high and let them fly down the fairway. I got hold of one squarely and it flew straight but favored the left side over the impending traps; Ed thought I was in danger of landing in a trap or possibly bouncing left out of bounds. All three of my teammates hit strong drives to various parts of the fairway. The best ball, after all the naysaying from Ed, was my left shot, which rode the hill a bit, offering more distance than my partners’ shots. Still miles away, we all took turns launching our fairway woods at the team ball. John contributed with a fine shot about 120 yards from the green. Ed took us home with a shot past the cup to the back of the green. No birdies this time, but a nice par on a long hole is a reward in itself.

HOLE 7 | 470 yards, par 4
Ranked the No. 1 handicapped hole on the Sunshine nine, our team took on this challenge and was able to card a par. The hole has two traps on the left side of the fairway that often catch balls before they run off into the fescue. A long trap sits on the right side of the fairway equally ready to capture balls trying to bounce out and gain some more distance to the center of the fairway. We had a trio of respectable drives off the tee from Gary, Ed and John; I was the man out with a drive to the left traps. However, I contributed to the team effort by landing the ball to the green, allowing us to secure a two-putt for the card. The green features a large, long trap on the left side that often ends golfers’ visions of birdies.

OMNI INTERLOCKEN RESORT GOLF CLUB
800 Eldorado Blvd.
Broomfield, CO 80021
tel 303 494 9000
interlockengolf.com

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