There are a surfeit of reasons to visit lovely Colorado Springs, just sixty-odd miles south of Denver, on the Front Range of the Rockies. These include a temperate climate, great biking-and-hiking, wonderful scenery, fun-and-funky satellite towns like Colorado City and Manitou Springs, which are perfect for shopping, strolling and dining. There’s also the proximity to iconic Pike’s Peak, windswept and snowcapped, one of the nation’s best-known mountains. However for the traveling golfer, the best reason to visit comes down to three simple words: The Broadmoor Hotel. The 36 stirring, strategic holes on property only begin to tell the story of one of the finest full-service resorts in the nation.
Grab a National Rental Car in either Denver or Colorado Springs. The former will take about ninety minutes, the latter barely twenty. In either case, one will arrive at a Shangri-La of gentility, an oasis of fine service, excellent dining, and a dizzying array of common areas, sitting rooms and lobbies, peppered with fresh floral arrangements, noteworthy artwork, statuary and memorabilia stretching back a century. There are a dozen (even dozens) of things to do, but the golf is paramount.
The East Course has the imprimatur as the championship venue. The West Course has bigger views of downtown Colorado Springs and plenty of tricky, memorable holes. Taken in tandem, it’s delightful to know they both commence and conclude in the same staging area, and are just a five minute walk from the hotel. No shuttles or outside transportation necessary to access all that green grass.
The West is tighter off the tee, more tree trouble on the periphery than its acclaimed sibling. The strongest stretch is the course’s middle portion. The ninth is a gorgeous, over-water par-3. The tenth is an uphill par-5 with mounding helping to rebound errant tee shots back towards the fairway. The next is a downhill par-3, followed by a long, dogleg par-4. This quartet is the teeth of the course, though there are some subsequent par-4 holes playing downhill with magnificent city views that will linger in memory long after the round concludes.
The East will host the 2018 U.S. Senior Open, continuing a long tradition of championship play. Among other luminaries who captured their first taste of Major success, it was the site of 1959 U.S. Amateur, won by Jack Nicklaus, and the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open, won by Annika Sorenstam. Apparently they liked the feeling of victory so much they combined to win twenty-eight additional titles of the same magnitude! This Donald Ross design from 1918 was at the time the highest golf course in the nation, at 6,400 feet. Though it’s been superseded height-wise in the ensuing century, it still beguiles both resort and competitive golfers with a wonderful mixture of challenging holes which unfold seamlessly on this wonderful landscape. Short-but-tricky par-5 holes are the theme on the outward journey, as the third, seventh and ninth are all reachable in two blows by big hitters. But the true puzzle is deciphering these mystifying greens. The one-shot holes are also highlights. The third plays over water, the eight over a diabolical, ball-eating ravine. For the time-challenged golfer, the East is the singular choice, but try and make room for both rounds.
Also make room for a wonderful array of dining experiences, not the least of which is the superlative Sunday Brunch in the Terrace Dining Room. The high-end world of full-service golf resorts doesn’t cut corners come brunch-time, and places like The Homestead, The Greenbrier and others of the same ilk pull out all the stops. Nothing tops The Broadmoor however, with 150 items, including a raw bar, omelet station, carvery, crepe station, a dessert bar that would make a dentist howl, and enough gustatory pleasures to make Henry VIII blush.
Old school dining-and-dancing are the watchwords at La Taverne, which offers aged steaks and a youthful-sounding musical quartet on weekends. All the better to work off some of the dining indulgences by taking a few vigorous turns on the dance floor between courses.
Excellent Italian food is the watchword at Ristorante Del Lago, modeled after some of the fine eateries surrounding Italy’s Lake Como. Indoor and outdoor seating are available, and the fireplace keeps the chill away as evening falls. Plenty of the menu’s staples are imported from long-time suppliers in Italy (cured meats, cheeses, olive oil, etc.) and the wood-fired pizzas only begin to tell the story of a wonderful menu full of succulent choices.
While one could ensconce themselves happily at The Broadmoor and never leave the grounds, there is a ‘field trip’ worth taking. Bike Pike’s Peak is an outfit that takes intrepid souls to the top of the majestic mountain via van. (There is also a railway option.) Customers are outfitted with parkas, gloves and wool hats, saddle up on sturdy mountain bikes, (the brakes are checked before, during and after) and free-wheel from the 14,000 foot summit. Look at it like this: Not five in a thousand have the fitness level or fortitude necessary to ascend Pike’s Peak via bicycle. But anyone with a sense of adventure, who enjoys an adrenaline rush and humongous, hundred-mile views, can whiz (or meander, depending on comfort level) down the mountain on a bike. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and in its own way, as memorable as a stay at The Broadmoor.