The City of Denver has been in the golf business for over a century — and it’s never looked like a smarter investment than during the pandemic, providing low-cost games with challenges for everyone from amateurs to experts.
Social distancing, meanwhile, is par for the course in golf. Here’s the rundown on Denver’s eight golf facilities.
Evergreen Golf Course
29614 Upper Bear Creek Road, Evergreen
18-hole executive course, pro shop, restaurant, putting green
Thanks to a wise land purchase in 1919, Denver owns and operates a golf course in Evergreen, thirty minutes outside of the city. A true mountain course, Evergreen Golf Course offers undulating fairways, wildlife sightings and tall pine trees. The air is cooler at this altitude, making this course a great option when temperatures in Denver are scorching. Although it has eighteen holes, Evergreen is an executive course, so it’s shorter than a typical regulation course — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. For example, take hole 3, a 109-yard par 3: With the tee box set up just before a large boulder, a player can’t see where the green is located, making for an exhilarating and often nerve-racking first shot.
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City Park Golf Course
3181 East 23rd Avenue
18-hole regulation course, pro shop, restaurant, driving range, chipping area, putting green
No course better captures golf in a big city than City Park Golf Course. Players are surrounded by pleasant greenery, with Denver’s skyscrapers looming just two miles away and the mountains off in the distance. City Park was Denver’s first foray into operating a golf course of its own, and it’s been a hit with golfers young and old for close to a century. According to former Denver Golf head Tom Woodard, a teenage Tiger Woods and his father hit a few balls at City Park. Over the past few years, the course has been closed for a wastewater project; it’s set to reopen on September 1, and those who’ve toured the revamp are already raving about it.
Willis Case Golf Course
4999 Vrain Street
18-hole regulation course, pro shop, restaurant, putting green
In 2019, more eighteen-hole rounds of golf were played at Willis Case than at any other city course. The front nine here are considered the best nine holes of golf in the city by many fans; all eighteen holes have a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains. The 16th hole is particularly noteworthy: The fairway filters toward the green like a natural grass valley, almost as though a current of water might carry a ball down into the hole.
Wellshire Golf Course
3333 South Colorado Boulevard
18-hole regulation course, pro shop, pub, chipping green with practice bunkers, putting green, driving range, golf lessons with PGA professionals
Wellshire has the best pedigree of Denver’s courses: It was designed by renowned golf course architect Donald Ross and is the only municipal Ross course west of the Mississippi. This facility was a fancy country club before falling into bankruptcy and being bought by the city, and the clubhouse is gorgeous, evoking the feel of a posh English club. On top of that, golfing legend Ben Hogan won the Denver Open Invitational Championship at Wellshire in 1948, making this hallowed ground...with a twist: Hogan left the course thinking his score would land him in second place, but the golfer in the lead blew up on the final holes. When Hogan got back to his hotel, his wife let him know that he had won, according to the Golf History Today website.
Kennedy Golf Course
10500 East Hampden Avenue
Three 9-hole courses, one par-3 course, pro shop with snack bar, restaurant, driving range with lights, mini-golf course
By far the most versatile facility in Denver, Kennedy Golf Course has three nine-hole courses, plus a nine-hole par-3 course. All four provide unique experiences for golfers, with varying levels of difficulty. The Creek 9, as the newest of the nine-hole courses is known, is the most scenic. Get there early in the morning and you’ll feel a profound sense of solitude; you’ll also be able to speed through it in a little over an hour.
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Overland Park Golf Course
1801 South Huron Street
18-hole regulation course, pro shop, restaurant, driving range
For those who want to turn their driver game into an exacting strength, Overland Park is the course. The fairways are narrow, so golfers can’t get by with a hook or slice. And when a shot does go awry, the ball will simply land on an adjacent fairway. This course is also fun for history buffs, since it was built on the site of the first golf course in Denver. More recently, it was the home of Grandoozy, a giant music festival, in September 2018. At the time, there was much discussion of whether giant events belonged on golf courses — but the pandemic has tabled that topic.
Harvard Gulch Golf Course
660 East Iliff Avenue
9-hole par-3 course, pro shop
Par-3 courses are one of the best ways to get newbies into golf, since they allow players to focus on the basics of getting the ball from the tee box into the hole. One of two par-3 courses in Denver, Harvard Gulch has the bonus of being absolutely gorgeous. Hole 8 is a particularly Colorado hole, making you feel like you’re hitting a ball into the mountains while standing in grass heaven.
501 West Florida Avenue
Driving range and two mini-golf courses
Ever want to smash a golf ball into the ocean? Aqua Golf is Denver’s version of that, though here you’re hitting balls into a lake. Still, it’s a ton of fun, even in the winter, when the balls bounce off the ice. The driving range offers golfers a chance to hit into the sunset as the sky turns all kinds of beautiful. The facility also has 36 holes of mini-golf, a great way to cap off time spent at the range.
Read about the history of Denver's municipal golf courses in our cover story. Looking for a tee time? Contact Denver Golf.