Plum Creek Golf Club (Castle Rock, CO on 08/05/14)

It was about a six hour drive back to the Denver area and we found ourselves at Plum Creek Golf Club on Tuesday morning which is south of town off of I-25. The course doesn’t come up too much when searching for courses in the area either online or on the golf forums. I wasn’t too excited about playing it because of the lack of information, but we needed a filler course. We were trying to build the day around an afternoon tee time at Bear Dance just down the road. Not knowing what lunch time traffic would be like and with the late night that we had on Monday we were trying to stay close to Bear Dance and minimize any travel until after the round there. Also, since we were trying to keep the morning price reasonable we ruled out Red Hawk Ridge and The Ridge at Castle Pines North. The price here was $55 which was line with what we wanted to pay.

While booking a tee time I discovered that there are two websites for the course and both were pretty simple designs. They do allow online bookings so I was able to snag an 8:40am tee time. The course is the old TPC course and hosted the Champions Tour a few times years ago from what I read. So in all honesty, I was expecting the older, run down course that had seen better days. I got a little more worried when we checked in at the proshop as there was hardly any merchandise and the decor was in serious need of updating. These things don’t bother me personally when reviewing a course, but they can be indicators of the course conditions. Based on some research that I’ve done while typing this, it appears that the management recently changed. That would be consistent with the two websites and understocked proshop.

We teed off on the 1st, which was originally the 10th, and I was immediately surprised with the condition of the course. We played the Two Plum tees which play 6583/70.7/133. Like all of the courses in Colorado that we played on the trip, Plum Creek was very green and looked great. The tees, fairways, and greens were all in good shape and I couldn’t blame any of my poor shots on the conditions. While the greens were a little slower than they looked, they were smooth and would have been a good speed to give some putts a run if we hadn’t played on quicker greens the last couple rounds. Some of the downhill putts, even from a short distance,  could easily run way past the hole so I had to be careful with those. The rough was thick and a lot could go wrong from it. Most of the time I was just trying to advance the ball from the rough and hoping that it would end up near the green. Many of the short game shots were also played from thick rough so some practice with an open faced lob wedge would be helpful, at least with the current conditions.

The layout isn’t a wicked Pete Dye design. For those that read through my blog you see that I’m not a Pete Dye fan and I typically try to avoid his courses, especially on vacation. Here however, I don’t think he overdid it with the railroad ties, deep bunkering, or mounding. These features added to the aesthetics and were not in play on every hole. There were some chipping areas and grass bunkers around the greens but nothing too severe. This is a community course with homes on every hole so if that isn’t your thing then I’d stay away. The homes take away from the scenery and there are out of bounds stakes all over the place. However, I think Dye did a good job using the property to create some elevation change and bring some pine trees into play. Years ago I played The Ridge at Castle Pines North, which isn’t too far away, and was amazed at how many homes line that course and it costs a lot more. There are some Pete Dye courses that I cannot stand, but this isn’t one of them.

I enjoyed golfing in this part of town and had a nice morning once I figured out that I didn’t bring any game. Plum Creek isn’t a destination course in the area, but I’d say it is a great value compared to all of the premium courses nearby.

#1 (345 yard par 4):

This is a pretty fair opening hole, at least from these tees. The fairway narrows as someone gets closer to the green so a long iron is probably the play off the tee. Out of bounds creeps in down the side. There is a grass valley short of the green so the approach needs to carry all the way onto the surface.

1-1

#2 (514 yard par 5):

This par 5 moves left and most of the fairway is blind from the tee. The fairway angles with the hole so hitting a straight shot or a cut makes it tougher to keep it from running through the fairway. There is a long bunker down the left side so it is a good driving hole. The green is slightly elevated so only a long iron or fairway wood is going to have a chance to run onto the front.

2-1 2-2

#3 (178 yard par 3):

This par 3 is one of my favorite holes on the course. It has some nice views from an elevated tee and it plays to a green with some slope from back to front. There are no tricks here and someone can play conservatively to the back of the green to avoid a waste area short. The waste area is pretty much just sand so it won’t be a lost ball, but there are a bunch of railroad ties so you know early on who designed it!

3-1

#4 (365 yard par 4):

This is a short par 4 that plays even shorter because it is downhill. The fairway feeds the ball from left to right so a play down the left side is best. I had trouble figuring out what layup club that I wanted to hit off the tee, but after playing it a couple times it shouldn’t be too tough. There is some room right, but I found the deep rough over there. The second shot is played to a green that slopes off long and left so a precise approach is needed.

4-1 4-2

#5 (359 yard par 4):

I think that this par 4 is one of the less interesting holes on the front nine. It plays just enough uphill that I didn’t know what line to pick off the tee. It is probably a layup off the tee to keep the ball from running through the fairway.

5-1

#6 (496 yard par 5):

This par 5 slides a bit right and is a good birdie chance as it plays slightly downhill. The ideal tee shot is down the right side of the fairway and then someone can go for the green in two. There is a chance to run it up onto the front right of the green so the best miss is over there.

6-1 6-2

#7 (427 yard par 4):

If you had any doubt about who designed the course, then it should be gone after seeing the below picture. This hole was designed as the 16th hole and would have started a tough finish. There is water and railroad ties down the right side of the hole all the way up to the green so make sure to miss it left.

7-1

#8 (130 yard par 3):

This is a fun par 3 even though it is typical Pete Dye. It is only 135 yards from the tips so it is just going to be a short iron for almost everyone. The greens angles from front right to back left so it is a longer carry over the water on lines left of the green center. There are a couple greenside bunkers behind the green which are hidden from view.

8-1

#9 (425 yard par 4):

The front nine closes with a double dogleg par 4. The hole snakes around some mounding on the left from the tee and then back to the right around some water. There is a little more fairway to the left than it looks. It is then a mid iron to a smaller green considering the length of the hole. It is very important to find the fairway here or like me, you might be forced to miss into the hillside over the green. That leaves a downhill chip towards the water.

9-1 9-2

#10 (380 yard par 4):

The hole moves right and it looks like a tough tee shot, but with enough club some of the hillside on the right can be carried. The green is small and drops off severely to the right so make sure favor the left side of it.

10-1 10-2

#11 (194 yard par 3):

This par 3 is a really tough hole and that is thanks to the green. The green is long and narrow so a back flag is going to be tough to get to but the front one isn’t a bargain either. There is a bunch of slope from left to right in the front section of the green and even from short distance I ran my putt five feet past.

11-1 11-2

#12 (410 yard par 4):

This is a straight away par 4 from the tees that we played and is a good birdie chance. There is some room to miss right before heading out of bounds and the green is fairly flat.

12-1

#13 (385 yard par 4):

I really liked this downhill par 4. The tee shot can be played down the left side of the fairway and it should kick towards the center with the slope. The second shot is going to be a short iron into a green with some levels so controlling the distance and spin is important.

13-1

#14 (541 yard par 5):

This par 5 moves gently left and plays to a small green. Because of the small green, I think laying up closer to the green is the best play unless the pin is in the front. The it might be best to lay back to put some spin on it.

14-1 14-3

#15 (436 yard par 4):

This par 4 is a strong hole. The fairway slopes from right to left so playing down the right side is best. Because of the distance a mid or long iron into the green awaits most players. Par here is something to be proud of.

15-1

#16 (161 yard par 3):

This looks more intimidating than it actually plays. It plays a little shorter than the yardage and the green is pretty large. Plus, there is a bunker or waste area short of the green which can catch some tee shots. Hitting it close to the pin on the right is probably going to require some movement from left to right.

16-1

#17 (537 yard par 5):

This tee shot plays similar to the 15th and a draw can run out quite a bit. I hit a good tee shot down the left side and went for the green with just an iron. If trying to get there in two then water guards the green on the left so missing short or right is the best play.

17-1

#18 (300 yard par 4):

The last hole is a fairly undramatic par 4 and would make a much better 9th hole (which is how it was designed). It is a going to be a layup off the tee and a short iron into a semi-blind green. It is a good birdie chance if someone can control the distance on the approach. I don’t see a reason to hit driver off the tee unless someone can carry it to the front of the green as the fairway narrows and out of bounds pinches on the right side.

18-1 18-2

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