Murphy Creek Golf Course (Aurora, CO on 08/05/14)

If you think you are missing a review of Bear Dance then you are correct. The short of it is that we didn’t get to play there although we made every possible effort. After we finished up at Plum Creek we had some lunch and headed over to Bear Dance. We had a 2:48pm tee time there and the proshop told us that we could head out early if we wanted. We hit some balls and were ready to get going but decided to see what the weather was going to do. There were some ominous looking storms building and we didn’t want to play a couple holes and then end up with a rain check that we couldn’t use. It turned out to be a good decision as we wouldn’t have finished the first hole before the rain, lightning, and thunder arrived. We waited about an hour before deciding to pack it in and come up with a different plan for the day. The proshop was nice enough to refund our money and we killed some time until the rest of the storms passed. By the time we could play it was late in the day and we weren’t guaranteed to finish, so we weren’t looking to pay a bunch of money and play in the dark. That meant Bear Dance was out and Red Hawk Ridge had a league going out so we were left scrambling.

We each called a few places but knew we were running out of daylight. The proshop at Murphy Creek said that they were wide open and to come on out so we headed over there. I didn’t research this course at all before the trip but knew that quite a few people liked it. It was priced right at $39 for a twilight time and we were just trying to get around before dark so it wouldn’t feel like a wasted day. We ended up teeing off at 5:15pm and just squeezed in the round as darkness fell so everything worked out. I’m sure we kept the staff late so a special thanks to them!

We played the Blue tees which play 72.1/132/6909 and the course has two completely different nines. I loved the front nine as it plays on the desolate prairie but didn’t enjoy the back as much since many of the holes play through the homes. The front is as good as it gets when it comes to golf on flat land and many holes have the treeless links feel to them. These holes are out in the open, have fescue lining the fairways, and have some waste bunkers that come into play. The par 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s are all different distances too so there were a good variety of challenges with some views of the front range off in the distance. The 9th hole is a drivable par 4 and one of the better ones that I’ve played. In fact, the front has multiple risk-reward holes.

The back nine is completely different with some wetlands and man-made water hazards in play on many of the holes. Homes line most of the holes (and are quite close too) so it is a pretty dramatic change from the front. The back nine is about 200 yards longer and more about position with narrower fairways. I like consistent scenery when playing a course and the change with home after home on the back was too abrupt for my liking. I’d still recommend the course and enjoyed it but the front is going to create all the buzz.

The course was in very nice condition like every other place that we played in Colorado. I believe that this is a city course and that makes the conditions even more impressive. There were very few ball marks and divots, the fairways were cut short, and the greens were smooth. I’d say the greens were a bit slower than they looked, but that doesn’t bother me. I did notice a couple patched sections but it didn’t look like they would have any affect on play. Apparently the course is ranked among the top 10 public courses in Colorado as recent as a couple years ago which I found surprising. I haven’t played a bunch of courses in the state so I’m not an expert on the subject, but that ranking seems generous considering all the homes. I don’t think someone is going to be disappointed with the course and I’d certainly recommend it, although a super twilight rate would have been nice.

#1 (345 yard par 4):

This is a good opening hole with some options off the tee. There are two sections of fairway divided by some rough. The green is off to the right so someone can lay back off the tee and leave a full shot into the green that might be semi-blind or try to get it into the second section of fairway which brings the bunkers into play.

1-1

#2 (467 yard par 4):

This tee shot on this long par 4 can run out a bit because it plays to a slight downslope. The approach is a long club and someone needs to decide to try to carry a small hazard short of the green or play out to the left leaving a chip for the 3rd. I didn’t think that I could carry the hazard and stop it on the green with a 3 iron so I played out to the left and had a decent chance at a par without too much risk of a double.

2-1 2-2

#3 (577 yard par 5):

This is a long par 5 that moves a bit to the right. Depending on the wind the tee shot should be able to carry that lone fairway bunker but then there are quite a few more that can affect the semi-blind approach. I think it would help to play this hole a few times to figure out the best spot to lay it up to.

3-1

#4 (414 yard par 4):

This is a good driving hole. The temptation is to try to carry the waste area (which looks like a bunker). It is a longer carry to clear the right side so a good drive, even if a little offline, could still end up in it. There is room short of the green to run it on with a long iron if someone wants to have the tee shot end up down the left side.

4-1 4-2

#5 (152 yard par 3):

I liked the look of this hole as it plays over a waste area with some tall fescue grass. It is a mid iron to a wide green.

5-1 5-2

#6 (514 yard par 5):

This is a reachable par 5 and it plays a little shorter as it moves left. There is a bunker that pushes tee shots to the right which can cause the fairway to run out and a longer second into the green. The aggressive play is a little left of the bunker to a tongue of fairway which could leave just a mid iron into the green. A miss around the green short or right is best.

6-1

#7 (370 yard par 4):

The hole doglegs left and the green is out over that waste bunker on the left. The fairway bunker pinches the tee shot so it is a bit of an awkward looking tee shot.

7-1 7-2

#8 (183 yard par 3):

I think this par 3 over the water looks more difficult than it plays. The reeds obstruct a clear view of the green but a solid shot out the right has a chance to kick left off the hump near the bunker. There is some room to work with short and right.

8-1

#9 (311 yard par 4):

This is by far the best hole on the course. It is 311 yards on the card, but that is playing out to the marker down the fairway and then into the green. In was only 250 yards in a straight line to the center of the green when trying to carry the trouble from our tees. I hit driver and was pin high but in a greenside bunker on the right and played my bunker shot towards the hazard. There is maybe 15 or 20 yards short of the green where there is fairway or rough so it isn’t the longest carry. I personally think that the best play is to that area short of the green to leave a chip up the fat part of it. Anything pin high and to the right needs to be really precise. Finally, there is a false front on the green. It was a blast to play.

9-1

#10 (365 yard par 4):

This is a short par 4 but I made it play more difficult than it needed to be. I laid back too far as I thought that bunker off in the distance (straight out over the tee box) was closer. I don’t think driver is the best play, but take whatever club to be just short of that bunker for a favorite distance and it will open up a short second into the green. There is a valley in the green so if the pin is there then it should be a great birdie hole.

10-1

#11 (195 yard par 3):

I think that this par 3 is very similar to the 5th, just longer. It plays the same direction, the green is wide, and there is a bunker short of the green. I got lucky and found that there is a little room on the left to miss.

11-1

#12 (469 yard par 4):

This long par 4 is the second hardest hole on the course. I think the tees were up when we played because it sure didn’t play like 469 yards. From where we were at we could take it just right of that tree on the left center of the picture. I had a short iron into a green with two different levels. Depending on where the tees are located it could be a really long carry to the fairway.

12-1

#13 (519 yard par 5):

This is a potentially reachable par 5. In order to get there in two most players will need to hug the left side which brings the fairway bunkers into play. That leaves the shortest distance to the green. There are some places to miss short, left, and right of the greenside bunker so a chip close shouldn’t be too difficult.

13-1 13-2

#14 (383 yard par 4):

This was a layup for me as the fairway narrows and I wanted to hit something to keep it short of the fairway bunker. Water is all down the left side so make sure to favor the right. The green is pretty small so make not to lay it back too far.

14-1

#15 (566 yard par 5):

This wasn’t my favorite hole. It is a par 5 that moves right around some water, but it is sandwiched on each side with homes. A shot down the left could end up out of bounds. The good news is that the fairway is larger than it looks.

15-1 15-2

#16 (414 yard par 4):

This is a straightaway par 4 and someone just needs to avoid the trouble down the left side. There is some slope on the right side that could kick a ball towards the fairway.

16-1

#17 (225 yard par 3):

I like a long par 3 with a large green which is what this is. However, I wish there were some easier spots to play from left of the green. Bunkers and trouble await on the right side so it is best to go left. The front left section slopes the ball off the green and I wish it was the opposite. That, or get rid of that bunker on the left and replace it which a chipping area to make it a bit more player friendly.

17-1

#18 (440 yard par 4):

This is a long par 4 to close but there aren’t any tricks to it. Some of the longer hitters might have to lay back on a line down the center of the fairway to keep it from running into a bunker or try to fly driver over the bunkers on the right.

18-1

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