Denver is not asking what the Kennedy Golf Course can do for the city, but what the city can do for golf.
A master plan is being developed to redesign the golf course so that all of its segments are comparable to each other, and to consider a new lodge and other features.
Kennedy is the largest of Denver’s seven golf courses. It has 27 regulation holes of golf between three sections of nine holes. The first two nine, named Babe Lind and West, were built in 1963, and the new Creek was completed in 1994.
There is also a par three course on the campus golf course that doubles as a foot golf course, and two putt-putt courses are adjacent to the clubhouse. The campus has a large driving range with a practice putting green, but the short play practice area has been closed for the time being.
Richard Mandell, a golf architect tasked with leading the redesign of the city’s course, is looking to reshape it for the foreseeable future. Kennedy was built when the drivers were still made of wood and technology wasn’t helping players reach 350 yards.
Despite some of the toughest holes on Denver’s courses, Kennedy is showing his age. For example, tee boxes are typically designed to vary in length depending on the skill of the golfer. But the Kennedys are close to each other.
âWe’re planning to renovate all three nines on the golf course, and one of the goals we discussed was (to make) all nine equal, so that it wasn’t always the Creek and Babe nine and the west either for the overflow, “Mandell said.
Scott Rethlake, city golf manager, said creating continuity between the three courses is a priority.
âYou can tell that things were developed and built at different times. It’s an effort to make it more cohesive, âsaid Rethlake, adding that the course will be redesignedâ so everyone wants to play those three nines â.
The projects would be spread over five to ten years. Denver is still collecting feedback from people to determine what will go into the master plan before it goes to city council for review. The cost of the renovations has not been determined.
The West nine is considered the easiest of the three (depending on who you ask), and the Babe Lind nine is its more difficult sibling. The stream is a bit shorter than the three, but it’s narrow and requires precise shots.
âDue to budget constraints, we cannot build everything at the same time. But we can design it all at the same time, âMandell said.
Some of the other changes that Mandell mentioned would be placing bunkers in the middle of the fairways rather than on the sides, which would require players to strategize more than “grab and tear it”.
Some of the goals of the master plan include updating the course infrastructure, making the course greener and improving safety by separating the holes farther from each other.
Mandell said the renovations are necessary because golf courses have a lifespan of around 30 years before needing at least soil replacement and other improvements due to drainage issues.
âIn any case, we’re not completely tearing up the whole place. It’s not part of our plan, âMandell said. âBut what we are thinking is how to best use the features. On the New Creek I’m thinking about how best to use Cherry Creek. We don’t bother Cherry Creek, but maybe change things up for Cherry Creek.
The course will never be completely closed, Mandell said, adding that at least 18 holes will be playable while one of the nine is reconfigured.
City Councilor Kendra Black, who represents the southeast corner of Denver, said she may not be a golfer, but is eager to see some of Kennedy’s characteristics revised.
âI really want a new clubhouse, more like the one in City Park, and a putt-putt refresh,â Black told BusinessDen. âFor years, community members have advocated for these improvements. The course itself has a lot of cool features but is very old. Many features date back to 1963.
The next golf course master plan meeting will be on October 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Hebrew Educational Alliance, 3600 S. Ivanhoe St.
One of Denver’s largest golf course renovations was completed in 2019 at City Park near the Denver Zoo. The $ 45 million project completely redesigned the golf course and built a new 11,000 square foot lodge, about 15 years after the city built a lodge at the corner of 26th Avenue and York Street.