It’d been almost two years since anyone had driven a golf ball off of Thorncreek Golf Course’s first tee, but that’s set to change. Head Pro Chris Swinhart said that golfers getting on the …
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It’d been almost two years since anyone had driven a golf ball off of Thorncreek Golf Course’s first tee, but that’s set to change.
Head Pro Chris Swinhart said that golfers getting on the course this month should find it more fun, with wider fairways, more consistent bunkers and greens and more thoughtful landscaping after the $7 million renovations.
“The big thing for us is that we’ve got new grass from tee to green,” Swinhart said. “The tees, fairways and greens are all new. The fairways are wider, so the golf course will be much more family-friendly and playable for everybody.”
Closed in October 2016, the course is set to reopen to the public this Sunday, July 22. The first day of tee times are already spoken for, Swinhart said. They have been for a while.
“That’s 32 teams of four players, all spoken for,” he said. “We opened it up for registration online on July 8 and they were sold out, spoken for, by 10 a.m.”
Those won’t be the first rounds played, however. The course opened Monday, July 16 for a charity event, followed by a week of practice events to help get the staff up to speed.
“Tuesday we scheduled a city employee day, Wednesday is a senior league, Thursday mens’ league and Friday we have a shotgun tournament,” Swinhart said. “These are all soft openings, so we can really make sure we are ready when we first open to the public.”
When the course closed in 2016, it had earned a reputation for difficult but generic play.
“We were kind of the Walmart of golf,” he said. “I hate to put that out there, but it’s true. We were pretty poor quality and our customer service wasn’t very good.”
Different greens had different kinds of grass and different kinds of construction, making them inconsistent across the course. Bunkers were angled in such a way that rains storms would overflow them, spilling sand into the fairways and on to the greens.
The Big Dry Creek, which meanders through the front nine holes ranged from precipitous drops to fenced-in enclosures. Neither were very inviting to stray golf balls.
“Now it’s nice native grasses, cut back a little bit,” he said. “We didn’t want anybody in there anyway, so we had split rail fences running across it. So we removed I-don’t-know-how-many miles of split rail and now it’s actually part of the natural layout of the golf course.”
Every hole has been replanted with new consistent grasses but five holes have been completely redesigned, especially the 16th fairway. The new design for that hole does away with a drainage ditch that crossed the fairway, creating a less frustrating tee shot. The green has been moved farther away to create a more inviting approach.
Another big change is the addition of forward tees to all of the holes. It’s an innovation being promoted by the PGA and USGA that lets golfers start from a place more in line with their actual abilities.
It encourages speedier play and is a little more forgiving for average players,
“You want difficulty, but you want people to play no matter their ability level,” he said. “You can’t just cater to the best players. It’s all part of taking our facility to the next level so we can better compete with what’s around us. And really, we needed to be cleaned up. We needed to be cleaned up and we needed to reinvest in drainage and irrigation and just make things better.”
The new course also includes greatly expanded practice areas. A 12,000 square foot putting range wraps around the clubhouse, providing plenty of space for golfers to practice their skills. The driving range is bigger too, with a 320 square foot tee area and dedicated target areas that look more like putting greens.
The clubhouse itself is greatly expanded and improved, with a new all-weather patio that has great views of the golf course and the mountains.
“We are trying to bring the community, the City of Thornton back to us,” he said. “We want to have something to offer, not just to golfers, but our homeowners and residents and everyone beyond.”
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