Palmer Storms Back to Win
It was the 1960 U.S. Open. Heading into the final round on Sunday, Mike Souchak was atop the leaderboard with Arnold Palmer trailing by seven strokes. Palmer astounded the gallery by driving the first hole, a 346-yard par-4, then playing a stellar round of 65. Ben Hogan watched his round unravel at the par 5-17th when his second shot spun off the island green into the water resulting in a bogey. A triple bogey at 18 doomed his hopes for a record fifth Open title and Palmer hoisted the trophy celebrating what would be his only U.S. Open victory.
No stranger to hosting notable tourneys, Cherry Hills Country Club hosted the U.S. Open in 1938 and 1978, the 1941 and 1985 PGA Championship and the 1990 and 2012 U.S. Amateur. Phil Mickelson took first place honors in the 1990 U.S. Amateur, while Steven Fox was crowned champ in 2012. Jack Nicklaus hoisted the U.S. Senior Open trophy in 1993 and Birdie Kim won the U.S. Women's Open in 2005.
Cancelled by the PGA Tour in 2007 after 21 tournaments, The International at Castle Pines left a big divot in Colorado's professional golf landscape. Thankfully the 71st Senior PGA Championship in 2010, the U.S. Women's Open in 2011 and the Solheim Cup in 2013 helped fill that void. Revving up golf aficionados is the prestigious BMW Championship. “Cherry Hills welcomes the opportunity to once again showcase our course and to put Denver at the center of the golf world,” said John Elway, former Cherry Hills President. “An important component of our club’s rich heritage has been to offer a worthy venue for the world’s finest professional and amateur golfers. Hosting the 2014 BMW Championship reaffirms our commitment to opening our course for competition at the highest level.”
Beginning in 1899 as the Western Golf Association’s (WGA) first championship, this is America’s second oldest golf tournament—the U.S. Amateur Championship was first played in 1895. Once known as the Western Open, the BMW Championship bestows the J.K. Wadley Cup on the winner. The names of many of golf’s marquee players and legends are engraved on it, including Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Tom Watson and five-time winner Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy won in 2012 and Zach Johnson clinched the 2013 title firing a 6-under 65.
Over $17 Million in Scholarships
Since 2007, the BMW Championship has fueled the Evans Scholars Foundation, raising over $17 million with 100% of the proceeds from the tournament funding scholarships for caddies. Established in 1930 by notable amateur golfer Charles “Chick” Evans, the foundation has awarded college educations to over 10,000 qualified caddies, top students whose average GPA is above 3.2 and graduation rate is over 90 percent. These scholars are represented at 19 colleges and universities nationwide, including the University of Colorado. “Since the inception of the BMW Championship, one of our goals has been to help raise more money for the Evans Scholars Foundation,” explained Dan Creed, Vice President of Marketing, BMW of North America. “We are pleased to bring the BMW Championship experience to the Denver area and in turn, increase the support of the Evans Scholars Foundation in this community.” Cherry Hills has been a leading partner with the WGA in developing Evans Scholars candidates among its caddie ranks. Six caddies from the club are current Evans Scholars at the University of Colorado, and 32 Evans Scholars Alumni caddied at Cherry Hills.
Accuracy, Patience and Luck
Built in 1922, the William S. Flynn-designed course is slated to play at 7,466 yards and a par of 71. Though not Colorado's longest in terms of yardage (Cornerstone, The Broadmoor Mountain Course and Colorado Golf Club play to 7,945, 7,637 and 7,604 yards respectively), the track trounces players when given the opportunity. Conversely, it rewards players for keeping their ball in the relatively narrow fairways and on the surface of what will be extremely fast greens. Amplifying the challenge to players will be the rough, which could be like swinging through Velcro five inches high.
Historically, the par-3 Hole 8 is where Cherry Hills starts to show its teeth. Errant shots to the right on the 266-yarder bring Little Dry Creek into play. Playing 594 yards Hole 11 is the longest on the two nines. Only the longest hitters might reach this par 5 in two. A cross bunker about 100 yards from the green could spell disaster for that strategy, while a green severely sloped from back to front promises to confound players. Sixteen, 17 and 18 are some of the finest—and score impacting—finishing holes in golf.
“The BMW Championship was awarded ‘Best Tournament of the Year’ by the PGA in 2013, which speaks to the quality of the experience,” commented Kevin Hood, Cherry Hills’ General Manager. “It adds a twelfth championship to the Club’s remarkable tournament history. We look forward to large galleries witnessing 70 of the world’s best golfers do their best to overcome the courses’ time-tested defense
Cherry Hills Country Club
4125 S. University Blvd., Cherry Hills Village
The BMW Championship, a PGA Tour event; Sept. 1-7, 2014
Ticket Info: At press time, over 65% of tickets have been sold. Tickets range from single day practice round and tournament round ($25, $50, $75) to weekly badge ($225, $300). Holiday packs run $150. Juniors 16 and under receive free admission when accompanied by an adult. Special offers are given to active and retired military. For group tickets call 847-724-4600.
Tourney Info: Practice rounds are Tuesday 9/2; Gardner Heidrick Pro-Am is Wednesday 9/3; www.bmwchampionshipusa.com
Corporate Hospitality: Select hospitality options may remain; contact Matt Minella for remaining opportunities at 224-260-3791.
BMW Owner Perks: A BMW Pavilion, private parking and VIP Shuttle are available for those owning BMWs. Thurs., 9/4 is BMW Owner Day where BMW owners in attendance receive free admission for themselves and a guest when showing their BMW key fob.
Highlights: Only the 70 best PGA Tour players qualify for the tournament. All proceeds from the tourney benefit the Evans Scholars Foundation, which awards full tuition and housing college scholarships to caddies from modest means.
BIO: Kim D. McHugh, a Lowell Thomas award-winning writer and member of the Golf Writers Association of America, is a frequent contributor to Colorado Expression. His articles have appeared in SKI, RockyMountainGolf.com, Hemispheres, Luxury Golf & Travel, Nicklaus and Colorado AvidGolfer.
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