The final day. Day 4 (Monday) of the big Colorado golf blogger trip with Jay Flemma and pals:
We woke up early and drove from Sterling Colorado to Holyoke. Holyoke Colorado is about 12 miles west of the Colorado/Nebraska border, right in the middle of corn country. There are huge corn fields and gigantic storage silos everywhere.
From Holyoke we drove through about 15 miles of corn fields on dirt farming roads. A person could easily get lost in the maze of fields and dirt roads we were on. There was no way a world class golf course could be in the middle of this area, no way.
I didn’t know what to expect at the clubhouse. The clubhouse at Pradera was massive, and finely appointed. Would this clubhouse dwarf that one? Would it have gold plated toilet seats? No. The clubhouse was actually a fairly small, conservative building. The clubhouse was functional and reminded you why you were there, for golf.
When we pulled up into the circle in front of the clubhouse they told us to just leave our cars parked in front and leave the keys in them. I figured some kind of “valet” would park them for us. Nice idea but that wasn’t the case. This course is so exclusive and so remotely located, that our cars were simply left there. There were 4 cars parked at the course all day, 3 of them were from our group.
We changed shoes in the tiny locker room and then met our caddies at the practice green. We hit a few putts, drank some coffee and had some chit chat about the course. Our buddy and Ballyneal club member Adam Clayman gave us some good info and trivia about the course during our warm up and throughout the round.
We hit 3-4 balls off the first tee to some rolling hills for our range session, then teed off. I was worried about making my flight back home that day because we were playing as a 5-some and walking with caddies.
I pushed my first drive but there was a hidden section of fairway you couldn’t see from the first tee which my ball found. I hit a solid 9-iron to about 15 feet right of the pin where I then drained my birdie putt in front of the 4 other players and 4 caddies. That one-putt would be the story of the day for me as I was completely unconscious with the putter. I was draining putts from everywhere. I can’t remember missing any putts under 10 feet all day. Not only that, the putts were all center cut.
This special round on the coolest course I’ve played was highlighted be an ace by our playing partner and buddy Eddie Peck on the 5th hole. Eddie made history by recording his first ace of his golfing career and Ballyneal’s first ace as well.
I managed to stay out of trouble on the front and had one birdie and one bogey for even par. It was like a dream playing great golf on a world class course with a caddie and a great group of playing partners. It was really refreshing to walk a course without having to carry my bag with my bad back. Some day if I’m rich enough (after making millions on my golf sites) I’ll have my own personal caddie.
I caught some of the rough bunkers on the back and missed a few greens. I was actually happy to get in some of those awesome, Beth Page Black looking bunkers. Those bunkers, along with the rest of the way the course took advantage of the terrain were very cool. Designer Tom Doak has an amazing way of blending the course with the rough terrain and making them naturally come together.
I ended up shooting 5 over on the back for a +5 round on the day (76). I’d take a 96 on Ballyneal any time and be happy just because I was there.
After the round Eddie bought us all a beer and we had some lunch out on the back patio of the clubhouse. The chef cooked up lunch for everyone and we reminisced about the great day and the ace by Eddie.
The reminiscing was cut short a bit by my need to get to the Denver airport. We were a 2.5-3 hour drive from Denver so Eddie and I took off for a long drive.
On the drive back Eddie and I had some great discussion about golf courses and I got a real nice 2 hour inside scoop on what it’s like to own a golf course. Eddie is the owner of Black Mesa GC in New Mexico. I got all sorts of interesting nuggets about course maintenance, working with employees, digging wells and much more. There’s a definite blog post brewing there so stay tuned.
I caught my flight home on time after Eddie dropped me off at the curbside. I was the one who rented the car but Eddie was cool enough to drop the car off for me to be sure I’d catch my plane. I hope he didn’t drive the rental car to Mexico… hehe.
I shot 441 pictures on this golf trip. They can all be found HERE in the HOG Photo Gallery.