Expansive new Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Museum at The Broadmoor starting to take shape as organization celebrates 50th anniversary; grand opening planned for spring
By Gary Baines – 2/9/2023
It was a “Hail Mary” play of sorts — one that is in the midst of being answered with a project that figures to become a must-see for those interested in Colorado golf.
In 2020, Mark Passey, who sits on the board of directors of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, was in the midst of a phone call with Jack Damioli, the president and general manager at the five-star resort that is The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Passey, a retired longtime USGA regional affairs director, primarily had two or three things in mind in chatting with Damioli, but as an aside, he planted the seed for something much bigger and long-lasting.
Passey originally had called to inquire about the possibility of The Broadmoor hosting the Hall of Fame’s induction dinner that year. That idea didn’t work out as the resort, at that time, was under many of the same Covid-19 restrictions as were facilities in the Denver metro area.
Then Passey broached the topic of The Broadmoor possibly hosting the Hall of Fame’s tournament and/or dinner in 2023, when the CGHOF is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In both cases, Damioli was very accommodating, saying The Broadmoor would be happy to do both.
“I said, ‘Jack you’re in a really good mood,’” Passey recalled in a recent phone conversation. “‘Is there any chance you’d consider The Broadmoor being the home of our (Colorado Golf Hall of Fame) museum?’ The phone went quiet. I thought he’d hung up on me. ‘Jack, are you still there?’ ‘Yeah, I am. That’s really an interesting idea. Let’s have another conversation about this.’
“I kind of hung up with the idea that we’re going to get the 2023 tournament and dinner. I’ll never hear another word on the museum. (But) about two weeks later, Russ (Miller, The Broadmoor’s longtime PGA director of golf) called me. He said, ‘Jack asked me to call you. Do you still want to talk to us about the museum?’ And there we go. That’s how we ended up where we are.
“Just that off-hand question — totally unrelated to the original reason I called. But my philosophy has always been, ‘The question you don’t ask, the answer is always no.’ So what’s the harm in asking?”
Fast forward almost three years — to now — and the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Museum at The Broadmoor is in the midst of becoming a reality. The project, anticipated to cost upward of $1.7 million, is under construction in the same building that houses The Broadmoor’s golf shop.
If everything goes close to plan, a grand opening is planned for the spring.
A considerably smaller version of the CGHOF Museum was located in the back of the clubhouse at the Riverdale Golf Courses in Brighton for more than 16 years. But the museum, which adds inductees every year (except this one), was running out of space and didn’t attract much foot traffic there. It was a visit to the Riverdale museum with Hall of Famer Maggie Giesenhagen that had Passey thinking about alternative locations for the ever-growing museum.
Now, the new museum will be located in a portion of the 3,500-square-foot, three-story lobby inside the entryway to The Broadmoor Golf Club, in addition to down an adjoining long hallway.
Passey — who is spearheading the project with considerable help from fellow CGHOF board members, executive director Jon Rizzi, board president Bob Webster, The Broadmoor, Nancy Woelfel (design/display) and numerous others — anticipates that the museum at The Broadmoor likely will be one of the most viewed golf museums in the country.
That’s due to a couple of different factors. The Broadmoor attracts a few hundred-thousand overnight guests each year, plus about another half-million who visit but aren’t staying in the hotel. The resort hosts a few hundred golf events a year and has about 350 golf members.
In addition, the CGHOF Museum will be free and open to the public on a self-guided basis.
“We are going to be the most seen golf museum in the world, I think,” Passey opined. “This is based on judgment, but if you look at the statistics that are available, it’s very likely to be true. And it’s free — and open to the public. …
“So if you just take that built-in traffic that’s already there (at The Broadmoor), that is a magnitude higher than the combined attendance of the World Golf Hall of Fame (in St. Augustine, Fla.) and the USGA Museum (in Far Hills, N.J.),” Passey said. “I worked at the USGA and if the USGA Museum got 35,000 visitors a year, that was a lot. I’ve been to the World Golf Hall of Fame twice and I felt like I was the only one there. Their attendance is lower than the USGA attendance. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and double what I think there were. We are three or four times that with just the building traffic that’s already going through that building” at The Broadmoor.
The plan is for overnight guests at The Broadmoor to receive notifications regarding the museum on the TVs in their hotel rooms, and many others at the resort undoubtedly will learn about it similarly while on site. So the hope is that anyone with an interest in Colorado golf and its history will pay a visit while at The Broadmoor, and select others in the state figure to come as the mood hits them.
The new museum will be full of not only information on the 147 people who the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame has inducted since 1973, but the history of Colorado golf in general over the last 136 years.
The lobby inside the golf club’s entryway will feature museum displays near the fireplace area and stairway, in addition to having large photos beside that impressive stairway. Then the 124-foot hallway that begins not far from the fireplace will be devoted to tributes to the Hall of Fame inductees, a timeline featuring highlights of the state’s golf history, and plenty of memorabilia and photos from the game since 1887.
In all, it’s expected that the museum will feature approximately 700 items at a given time, with roughly 200 of those being photographs, according to archivist Kate Burns.
A press conference was held in October 2021 detailing general plans for the project. In attendance then was Colorado Golf Hall of Famer — and World Golf Hall of Famer — Hale Irwin, who grew up in Boulder and graduated from the University of Colorado.
“Thousands of people come through here every year,” Irwin said then. “What better place to show off what Colorado golf has to offer?
“I can’t think of a better place in the wonderful state of Colorado than The Broadmoor to have the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame (museum),” Irwin also noted that day. “It’s been a lynchpin of golf throughout the history of golf in this state. And the brief discussions that we have had thus far lead me to the conclusion than there’s no better home than this.
“… I think this project is going to be dynamically done and successfully accomplished.”
The Broadmoor, founded in 1918, has been a prominent fixture in the state ever since. Golf-wise, the resort has hosted eight USGA championships, including two U.S. Amateurs (the first won by Jack Nicklaus), two U.S. Women’s Opens (the first won by Annika Sorenstam), one U.S. Women’s Amateur (won by Juli Inkster) and two U.S. Senior Opens, plus five men’s NCAA national championships. In addition, besides Irwin winning The Broadmoor Invitation title in 1967, fellow World Golf Hall of Famers Babe Zaharias and Judy Bell each won three Broadmoor Ladies Invitations. Next up for The Broadmoor, regarding major championships, will be the 2025 U.S. Senior Open.
Also, in recent years, The Broadmoor has hosted large-scale events such as the Century of Golf Gala (2015) and the inaugural Hale Irwin Dinner (2019).
“We’re so proud, we’re thankful, we’re honored to have this (Hall of Fame museum) come to our hotel and resort,” Miller, a Hall of Famer himself, said at the 2021 press conference. “I promise we’ll be great custodians and we’ll make it as good as it can be.”
The museum’s lobby area largely will be devoted to “the giants of the game, the people whose names are recognized by the golf community throughout the world — and their trophies and memorabilia,” Passey said.
With Dow Finsterwald, a longtime director of golf at The Broadmoor and a Colorado Golf Hall of Famer, having passed away in November, a prominent display case in the lobby area will be devoted to his memorabilia and photos for the first year or so of the new museum’s existence. Then the plan is to switch the case’s contents to a general U.S. Senior Open exhibit — loaned by the USGA — for the year or so leading up to the 2025 U.S. Senior Open that The Broadmoor will host. New material will continue to be rotated into the case on roughly an annual basis. For instance, likely future displays in that case will be tributes to Irwin and Babe Zaharias, who resided in Edgewater for several years during her golf heyday in the 1940s.
Meanwhile, the five large photos beside the stairway in the lobby will focus on the achievements of some of the more prominent members of the Hall of Fame: Jill McGill (winner of the 2022 U.S. Senior Women’s Open as well as two USGA amateur championships in the 1990s); Judy Bell (a member of The Broadmoor and the first female USGA president) presenting the U.S. Open trophy in 1996 to Steve Jones, who grew up in Colorado; Dale Douglass winning the 1986 U.S. Senior Open; Craig Stadler being presented his green jacket at the 1982 Masters; and a photo of several members of the winning 1964 U.S. Curtis Cup team that featured four current Hall of Famers: Carol Sorenson Flenniken, Nancy Roth Syms, Barbara McIntire and Tish Preuss.
The first part of the hallway portion of the museum will be devoted to the 147 portraits of the Colorado Golf Hall of Famers, all backlit and etched, with cherrywood cabinets across the hallway featuring their memorabilia. As the hallway turns, the timeline of Colorado golf history, from 1887 to present, will be featured, with some seminal moments in that history (think Arnold Palmer’s 1960 U.S. Open victory at Cherry Hills Country Club) getting particularly prominent displays. “It’s a really dramatic, beautiful wall,” Passey said.
And at the far end of the hallway, displays entitled “Colorado Takes on the World” and “Colorado Welcomes the World” take center stage. The latter includes major championships and other big-time golf happenings in Colorado, with the former focused on Coloradans who have brought recognition to Colorado by what they’ve accomplished elsewhere. Also near there, trophies from some of Colorado’s top state and regional tournaments will be housed — those from the Inspirato Colorado Open championships, CGA championships, the Rocky Mountain Open, etc.
Passey noted that with the 2022 deaths of Douglass and Finsterwald, the Hall of Fame and its new museum have been gifted their golf collections. And there are distinctive collections from others as well.
“We’re going to be able to keep the memory of the great things those guys did alive and people will see it, instead of it being kind of hidden away,” he said. “It’s not so much about trying to break attendance records, but the exposure to the golf history of Colorado and the accomplishments of 147 people are going to be seen by more people than anywhere else that golf memorabilia is displayed,” he said.
Passey, who worked 28 years for the USGA before retiring in 2017, has devoted uncounted hours — on a volunteer basis — to the museum project over the last couple of years. For him, it’s largely been a labor of love.
Asked about the time involved, Passey said, “The last few months, it’s been more than full time. The first year, I was involved in some of it every day but it might be an hour here or an hour there. But this doesn’t feel like work to me. It’s not like I’m punching a time clock. This is fun. I love to be creative and make projects happen and get it done. I don’t even think of it as work. I go into my office and go to work on it. I get in my car and go to Nancy (Woelfel’s) office or I go to The Broadmoor. It’s a lot of time, but I don’t want that to sound like a whine.
“I need something like this is my life. This is what I do. It’s always what I’ve done before this. Here’s something, let’s just make it happen and go to work. Let’s grind it out and get it finished. That’s my personality.
“It’s very satisfying. My goal when we started this was, ‘The Broadmoor is special, and I want to make this better than their standards.’ That’s just me.”
Of course, to fund a $1.7 million project is no small task. Several individuals have donated $250,000 each to the project. They and all other major donors will be recognized on the donor wall that will part of the new Colorado Golf Hall of Fame Museum.
Among those who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame — besides people previously mentioned here — are Dave Hill, Paul Runyan, Jack Vickers, Lauren Howe, Mark Wiebe, Brandt Jobe, Bob Byman, Bill Loeffler, Babe Lind, Ralph Moore, Will Nicholson Jr., Joan Birkland, Warren Smith, Vic Kline, Ed Dudley, Jim Haines, Les Fowler, Dick Phelps, Gene Miranda, Dennis Lyon and Ed Oldham.
In addition to the grand opening for the museum in the spring, the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame has two big events planned for The Broadmoor this year. Its tournament is set for July 6, and the 50th Anniversary Gala for Nov. 18. More information on those events will be forthcoming in the next few months.
For more information on the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame, visit its website by CLICKING HERE.
About the Author: Gary Baines owns and operates ColoradoGolfJournal.com