Back in the Swing

Sites for 2023 CGA championships will span the state; among stops will be CGA Amateur at new RainDance National; 2 USGA championships and a full schedule of qualifiers also in place 

By Gary Baines – 2/24/2023

Colorado certainly isn’t lacking for variety when it comes to topography. You have the mountains for which the state is so well known, but there’s also the high plains in the east, desert canyons and mesas in the west, rangeland in the northwest, etc.

In 2023, CGA championships will pretty much span the state, visiting all the above. 

There will be the Western Chapter Championship in the west, at Battlement Mesa in Parachute, as well as the Parent-Child, at River Valley Ranch in Carbondale, and the Women’s Dunham Chapman, at Eagle Ranch in Eagle; the Mid-Amateur in the northwest, at Haymaker in Steamboat Springs; the Women’s Senior Stroke Play in the northeast, at Eaton Country Club; the Super-Senior Amateur in the southeast, at Pueblo Country Club; the Women’s Mashie in the north central (Highland Meadows in Windsor and The Olde Course at Loveland); the Women’s Team Stableford in the high country closest to Denver, at Hiwan in Evergreen; and, of course, quite a few events in the Denver-Boulder metro area.

Registration for men’s CGA championships will open on March 15 at 8 a.m., while the women’s sign-ups — for a few selected events — also will begin that day. Other women’s registration windows vary according to the championship.

Here are some of the highlights of the CGA championship schedules:

— RainDance National in Windsor, which opened just last summer, will get one of its first tests in a big-time event with a formidable field when it hosts the CGA Amateur July 27-30. RainDance, the longest course in North America as it can stretch to 8,463 yards from the tips, was awarded a silver medal for best public courses that opened in 2022 by Later, Golf Digest gave the arroyo-filled layout second place among best new public courses. Earlier in this season — on May 8 — the Colorado PGA will play its Pro-Pro-Pro Championship at RainDance, while a Jun 26 CPGA pro-am is also set at the venue.

Columbine Country Club, site of the 1967 PGA Championship, will be where the titles for the CGA Match Play and Women’s Match Play are decided.

— As for the oldest championships on the CGA schedule — the men’s Match Play (first held in 1901) and the Women’s Match Play (1916) — they’ll conclude at one of the top clubs in the state, Columbine Country Club, which hosted the 1967 PGA Championship. That continues a trend as Colorado Golf Club (2021) and The Broadmoor (2022) did the honors in the previous years since the two events have been held concurrently and at the same sites. CGA-owned-and-operated CommonGround Golf Course once again will host pod play for the events (June 11-14) before the quarterfinals, semifinals and 36-hole finals move to Columbine June 15-16.

Assuming they enter, Connor Jones of Westminster will shoot for his third consecutive win in men’s open-age CGA majors, while Leigha Devine of Windsor will aim for her third straight CGA Women’s Match Play title. No one has won three straight in that event since Marcia Bailey in 1965-67.

Columbine has hosted the CGA Match Play just once before — in 1957, a couple of years after the club opened. The only previous Women’s Match Plays held at Columbine were in 1958 and ’70. 

Unfortunately, the Inspirato Colorado Women’s Open, which typically draws the top female amateurs from the state as well as a formidable pro field, will be contested on dates that conflict with the Women’s Match Play this year. The CWO, which typically concludes in early June, this year is set for June 14-16 at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club. It moved its dates to stay away from being held the same week as an Epson Tour event (this year, a new Epson tournament is being held June 2-4 in North Carolina). The Epson Tour, a feeder circuit for the LPGA Tour, typically sees quite a few of its players compete in the CWO.

— As for the CGA’s other women’s open-age major of 2023, the Women’s Stroke Play — along with the Mid-Amateur Stroke Play — will be contested July 5-7 at Black Bear Golf Club in Parker. Kelsey Webster of Boulder, who’s playing her final semester of college golf at Oregon State, won the Women’s Stroke Play title in 2022, while former Colorado Women’s Open champ Erin Houtsma ran away with the Mid-Am crown.

In the early fall, the CGA Mid-Amateur will be contested at Haymaker in Steamboat Springs.

— With its Haymaker venue in 2023, the CGA Mid-Amateur (Sept. 29-Oct. 1) will continue to be held at sites far and wide, as it has for the last quarter century or so. Host courses at least 100 miles from Denver since 1997 include Grandote Peaks in La Veta (1997), Haymaker in Steamboat Springs (2000), Roaring Fork Club in Basalt (2003), Haymaker (2005), Red Sky in Wolcott (2007), River Valley Ranch in Carbondale (2009), Red Sky (2011), Eagle Ranch in Eagle (2012), River Valley Ranch (2014) and River Valley Ranch (2020).

— Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Kim Eaton will try to add to her record number of CGA women’s championship titles after standing at 28 heading into the 2023 season. As far as the CGA women’s senior majors go this year, the Senior Match Play is set for July 10-13 at Willis Case in Denver, and Eaton is still deciding if she’ll defend her title there. Then the Women’s Senior Stroke Play, which Eaton also won in 2022, is set for Aug. 15-16 at, appropriately enough, Eaton Country Club. Eaton grew up in the Greeley area — and served as a police officer in nearby Evans. The town of Eaton was named after her great-great grandfather, Benjamin Harrison Eaton, the fourth governor of Colorado.

Eaton Country Club is where Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Kim Eaton will defend her CGA Women’s Senior Stroke Play title. The town of Eaton was named after her great-great grandfather.

— The CGA State Junior Championship for open-division players will be contested via a mixture of stroke play and match play, as it was last year for the first time. This year’s junior major will be held June 26-30 at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora. Like many USGA amateur championships, the CGA State Junior features two rounds of stroke play, then match play the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, the schedule for the Colorado PGA’s four junior majors in 2023: the Aurora Junior Championship at Murphy Creek June 20-22; the Colorado Junior PGA Championship July 10-12 at Walnut Creek; the Colorado PGA Junior Match Play July 25-27 at Lake Valley; and the Colorado PGA Junior Invitational Oct. 7-8 at Denver Country Club. The CPGA Junior Match Play is new to the schedule this year.

The CGA and its volunteers also run the USGA qualifiers held in Colorado, so let’s look at some of the highlights there:

— First, it should be reiterated that two USGA championships will be conducted in Colorado in a calendar year for the first time since 2008. The U.S. Girls’ Junior is coming to the state for the first time since 1982 — and fourth time overall — as Eisenhower’s Blue Golf Course at the Air Force Academy does the honors July 17-22. It marks the first USGA championship for any U.S. military course. The Colorado-based qualifier for that event will take place June 20 at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

The U.S. Amateur will be contested in Colorado for the fifth time — and first since 2012 — as Cherry Hills Country Club hosts Aug. 14-20, with Colorado Golf Club in Parker serving as the second course for the stroke-play portion of the event. Normally, two U.S. Am qualifiers are held in Colorado each year. This summer, it will be three: at Columbine July 6, at CommonGround on July 18, and at a site and on a date to be determined. 

— This year’s U.S. Women’s Open will be a particularly special one as it’s being held at Pebble Beach Golf Links (July 6-9). The top finisher(s) at the 36-hole Colorado-based qualifier will be headed there. The Colorado-based qualifying tournament is set for June 1 at CommonGround.

— Two other Colorado-based final qualifiers for USGA “Open” championships also are set for this year. Cheyenne Shadows Golf Club in Fort Carson south of Colorado Springs will be the site of a U.S. Senior Open qualifier May 15. And the U.S. Senior Women’s Open will have its qualifier Aug. 1 at Eisenhower GC, just 10 days after the conclusion of the U.S. Girls’ Junior there. Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Jill McGill is expected to defend her title at the Senior Women’s Open, set for Aug. 24-27 in Portland, Ore.

— The two-stage U.S. Open qualifying process includes three local qualifying events in Colorado, but none of the final qualifiers. The locals: May 2 at Collindale in Fort Collins, May 9 at the Broadlands in Broomfield and May 11 at Walnut Creek in Westminster. Collindale has hosted a U.S. Open local qualifier since 2003.

Final qualifying in America for the U.S. Open will take place May 22 (one event) and June 5 (9 tournaments).

— As for Colorado qualifying for individual USGA amateur championships — besides the aforementioned U.S. Amateur and U.S. Girls’ Junior — that for the U.S. Women’s Amateur is June 21 at Walnut Creek; for the U.S. Junior Am it’ll be June 22 at Thorncreek; for the U.S. Senior Am July 24 at Greeley Country Club; and for the U.S. Mid-Amateur Aug. 3 at CommonGround and Aug. 9 at Murphy Creek. That’s twice the number of U.S. Mid-Am qualifiers held in the state last year. Meanwhile, qualifiers for the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and the U.S. Senior Women’s Am are still TBD.

Registration dates for USGA qualifiers in Colorado vary according to the event, but began Feb. 21 for U.S. Senior Open qualifying. All of the entries open beginning sometime in the later winter to mid-spring. 

For the championship and qualifying schedules, click on the following: CGA men’s championships, CGA women’s championships, Colorado-based USGA men’s qualifiers and Colorado-based USGA women’s qualifiers.

About the Author: Gary Baines owns and operates