On the Horizon

Notable events and dates that await us in Colorado golf in 2023

By Gary Baines – 1/12/2023

The year 2023 promises to be a big one in Colorado golf — whether you’re a tournament contestant, a fan, an organizer, or simply a casual observer.

In fact, at least from the vantage point of January looking forward, there’s more big things on the horizon, golf-wise, than is typical for the Centennial State heading into a new calendar year.

Here are some of the key and/or notable events on the Colorado golf horizon for 2023, plus a smattering of upcoming milestones regarding big happenings that took place in Colorado golf:

— Speaking of which, the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023, having been founded in 1973, when Babe Zaharias, Dave Hill and Babe Lind comprised the first class of inductees. In conjunction with this golden jubilee, the currently-under-construction new CGHOF museum will debut at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. The grand opening of the stellar display of Colorado golf — past, present and future — is tentatively set for a mid-April date. Besides that, two related events will take place at the five-star Broadmoor resort this year — the Hall of Fame golf tournament on July 6 and the CGHOF 50th anniversary gala on Nov. 18. Over the last 50 years, 147 people have been inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.

The Colorado Golf Hall of Fame inductees who gathered in August at Columbine CC. (Photo: Jamie Schwaberow/Clarkson Creative Photography)

— For the first time in more than two decades, the Colorado Golf Expo (or the Denver Golf Expo, as it was previously known) will be under new ownership as Pueblo native Kevin Morton purchased the show on Nov. 30 from Mark and Lynn Cramer, who had owned and run the Expo since 2000. Morton’s first Expo — with the Cramers providing some support in this transition year — will be Feb. 17-19 at the Colorado Convention Center (Hall F). For more information, CLICK HERE.

— In 2023, Colorado will host two USGA championships in the same calendar year — a first since 2008, and just the second time in the last 30 years. In fact, that’s only happened seven times previously, with 1982 being the busiest USGA championship year in Colorado ever, as the U.S. Women’s Amateur (The Broadmoor), the Curtis Cup (Denver CC), the U.S. Girls’ Junior (Greeley CC) and U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur (Kissing Camels) came to the state.

This year’s Centennial State lineup features two events in about a month, with the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Eisenhower’s Blue Course July 17-22 and the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club Aug. 14-20 (with Colorado Golf Club serving as the second course for the stroke-play portion of the event). Cherry Hills, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, will be hosting its Colorado-record 10th USGA championship, while Eisenhower will be the first military course to host any USGA championship.

The CGA will serve as a “host group” for the event, partnering with the USGA in many respects, most notably fundraising.

The U.S. Amateur, which features a 312-player field, will be coming to Colorado for the fifth time — and first since 2012 — with Jack Nicklaus’ victory at The Broadmoor in 1959 and Phil Mickelson’s win at Cherry Hills in 1990 being the most notable in terms of big-name champions. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Girls’ Junior has been held three times in Colorado — in 1957 at Lakewood Country Club, 1965 at Hiwan Golf Club in Evergreen and in 1982 at Greeley Country Club.

As far as Colorado-based qualifying for those USGA championships, for the U.S. Girls’ Junior it will be June 20 at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs. And instead of the usual two U.S. Am qualifiers in the state, there will be three in 2023, two of which have dates and sites at this point: July 6 at Columbine Country Club in Columbine Valley and July 18 at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora.

The new RainDance National in Windsor, host of the 2023 CGA Amateur.

— This year will feature some out-of-the-ordinary host courses for big CGA and Colorado PGA championships. The CGA Amateur will be contested July 27-30 at RainDance National in Windsor, which opened last year and features the longest golf course in North America, possibly stretching to 8,463 yards from the tips. recently gave RainDance National a silver medal for best public courses that opened in 2022. Meanwhile, the Colorado PGA Professional Championship ventures to the Western Slope, with River Valley Ranch in Carbondale doing the honors Sept. 18-20. Senior golfers — those over the age of 50 — have won the CPGA Professional Championship eight of the last 10 years.

As for the CGA’s other open-age championships, the CGA Match Play and Women’s Match Play, held concurrently at the same sites, are set for June 11-16 — at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora before the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals are held at Columbine Country Club, which hosted the 1967 PGA Championship. There, assuming they enter, Connor Jones of Westminster will shoot for his third consecutive win in men’s open-age 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. 

A site and date for the CGA Women’s Stroke Play haven’t yet been announced.

For the still-in-the-works — and tentative — schedules for 2023 CGA championships, click on MEN or WOMEN. For the Colorado PGA’s tentative lineup, CLICK HERE.

— Under the category of new tournament dates, both the Korn Ferry Tour’s Ascendant presented by Blue and the Inspirato Colorado Women’s Open will be held a little later on the calendar than usual.

The Ascendant, formerly known as the TPC Colorado Championship, has previously always concluded in the first half of July, but this year it’s set for July 13-16 at TPC Colorado in Berthoud. The event ended on July 3 in 2022. The qualifier — possibly one of two — for this year’s event is scheduled for Highland Meadows in Windsor on July 10.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Women’s Open, featuring a $250,000 purse and a $100,000 first prize, is scheduled for June 14-16 at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in northeast Denver. Last year, the event concluded on June 3, with an early June finish having been typical in recent years.

The reason for the CWO dates change, according to Kevin Laura, CEO of the Colorado Open championships, is that there is an Epson Tour event during the CWO’s traditional date slot. Because the Women’s Open features quite a few players who regularly compete in Epson events, the thinking is that moving the CWO to dates open for the Epson will help the strength of field at GVR. Laura said the CWO will move back to its usual dates in 2024 — opposite the U.S. Women’s Open.

Meanwhile, the Inspirato Colorado Open (July 20-23) and the Colorado Senior Open (Aug. 23-25) will be held in schedule slots similar to what is typical.

— Colorado once again will play host to a record-tying three AJGA tournaments in 2023, with events set for the Centennial State on consecutive weeks in June. The AJGA Colorado Junior at Walnut Creek is set for June 6-8, while the Colorado Springs Junior presented by Centura Health is scheduled for June 13-15 at King’s Deer Golf Club in Monument, and the AJGA Junior Open at The Bridges, presented by the City of Montrose, will be Aug. 1-3.

The name has been tweaked for the AJGA Colorado Junior at Walnut Creek, which previously featured the name of World Golf Hall of Famer — and former University of Colorado athlete — Hale Irwin attached to it.

Sophia Capua of Aurora won the girls 14-15 chip competition at the 2022 Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals. Two Coloradans will compete in the nationally televised 2023 event at Augusta National.

— A year after a record four Coloradans competed in the Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals at Augusta National, three juniors from the Centennial State will do likewise in the nationally televised April 2 event: Jacob Eagan of Castle Rock and Koehn Kuenzler of Cortez (both in boys 7-9 division) and Brady Shaw of Pueblo (boys 10-11). Eagan and Shaw qualified in a regional at Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock, while Kuenzler did so at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Ariz. Sophia Capua of Aurora won the chip portion of the 2022 National Finals for the girls 14-15 division.

— On the “maybe” end of things, will 2023 be the year that Bernhard Langer matches or surpasses the once-seemingly-untouchable record of 45 victories posted on PGA Tour Champions by Colorado Sports Hall of Famer Hale Irwin? Langer, 65, recorded victory No. 44 in November.

— Barring the unforeseen, two players with strong Colorado ties will defend national titles during 2023. That would be Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Jill McGill in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open Aug. 24-27 in Portland, and Matt Schalk, PGA general manager at Colorado National, Oct. 24-29 in the national Senior PGA Professional Championship in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Speaking of Schalk, he’ll be one of four Colorado PGA members competing in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, a PGA Tour Champions major, May 25-28 in Frisco, Texas. That will be the first major contested at the new home of the PGA of America. The other Coloradans set to tee it up there: Doug Rohrbaugh of Carbondale, Micah Rudosky of Cortez and David Arbuckle of Colorado Springs.

— The second CGA State Junior Championship — a hybrid of the Junior Match Play and Junior Stroke Play of past years — will be held June 26-30 at CommonGround Golf Course in Aurora for open division players.

Kim Eaton, the Colorado Golf Hall of Famer who last year notched a record 26th CGA women’s championship title, will defend her CGA Women’s Senior Stroke play victory Aug. 15-16 at, appropriately enough, Eaton Country Club. After three CGA victories in 2022, she enters the new year with 28 CGA titles.

Jennifer Kupcho, the first Colorado native to win an LPGA Tour major,  will defend her title after the Chevron Championship moved from its longtime site, Rancho Mirage, Calif., to The Woodlands, north of Houston. The 2023 Chevron Championship is set for April 20-23 at The Club at Carlton Woods.

— Another Colorado native, Wyndham Clark, will try to notch his first PGA Tour victory before turning 30 on Dec. 9.

Hadley Ashton of Erie, just the third freshman since 2002 to claim a girls state high school title in Colorado, will try to keep alive her hopes of becoming the first four-time individual Colorado state champion in high school golf when the girls tournaments are held May 30-31. Ashton’s Erie HS will host the 4A state meet at Thorncreek Golf Course in Thornton. (The 5A tournament is set for Black Bear and the 3A for Aspen Golf Club.) The only other freshmen to win girls state high school titles in the Centennial State in the last two decades are Holy Family’s Hailey Schalk (2017) and Eaglecrest’s Emma Bryant (2018).


As for some key anniversaries we’ll celebrate in Colorado golf in 2023, here are some of the big ones — in addition to the aforementioned 50th anniversary of the founding of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame:

— 75 Years Ago (1948)

* Ben Hogan won the Denver Open at Wellshire Golf Course, marking his sixth consecutive victory on the PGA Tour and one of his 10 wins in 1948, including the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. But interestingly, Bantam Ben failed to show up for the trophy presentation as he apparently didn’t feel his 18-under-par 270 total would be good enough to earn the triumph. “I can’t win,” he said before departing shortly after the conclusion of his final round.

* Babe Zaharias, the former track & field standout who lived in the Denver area for a good portion of the 1940s, won the first of her three U.S. Women’s Open titles for the period from 1948 until ’54. Zaharias was part of the first class of inductees of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.

* Charlie Coe, one of the great lifelong amateurs of the 20th century, won the second of two straight Broadmoor Invitation championships. Coe, a member at Castle Pines Golf Club late in his life, went on to capture U.S. Amateur titles in 1949 and ’58, and he lost in the 1959 Amateur finals to Jack Nicklaus at The Broadmoor. 

— 50 Years Ago (1973)

* Bob Byman, living in Boulder at the time, won his third consecutive CGA Stroke Play (an event now called the CGA Amateur), matching a feat of another then-Boulder resident, Hale Irwin, from the 1960s. In Byman’s case, the victories came at ages 16 through 18. Also during that period, Byman won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1972 and a state high school individual title (while with Fairview) in 1973. Byman was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2008.

* Warren Smith, the longtime PGA head professional at Cherry Hills Country Club, was named the national Golf Professional of the Year by the PGA of America. Smith went into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 1978.

* Tom Purtzer, who went on to win five times on the PGA Tour, earned the Broadmoor Invitation title.

— 25 Years Ago (1998)

* Hale Irwin, the Boulder High School and University of Colorado alum, won the first of two U.S. Senior Opens in a three-year period.

* The Broadmoor hosted the biennial PGA Cup matches, which features the top club pros from the U.S. and Great Britain and Ireland. The Americans prevailed 17-9.

— 10 Years Ago (2013)

* The Solheim Cup, the female version of the Ryder Cup, is held in the western U.S. for the first time, at Colorado Golf Club. The event marked the first time Europe prevailed in the event at a U.S. site. The 18-10 margin remains the largest in the history of the event.

* Mark Wiebe, a Colorado resident at the time, won the Senior British Open, out dueling Bernhard Langer in a playoff that lasted five holes. It was Wiebe’s first victory in a major championship — senior division or otherwise. Wiebe was inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.