Golf fans of all ages are turning out in droves this week to catch all the action and even pose with the Alfred Bourne Trophy. (Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)
Local Knowledge: Colorado Golf Club and the Senior PGA
Excitement travels a little faster in Colorado – maybe you can chalk it up to that thin air. With that, Colorado Golf Club PGA Head Professional Graham Cliff couldn’t be more thrilled for this week’s 71st edition of the Senior PGA Championship, which tees off on Thursday and features the likes of defending champion Michael Allen and Champions Tour star-studded rookies Fred Couples, Corey Pavin and Paul Azinger. Our T.J. Auclair caught up with Cliff for the inside scoop on what we can expect and was shocked to learn, among other things, a rumor he heard was confirmed and the course was blanketed in snow just a week and a half ago!
T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer, PGA.com
PGA.com: Thanks for joining us, Graham. The time has finally come and it’s Senior PGA Championship Week at Colorado Golf Club. Can you tell me what the level of excitement is like there?
Cliff: The excitement is unbelievable. The members can't wait to see how the top players in the world play the golf course they play every day. As a staff we have been gearing up for almost two years and can't wait for the hard work to pay off when the tournament starts.
PGA.com: Being a New England native, I’m used to wacky weather. But what I’m about to tell you even caught me off guard. A friend of mine out there told me you actually had snow on the course recently. Is that true? I don’t believe it. On the bright side, the extended forecast for Parker, Colo., for the championship looks absolutely spectacular.
Cliff: Yes it’s true! We were closed (a week ago) last Thursday and Friday with snow. Can you believe it? And yes the forecast looks good. We have definitely been paying attention to the long-term forecast. There is nothing we can do about the weather beside cross our fingers.
[Editor’s note: The weather will not be an issue, as the extended Parker, Colo., forecasts calls for temperatures in the mid-to-high 70s.]
PGA.com: A major championship always brings out a star-studded field. But there are some big-time studs making their Champions Tour major championship debut at your course – the likes of Fred Couples and Paul Azinger. Safe to say we’re in for a great show?
Cliff: Absolutely. Fred has had an unbelievable start to his senior career and with how he has played on both tours this year. With guys like Paul, you’re getting to see great players and Ryder Cup captains. I feel we are very privileged to have these guys make their Senior PGA Championship debut at our club.
PGA.com: What’s your favorite hole on the course and why?
Cliff: My favorite hole at the club is No. 16. It’s a reachable par 5 with a split fairway off of the tee. This gives the players two options off the tee. A tee shot down the left side offers a wider landing area, but will leave a longer second shot. If the players challenge the right side they will have a much shorter second shot. It will be exciting to watch with most of the field able to reach in two if they hit a good drive. The green is very difficult with subtle breaks making it a great, short par 5.
PGA.com: Final question, Graham. What style of player – long hitter, shot-maker, scrambler, etc. – does Colorado Golf Club most favor?
Cliff: I think the course sets up best for the true shot-maker that can use his imagination around the greens. Length will also be important with the course playing over 7,600 yards. As in any tournament, the player who putts the best usually wins.