Colorado's Eisenhower Golf Club is Military Golf at Its Finest
By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Eisenhower Golf Club has 400 members, two 18-hole championship courses, an expansive driving range, a spacious short game area with three chipping and pitching greens, and two large putting greens. It sounds just like any other private golf facility, right?
Well, not exactly.
Located at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Eisenhower Golf Club — named after former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who took part in the course's dedication ceremony — is one of more than 60 golf facilities built on 56 Air Force bases across the globe. Play is exclusive to active duty military personnel, retired veterans, Department of Defense employees, and their guests.
The surrounds at Eisenhower Golf Club are impressive. The two Blue and Silver courses are nestled in the razorback foothills of the Rampart Range, offering spectacular mountain views and beautiful Colorado scenery throughout.
The Blue Course at Eisenhower Golf Club opened in 1959, and is the only original Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout in the state of Colorado and was named the top Department of Defense golf course by Travel + Leisure. It also became the first military golf course to host a USGA national championship when it welcomed 156 of the world’s top female golfers under the age of 19 for the U.S. Girls’ Junior this past summer.
Alongside the Blue is Eisenhower's Silver Course. Designed by Colorado architect, Frank Hummel, the Silver is the newer of the two Eisenhower courses and is shorter than the Blue Course, but makes up for its lack of length with fast, tricky greens, narrow fairways and many hazards.
Steve Wallace, a Quarter Century PGA of America Member and Eisenhower's General Manager for the past 13 years, is very proud of their achievements in hosting such a prestigious championship and looks forward to showing off their facility to the world in future events.
In fact, Eisenhower Golf Club hosts two dozen NCAA Division I college golf programs in a 54-hole tournament each September called the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational, named after the legendary coach and PGA of America Master Professional who led the Air Force golf program for 25 years and is now a member of the Air Force Athletics' Hall of Fame.
The team at Eisenhower Golf Club is chock full of PGA of America Golf Professionals, including Wallace, PGA Director of Golf Theo Gregory, who runs the club's member events, and PGA Teaching Professionals John Trujillo Jr. and Mark Kelbel, who handle the majority of the lessons and player development initiatives.
That programming includes two large junior camps each summer that have over 50 junior golfers between the ages of 7-17, as well as three PGA Jr. League teams. As with your traditional club down the street, the PGA of America Golf Professionals at Eisenhower Golf Club are growing the game now and preparing the next generation of golfers for high school and collegiate competition. They also have a local high school golf team that uses the facilities as its home course, furthering the relationship with junior golf in the Colorado PGA Section.
Wallace says they host roughly 40 outside events annually, including a large tournament with Folds of Honor, an organization that provides scholarships to spouses and children of fallen or disabled military veterans.
“We do some outside tournament play,” Wallace says, “mostly charity events, 95 percent of which are military-based.”
They also host 12 member events, including a huge Member-Guest tournament that welcomes over 100 competitors to the facility.
The club hosts a variety of non-golf-related banquets, including 17 of them between late November and the middle of December. Between holiday parties, cadet functions, retirement parties, promotion ceremonies, and funerals, it’s clearly a busy time at a bustling and busy golf club.
Wallace and his food and beverage team also supply food to Mitchell Hall, the cadet dining area that is famous for serving 4,000 cadets in 30 minutes. And you thought the staff at your club was ready and on the ball!
Finally, Eisenhower Golf Club has a stellar golf shop with high-end labels such as Peter Millar, TravisMathew, and FootJoy. Led by long-time buyer, Phil Trujillo, the club’s retail space serves the diverse needs of its members, guests, and students.
“Phil’s a brilliant buyer who knows every rep,” Wallace declares.
Tasked with stocking the shop for the 156 USGA Girls' Junior competitors last summer, Trujillo sold virtually everything he brought in, with little, if anything left over at the completion of the event.
We hear it often, and it applies at Eisenhower as well, teamwork and collaboration make a successful golf club. If you have the opportunity to visit and play the two courses at Eisenhower Golf Club, you’re lucky. It’s an exclusive facility with a very special clientele and one that deserves the best.