With ultimate destiny of Park Hill Golf Club property still unclear following vote, we take a look at the course’s storied history covering roughly 90 years
By Gary Baines – 4/5/2023
The course at Park Hill Golf Club was never going to be confused with Augusta National Golf Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links or Pine Valley.
The northeast Denver-based course, located off Colorado Blvd., between 35th and 40th Ave., was in many ways not especially remarkable as a golf layout. But it will go down as a course with a storied history that hosted more than its share of celebrities over the decades.
We bring this up because the voters in Tuesday’s Denver municipal election rejected proposed redevelopment of the Park Hill Golf Club property. Park Hill GC has been closed since the end of 2018 — and the vote may result in the 155-acre property remaining open space of one type or another.
Exactly what the future holds for the land remains unsettled, with the possibility still alive of it returning to an operating golf course. Even a Topgolf has been mentioned by the developers. But several options could be explored, especially if Westside Investment Partners were to sell the property.
“The voters were not fooled by the false narrative that the land had to remain a golf course,” Harry Doby, treasurer of the No on 2O initiative, said in a statement to Westword late Tuesday. “Now, we look forward to the future of this land in working with a new (mayoral) administration. The possibilities are endless.”
Bill Rigler, a spokesman for Westside Investment Partners, told KDVR.com, “Right now, Westside is in the process of determining what those allowable uses would be and they’ll have that announcement in the next couple of weeks once they’re ready to share that news.”
With that as a backdrop, we decided to take a look back at the celebrity-filled history at the Park Hill course. Here are a handful of the memorable events held at PHGC since now-Colorado Golf Hall of Famer Robert Shearer founded the course in 1931:
Bob Hope at Park Hill Golf Club.
— For just over two decades beginning in 1936, the Park Hill Invitational that featured huge calcuttas — sometimes exceeding $100,000 — was a mainstay on the Denver golf calendar. Among those who played in the event were a who’s who of the entertainment and sports communities: Bob Hope, Babe Zaharias, Joe Louis, Bing Crosby, Dwight Eisenhower, Arnold Palmer and Phil Harris, among them.
— When Zaharias won an amazing 17 consecutive tournaments while living in the Denver area during the 1940s, she represented Park Hill Golf Club.
— Dave Hill — who along with Zaharias and Babe Lind were part of the first class of inductees of the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame — was one of the owners of Park Hill GC in the 1970s and early ’80s. Hill won 13 times on the PGA Tour from 1961-76, and claimed a record four Colorado Open titles.
— On June 4, 2000, Tiger Woods hosted his foundation’s junior golf clinic at Park Hill GC. What was notable about that timing? Woods was just about to begin his Tiger Slam, where he won four consecutive major championships — the the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship in 2000 and the Masters in 2001. Starting in late May of 2000 — just before the Park Hill clinic — Woods began a run of eight tournaments in which he won six times, including three majors. Yes, you read that right.
Maurice Allen and Troy Mullins claimed World Long Drive titles at Park Hill in 2017.
— Arguably the last national-scope event held at Park Hill GC came on July 24-25, 2017, when the Mile High Showdown World Long Drive competition — televised by the Golf Channel — paid a visit. Two men hit 485-yard drives, while a woman sent one 406 yards. Troy Mullins of Los Angeles claimed the women’s title, with Maurice Allen of Pine Hills, Fla., earning the men’s crown. Among the spectators at the event was Colorado Golf Hall of Famer — and then-Evergreen resident — Craig Stadler, who won 13 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1982 Masters.
But now we’re left to wonder: Is the storied history of Park Hill Golf Club just that: history? Or will there be another chapter?