Page 1

finding his way He went from being Colorado’s most celebrated golf professional and the developer of Colorado Golf Club to a man with no income, no home and a family in crisis. In his own words, Mike McGetrick shares how the arc of his life produced a profound, positive and lasting lesson about faith, family, friendship and the importance of keeping life in balance.

as told to Jon Rizzi | portrait by Todd Langley 56

Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer


Visit Beautiful Saratoga, Wyoming For Your Summer Golf Getaway! Saratoga Golf Course is on the North Platte River with spectacular views of the Snowy Range. Tree lined holes, drives over the river, strategic bunkering and scenic vistas make this 9 hole course a hidden gem.

2012 Golf Events Women’s Golf Retreat

Tuesday, July 31st - Thursday, August 2nd

This 3 day event will be put on by Janet Lepera, rated one of the top 50 teachers in the country by Golf for Women Magazine. Retreat will include clinics on short game, iron play, fairway woods and driver as well as afternoon tournaments, breakfast and lunch daily, and lodging at the Saratoga Resort & Spa Registration Deadline: June 29th

Saratoga Open

Saturday, August 18th - Sunday, August 19th

This two day individual stroke play tournament is open to all amateurs with a valid handicap and PGA Professionals. There will be three amateur flights including a senior flight for golfers over 55. Total prize money will be over $6,000 based on a full field. Includes a BBQ dinner Saturday night. Registration Deadline: July 6th

Susan G. Komen Ladies’ Invitational Thursday, August 23rd

Tee-off at 1pm following lunch at the Saratoga Resort. 18 holes with a 2 person team format playing net best ball for the front 9 and net 2 person scramble for the back 9. Proceeds go to support Susan G. Komen Rally for the Cure. Ladies, be sure to visit our complete day spa or soak in our natural mineral hot springs. Registration Deadline: August 3rd

Visit us online or call the golf shop to register 307.326.5261 ext. 6

Mention our ad in Colorado Avid Golfer Magazine to receive a FREE tasting paddle of our freshly made microbrews from the Snowy Mountain Brewery.


riday April 9, 2010, started out as the kind of beautiful day I’d enjoyed ever since moving to Colorado 21 years earlier. My wife, Sara Anne, an LPGA professional, had gone to Mexico to teach golf, and I managed to get Laura, Lindsay, Leah, Michael and Matthew—the five of our six children who still lived at our Highlands Ranch home—off to school (our oldest, Leslie, was a sophomore at Montana State). After school, Laura, a senior at Arapahoe High planned to take the light rail with some friends to the Rockies home opener against the San Diego Padres. Our youngest son, Matthew, had a soccer game that afternoon, and I planned to attend. When I arrived that morning at Colorado Golf Club—which I’d founded with investors and partners in 2004 and opened in 2006—it looked as glorious as ever. In six weeks, our Bill Coore-Ben Crenshaw design would welcome the world’s best senior players and an estimated 30,000 people to the 2010 Senior PGA Championship. We were having a media gala on April 19, and Superintendent Tony Hartsock’s staff had already begun preparation. After playing the course, the press would gather for questions in the bubble dome that was supposed to serve as the temporary clubhouse until the permanent, 45,000-square foot permanent structure opened. But as of April 2010, the bubble

dome remained CGC’s hub—which was both symbolic and ironic, I guess, considering the “housing bubble” that had contributed to the recession freezing the capital required to complete the construction of the clubhouse. Speculation about the club’s finances had circulated since the economy imploded in early 2008. Rumors flew about bankruptcy and about the PGA pulling the event because we hadn’t built the clubhouse—none of which was true. We did get a temporary certificate of occupancy for the partially constructed clubhouse, and the event would go on as planned. We had every confidence that by showcasing our golf course to the world, membership and real estate inquiries—which had all but ceased since the downturn of 2008—would pick up again. In this regard, I felt comfortable answering whatever questions the media might have; and I’m sure the PGA of America executives in attendance felt the same way. I doubt any reporters would have asked, but if they did, I could have told them that the other two managing partners—Dwight Bainbridge and Dave Hutchinson—and I had paid back the bank and our original investors under the assumption that membership enrollment and real estate sales would continue to flow as briskly as they had when the course opened two years earlier. When that flow suddenly dried up, it forced us to stop construction on the clubhouse because we only had enough capital to keep the current operations going. We had a line of credit with the bank, and

601 E Pic Pike Rd | PO Box 869 Saratoga, WY 82331 | 800.594.0178


Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

THE FIRST STEP may be your doorstep. Schedule a test drive and, when possible, we’ll bring the Equus to your front door. Equus is likely to raise a few eyebrows. And it’s guaranteed to raise everyone’s expectations for what a luxury vehicle starting at $58,000 can deliver.

Contact McDonald Hyundai today.

Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

6500 S. Broadway Littleton, CO 80121 (303) 376-4731

June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer


CHARTING THEIR COURSE: McGetrick (left) actively consulted with course architects Ben Crenshaw (center) and Bill Coore as Colorado Golf Club took shape.

The perfect combination of a winning team and championship course, Highlands Ranch Golf Club is now the home of the Denver Pioneers. Experience our continued tradition of excellence today! Individual & Corporate Memberships, Daily Public Play, and Tournaments are available.

303.471.0000 60

Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

Dave, Dwight and I, along with seven other members used our own money as bridge financing. Dave, Dwight and I also deferred our salaries, so we could continue to pay the employees. Colorado Golf Club was my vision and passion. Dwight, Dave and I were meeting with lending institutions day after day after day trying to get the facility recapitalized. At the same time we were trying to oversee the operations of the club. All this—and we had a major national golf championship to stage. All this—and, more importantly, I had a family to support. I was spending so much of my time and energy at Colorado Golf Club that my life was completely out of balance. I always tell people that to be successful at anything, you need to have balance between your family life, your spiritual life and your career. Mine had gone offkilter. Part of it was, of course, starting and building a new company. But I went from spending numerous hours on developing and opening the club to all of a sudden trying to keep it alive. It was a six-year whirlwind. My relationship with Sara Anne was fraying; my 18-year-old daughter, Laura, was battling depression and had attempted to take her life when she was 16; and my other children were probably not getting as much of my attention as they wanted—or as I could possibly give them. Which is why I made sure on that day, April 9, 2010, I went to see my youngest son Matthew’s soccer game at Heritage Park. As

I pulled into the parking lot, my 13-year-old daughter Leah called and asked what I was doing. When I told her I was at Matthew’s soccer game, she asked if she could come. Now, a lot of times, I’d have missed the call because I was busy on another call, or, if I answered at all, I’d tell Leah, “I’m already here; maybe you can come next time.” But I decided to turn around and drive the 15 minutes to go get her. When I was about a minute from the house, she called and said, “Dad where are you?” “I’m almost home, what’s wrong?” “You need to get home,” she said. “We can’t find Laura.” My mind and heart started racing, remembering what had happened two years earlier. When I got to the house, her car wasn’t there, so I thought she just wasn’t home. But when I walked in the house, Leah was with two of the girls Laura had gone to the Rockies game with. One of them told me that Laura’s ex-boyfriend, who was at the College of Charleston, had just a short time earlier received a strange phone call from her, saying, “Goodbye, I’m sorry, I love you.” He told them he was worried. That’s why they’d come to our house looking for Laura. I just had this eerie feeling when I entered the house. The first thing I asked was whether they had checked the basement. When they said they hadn’t, I just ran downstairs and the door was shut—and it’s never shut—and I almost knew what I was going to see when I turned the corner. ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

Our basement was unfinished, and there she was hanging from one of the beams by an electrical cord—her face, her hands, and her feet just purple, blue. It was a sight I hope no other person ever has to experience. To get her down, I climbed the ladder she’d used but I couldn’t get her down. So I ran upstairs and told the girls to call 911 because Laura hanged herself. I ran to the garage to get some clippers to cut her down and I grabbed a saw, ran downstairs and cut that cord without even thinking about catching her. She just fell to the ground and hit her head on the support beam. I thought she was dead. I was crying and hollering, “You promised me you wouldn’t do this again.” I started doing CPR for maybe about nine minutes with no results. I stopped and I actually called 911 because I didn’t know if the girls had, and I called three friends—Tom Nelson, Susan Hollern and Bob Quinette—and said, “My daughter killed herself; can you come over and help me out.” After I hung up I started doing CPR again, and I could hear these light breaths periodically coming out, but I thought it was my air, almost like gas escaping. I was trained to do CPR many, many years ago. I’m blowing as hard as I can into her mouth, and I’m pumping on her chest as hard as I can and nothing was happening. Nothing. Suddenly a police officer appeared. “Let me take over,” he said. I said no, and he said, “We’re going to do this together.” He asked if I’d checked for a pulse. I said no. Then he checked and there wasn’t one. He instructed me that we were going to do CPR differently. For about five minutes, he would lightly pump her chest twice and I would plug her nose and do two light breaths. Still no pulse. Then another police officer arrived. He wanted to take over my part, but the first officer said we had it under control. About three minutes later, he checked her neck and the four words he repeated would echo in my memory forever: “We got a pulse. We got a pulse.” Still, she was unconscious, not moving. I honestly didn’t think she was going to make it, even with a pulse. Then the paramedics showed up and asked if she had any drugs or alcohol in her body. When the policeman and I went upstairs to ask Laura’s friends, I was overwhelmed. There were three or four police cars, two fire engines, Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

three ambulances, and about fifty people from the neighborhood at the house. “All we did was drink,” Laura’s friend told me and the officer. As the paramedics carried Laura on the stretcher to the ambulance that would take her to Littleton Hospital, I knew this was the worst day of my family’s life.

PRIZED PUPILS: McGetrick helped guide Meg Mallon and Juli Inkster to wins in 11 majors.

June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer



iven how much stress Colorado Golf Club put on my family and me, many people wonder why I ever started it. After all, I had a successful golf academy that consistently ranked among the top 25 in the nation. Through Sara Anne, my first student, I met and taught Meg Mallon and Juli Inkster, who went on to win multiple major championships and help establish my reputation. My staff and I spent 10 wonderful years at

Meridian Golf Club—a great golf course, one of the best locations in the state—but we just outgrew our space there. When our lease was up at Meridian, Pat Hamill of Oakwood Homes, who’s a special person and one of the great catalysts of golf ’s growth in Colorado, provided me the opportunity to design and build my own 4,500-square-foot academy, complete with a full short-game area, at his facility at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club. We opened it in

BusinessFREE Checking • FREE Business Check Card1 • FREE Online Banking • FREE e-Statements2 Our Business Free Checking Account can save you time and money. There is No Monthly Service Charge and you get up to 150 FREE items per month3, giving you a lot more bank and a little less stress.

NCO: 303-394-5100 • SCO: 719-473-0111 • WCO: 970-242-5211 • Member FDIC Minimum opening deposit for Business Free Checking is $100; 1 No Annual Fee; 2 e-Statements are provided at no charge, paper statements will be assessed a $5 monthly fee; 3 First 150 items are free including: debits, checks deposited, and deposits made; $0.50 per item over the 150 items.


Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

2004, the same year I heard about the property in Parker that would become Colorado Golf Club. I know Pat wishes I had stayed longer, and I do too. I did try for a while to run the academy while building the club, but I realized I couldn’t do everything. I regretted that I had to quit teaching people with whom I’d taught and built relationships and friendships over numerous years. I tried to get some of the other teachers at the McGetrick Golf Academy to take over my clientele, but that didn’t always work. So while the academy still had my name, others were running the facility. But it just wasn’t the same, and people were not shy about telling me. I learned never to give up my name again—never to let someone else use it—because in the end it wound up hurting my reputation. Yet I’m very proud of the fraternity of instructors that we produced— Lana Ortega, Stan Sayers, Tom Talbott, Trent Wearner, Elena King, Eli Haskell, Joe Egnoski, Scotty Hofer, Dana Smith, Jack Small and Leon Smith. But building and developing an elite golf club had been my goal since I’d worked at Cherry Hills Country Club as an instructor under Clayton Cole shortly after he became the PGA Head Professional there in 1991. I spent three years there and developed great relationships with the members and with their children, who now have children of their own. It was just such a wonderful environment—the camaraderie of the members, how they played golf together, how they did business together, how they created this culture built on strong relationships. So when I left to start the McGetrick Golf Academy in 1994, I was also thinking someday I wanted to be an owner-operator of a golf course like Cherry Hills. I basically spent the next 10-plus years traveling, working with PGA and LPGA players, conducting golf schools corporate outings throughout the United States and abroad. This gave me the opportunity to study what distinguished certain clubs—things both good and not-sogood. I had compiled notes on everything, knowing that one day, if the opportunity presented itself to build a golf club, it would be hands-down one of the best clubs out there: the best course, the best conditioned, the best service, the best management. And, by extension, the best membership. Ultimately, it was about the membership dynamic I’d seen at Cherry Hills. I knew if I ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

CROWD PLEASER: McGetrick addresses Colorado Golf Club members at the course opening.

started this at Colorado Golf Club, I would do the same thing where the members, most of whom didn’t know each other, would become new friends. They’d have new relationships, new business relationships. It started out great, if you remember. Up to the beginning of 2008, everything was positive about Colorado Golf Club both locally and nationally. The membership was full and we’d sold three-quarters of the lots. We secured the 2010 Senior PGA Championship—the first club ever to host a major championship without hosting a prior event in the history of the PGA of America. The LPGA also awarded us the 2013 Solheim Cup. Then the economy collapsed and we were having trouble getting recapitalized. Suddenly the 300-plus members who had been forming the wonderful culture of the club started forming competing groups to buy it, to take it through bankruptcy and so on. It got really tough because it frayed relationships within the club. And sadly, a large majority of these members joined because of my relationships with them through the years. I consider them my friends, so part of me feels I let them down. The thing is, I never wanted to be in that position—as a managing partner. I started off as the director of golf and oversaw all golf operations, but when one of our managing partners left, I inherited his position, which took me away from my role as a golf professional. Looking back, it’s the biggest mistake I ever made. I wish I had stayed on the golf operations side of it, because that’s why I came there. I do see myself as a businessperson, but if you look at the golf industry, instruction is the heart and soul and the backbone of it. To this day, my biggest passion is teaching people. I resigned as a managing partner because I believed in being loyal to the members who wanted to save the club and in being a Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

sounding board in their quest to acquire it. Which they did in the spring of 2011. I’m proud Colorado Golf Club is now member-owned, member-operated, and I think they’re doing a great job. The clubhouse is completed, and the culture we established is being mended. Even though I’m no longer a part of it, one of the things I find most gratifying is that I created career opportunities for so many talented individuals. I’ve made peace with myself that I’m going to move on, but I will always look back and know in my heart CGC is a special place.


Get A Complimentary Sleeve Of Golf Balls When You Come In For A Test Drive




Over Kelley Blue Book Value For Your Trade††

New 2012 Honda Civic LX New 2012 Honda Accord LX

STK# C-6299

STK# C-8096






303-708-2000 • 1-800-NEW HONDA


June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer



Order Your FREE Official State of Colorado

th e of fic ia

l go lf gu id e fo r th e st at e of co lo ra

2012 Color

ado Golf G


Golf Guide Today! As the state’s official golf guide, the Colorado Golf Guide offers detailed information such as driving directions, yardage, slope ratings and phone numbers for all 254 courses.

Hole #10

Information provided by the Colorad PGA, the Colorado o Section Golf Associa Women’s tion, the Colorad Golf Associa o tion, the sional Golf Ladies ProfesAssociation and the Rocky Golf Course Superintendent Mountain s Associa tion.

Visit to order today!


Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012


really didn’t think Laura would make it. On the way to the hospital, I phoned my friend Chuck Latham, who owns a plane, and asked if he could fly up to Bozeman to pick up Leslie so she could be with her sister. He and his wife Kathy brought back Leslie, her boyfriend and another friend to support her. Sara Anne was on the next flight from Puerto Vallarta. The doctors said Laura’s best chance of surviving would be to induce a 24-hour hypothermic coma, which would lower her body temperature to prevent any further swelling or internal damage. During this period, a scan revealed some fluid and some swelling in the left side of her brain, but she did have some brain activity, which was very good news. After the 24 hours, they had to get all the medication out of her and slowly raise her body temperature. Because of her petite size, it took longer than anticipated for her to come to. But when she did, it was wonderful. She couldn’t open her eyes or talk but I came to her side and I said, “This is Dad. If you can hear me, squeeze my hands,” and she did. By the time Sara Anne and Leslie had arrived, Laura started to regain consciousness and had no idea what had transpired. “Where am I? What happened?” When her mother told her, she said, “I would never do that.” To this day, she doesn’t remember anything about trying to take her life—not the phone call to her ex-boyfriend, not even typing suicide notes to all the family members and her friends. Laura’s recovery was hit and miss. She spent the next two weeks in Intensive Care. She had heart failure, short-term brain damage, caught pneumonia but showed signs of progress. But I kept saying to myself, she’s alive for a reason. Much of it, of course, is the incredible medical care she received. Much of it, too, is fate. What if I had missed Leah’s call? What if Laura’s exboyfriend hadn’t called her friends out of concern? What if... It’s fate and it’s faith. Although I’m a Christian, compared to friends who are, say, scratch golfers when it comes to their faith, I’m an 18 handicap who hadn’t been improving. That changed in the hospital. Every day dozens and dozens of friends and family were there to support Laura even though they couldn’t see her. They formed prayer groups. One day, dozens of people filled the entire ICU and were praying for her and for our family. It was so overwhelming and so powerful to see the belief these people had in their relationship with

ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer


Christ. During that time in the hospital, more than 100 people came to visit her; they had prayer groups outside the hospital; the Facebook page and prayer group my daughter Leslie started for her had more than 2,000 people on it. It was so heartwarming to know how much love and support there was for Laura and our family. When you go through something like this, you think it’s just the person who’s in the hospital that’s in pain. But it damaged our whole family, from my daughter Leah, to Sara Anne and all the kids. But it really shows you how important faith is and how important friends are for support. As Laura stabilized in the ICU, one of my friends, a doctor who had been making

{ Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012


Maybe it was meant to be that I no longer had a job at Colorado Golf Club. The situation gave me the time to learn how important family is, and maybe I didn’t know my family as well as I thought I did.

his rounds at Littleton, got Laura into Craig Hospital for the intensive rehabilitation that helped bring her brain and heart to full functioning capacity. But we knew the minute she left Craig, she would need serious professional help in order to survive in this world. Sara Anne researched it and found Trinity Teen Solutions, a Christian-based facility for troubled girls in Wyoming. We took her there for what we thought would be six months. It turned out to be 14, which was actually 10 months less than the average stay. If the toughest day of my life was finding her hanging, the second toughest was dropping her off there—it was like dropping her off at prison. We’d only get one 15-minute call per week, and were not able to see her for six months. So our family was grieving. We were all


doing therapy—family and individual. The uninsured portion of the medical bills was enormous, and Trinity cost upwards of $7,000 a month and I couldn’t pay for it. I had no salary and we were out of money. You know, it always amazed me how successful people could lose everything, go into bankruptcy or whatever, and I’d always ask myself, “How can that happen? There’s just no way.” Then suddenly I could see how it happens so easily. Mercifully, my friends and members of Colorado Golf Club in a short period of time put together a special golf tournament for Laura to raise money for her, to help pay for her hospital bills and offset some of the cost of Trinity, which insurance didn’t cover. They invited members and friends to play, and I

wish Laura could have been there to see the support. I am so grateful for what the members did because we couldn’t have made it without them. So through this, I learned how important friendships are and how important faith is. Even with the financial help from the golf event, we still were faced every month with whether to make a mortgage payment or to make a payment to Trinity. In my mind, it wasn’t even a choice. So we went through foreclosure on our house. One of my friends, Blake Fisher, had a home in Castle Pines that he and his family weren’t living in and they graciously offered it to our family to live in as long as we needed. In the two years since Laura’s episode, I’ve lowered my handicap as a Christian, and I’m ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

THE MCGETRICKS: Matthew, Laura, Mike, Leah, Michael, Lindsay, Leslie and Sara Anne in South Carolina.

really starting to grow spiritually. Two good friends, Janet Moore and Tom Nelson, helped me learn to get my life back in balance and never to let it get out of balance. Maybe it was meant to be that I no longer had a job at Colorado Golf Club. I don’t think I could have been working anyway with what we were going through.The situation gave me the time to learn how important family is, and maybe I didn’t know my family as well I thought I did. By virtue of our experience, my family has encountered so many people who are going through—or have gone through—similar situations to ours. Through the Facebook page, dozens parents and kids in crisis have reached out to me, to Sara Anne and to Leslie. They’ve emailed. They’ve called. We want to help them, share our experience, let them know they’re not alone, and help them get the professional care they need. What I learned from Laura’s transformative 14 months at Trinity is that I’d like to start a wilderness retreat program for families, where they can enhance their personal relationships. If I could ever do it, I would like to be the caretaker of this facility and staff it with the appropriate professionals to help other families. I’ve already started looking at some land in Colorado. This is my new passion My other passion is to have a golf facility that would cater to middle-class families that can’t afford golf. That’s sort of my next dream, but until then I’m looking to work at a club as

Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

a director of golf or director of instruction. This job most likely won’t be in Colorado, however. Last July, Sara Anne moved with the kids to Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she has become the women’s golf coach at Converse College. Contrary to rumors, we’re not divorced. We’re taking a break from our relationship to heal our personal and family issues. I’ve decided to move to South Carolina to be closer to my family. And that includes Laura, who’s now safe and happy at Charleston Southern University, sharing her story and consoling others who struggle with the same issues she did. In sharing her experience, she hopes not only to stop others from attempting suicide but also prevent their families from enduring what we went through. That’s my motivation as well. Life takes some amazing turns. In 2008, when Colorado Golf Club got the 2010 Senior PGA Championship and all kinds of other honors, never in a million years could you have convinced me I’d have my cap in hand less than a year later. I hope by sharing this story, I’m able to give struggling people hope and the knowledge that they’re not alone. Find strength in your family, your faith and your friendships, and never let work throw your life out of balance. ag

Before founding Colorado Golf Club, Mike McGetrick was the 1999 National PGA Teacher of the Year, and a five-time Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year.

June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer


g n i k c o Rthe e g n a R t Fron

After four decades, iconic Arrowhead Golf Club continues to set the aesthetic standard for Colorado golf. By Jon Rizzi o rty yea r s ago a seismic shift shook the Colorado golf landscape. The opening of Arrowhead Golf Club in Roxborough State Park redefined public golf as a game no longer confined to twodimensional, horizontal settings like Park Hill, Patty Jewett and Wellshire. Arrowhead moved the geologic drama those courses enjoyed from afar—the “mountain views”—

into the layout of the course itself. Yes, the founders of private golf enclaves like Rolling Hills, Hiwan and Perry Park had already pioneered the piedmont. But not since the creation of Red Rocks Amphitheater had such an ambitious project so seamlessly and beautifully interwoven function and form for public enjoyment. Arrowhead blew up golf on the Front Range, yet designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. eschewed dynamite during the course’s construction. “Scrapers and hoes are all we

used,” he remembers. “We were very efficient and in love with the land. We kept it simple, left the rocks and outcroppings. When you have a beautiful lady, you don’t want to overdress her; she doesn’t need lipstick and jewelry. You let her natural radiance shine through.” That radiance would in all likelihood shine differently had Jones not beaten out Pete Dye and his then-associate Jack Nicklaus for the gig. “I was in my early 30s, just setting out on my own,” says the author

ON THE ROCKS: Hole Nos.11 and 13.

of some 270 courses. “We did the whole thing—lump sum, design and construction— for $500,000. When you don’t have money, you don’t waste money.” Such economy did not dilute the course’s majesty, which reveals itself from the clubhouse and tenth hole in the form of the gargantuan, 300-million-year-old crimson protrusions that serrate the sky. Forming a 6,682-yard latticework through the outcroppings, the holes climb, wind and plunge naturally through the crags Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

and escarpments. The extraordinary par3s at nos. 3, 9 and 13 consistently rate as the most picturesque in a state famous for one-shotter eye-candy, and the chance to cap off your round with a birdie or better awaits on the reachable 543-yard 18th. Arrowhead plays somewhat short by today’s equipment standards, but its undulating greens help protect the par of 70. “Arrowhead is of its time and timeless,” says Jones. “By achieving that, people who come after that will love it and care for it.”

Those caretakers have changed a number of times since 1972. CNL Lifestyle Properties bought the property from American Golf in 2007 and currently owns it, with Fore Golf Partners taking over the business and management operations from Eagle Golf this April. “Like Cleopatra, Arrowhead has brought many an emperor to his knees,” Jones jokes. “It’s one thing to be seduced by her; it’s another to maintain her and take care of all Egypt.”; 303-973-9614 ag

June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer





Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

Prep superstar Wyndham Clark’s talent and fiery competitiveness earned him a scholarship to Oklahoma State this fall. But it took a swing change, a hiatus from golf and some counsel from an NBA icon to put his game in perspective. By Sam Adams Photographs by E.J. Carr

Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m


Dark clouds roll in over Highlands Ranch Golf Club as one booming drive after another thunders off the clubface of 18-year-old Wyndham Clark. As we get into the interview, it’s hard to believe the voluble Valor Christian High School senior is the same kid who was once too shy to speak with me on the telephone after scoring an ace at Keystone Ranch Golf Course. He was all of six years at the time. Hole No. 12. Driver off the ladies’ tee box. 120 yards. Ball lands 10 yards short of the green and rolls until it drops into the cup. Joy—and a round of cold milks for everyone at the 19th hole. Twelve years later Clark ranks among the top junior golfers in the country, headed to perennial golf powerhouse Oklahoma State. He is also a two-time Colorado high school golf champion. Clark claimed the 2011 Class 4A individual title last October by shooting a pair of 64s at Pelican Lakes Golf Club to finish with a 16-under 128 for the tournament. He won by eight strokes over his closest competitor. “I think it turned out to be one of the best tournaments I’d played, in regards to handling the pressure and my mindset,” Clark says. “It’s so hard to be the guy who is expected to win—and then win it.” Unless it’s circled on his scorecard, the number “2” is not Clark’s favorite number. He reflects briefly on his recent trip to Graniteville, South Carolina, just 20 minutes from Augusta National, where he competed at the Junior Invitational played at Sage Valley Country Club. In a field of 54 junior golfers from all over the world, Clark finished second—three strokes behind his future Oklahoma State University teammate, Zachary Olsen from Cordova, Tennessee. “I hate losing more than I love winning,” Clark says, quoting the actor Brad Pitt playing the role of Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball. “I hate being second in whatever it is I do. You lose more often than you win—especially in golf. It happens so often that you really don’t like it.” Clark had second-place finishes in the state high school golf championships as a freshman and junior. You won’t console him with reminders that a second-place finish is better than third, fourth—or T-47, which is where he placed in the previous year’s Junior Invitational at Sage Valley. He carded a second-round 87, which included a 10 and 11 on his card. That event was Clark’s first tournament with new coach Erik Billinger, the highly respected PGA professional at Highlands Ranch Golf Club. It seemed like a perfect combination—the 2010 June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer


Colorado PGA Teacher of the Year working with the CGA’s 2010 Junior Player of the Year. However, the task seemed rather odd: the No. 1 recruit for one of the nation’s top collegiate golf programs wanting to change his swing. Billinger bluntly suggested Clark’s swing “sucked.” Clark decided to do something about it. “He has big aspirations and dreams— not only for college, but afterwards,”

Randall Clark says about his son. “But he wanted to attack what he thought was a weakness. We talked about taking some lumps, but if you’re patient and think of it as taking one step back to move four steps forward, it could be a great time to do it.” PGA Golf Instructor Steve Beach of Glenmoor Country Club, who worked with Wyndham between the ages of six and 13 and calls him

HELPFUL TAKEAWAY: Billinger revamped Clark’s swing and his attitude.

“the greatest talent I’ve ever witnessed,” isn’t surprised to learn Clark has been working on a swing change. “A lot of golfers would take his old swing,” Beach jokes. When they worked together, Beach used the teaching methods of his mentor, Marshall Smith, to tutor Clark. “Practice the short game 75 percent of the time, and the long game 25 percent,” explains the pro. “You build your swing on the short shot. Wyndham bought into the philosophy at an early age.” Beach also could see how obsessed Clark was with being the best. “Someone of his caliber mentally has to be a perfectionist,” Beach says. “I told him that if you’re looking for perfect in golf, you’re never going to find it. You’ll drive yourself crazy.” Clark tried his best to drive himself crazy with practice. “It wouldn’t be uncommon for Wyndham, on any given day, to practice a 6-foot putt for two hours,” Beach said. “I have never seen anyone do that.” Beach has seen Clark’s temper take over in tournament play. Clark was 12 years old playing a tournament in Arizona. He started well, but after a string of bad holes he went ballistic. “He’s throwing clubs ... just lost it,” Beach said. “I took him off to the side of the clubhouse and read him the riot act.” By age 9, Beach says Clark “wanted to be on the PGA Tour.” It also was around that time that Beach told him, “Wyndham, I know you’re going to play for Oklahoma State one day.” Eight years later Clark signed a letter to play golf at OSU. “I felt so excited for him when the coach at Oklahoma State called,” Beach said. “Wyndham’s dad told me, ‘You were right.’” Wyndham’s father, Randall Clark, is a former professional tennis player who has competed at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He’s also a father who badly wants to see his son win golf tournaments. “I think we knew, at a


Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

very early age, that he had some real natural gifts—great hands, super coordinated. During that period in life, as he started to play in tournaments and he got the bug, we saw a very special competitive fire. And he had a hard time managing it because he was impatient and wanted to win now. He couldn’t necessarily manage his emotions. As we’ve watched him mature and develop, he’s found the ability to marshal his huge competitive fire and personal desire—which is all his. His mindset is, ‘I will not be out-worked.’” Or out-anythinged. “In any sport, I didn’t take losing very well,” Wyndham recalls. “Until I matured, I couldn’t handle it. Even in second, third grades, at recess I’d lose in basketball, soccer or whatever we were playing and I’d get mad. I’d either shut down for the rest of the day, or act out in class because I lost. That’s how much I hated it. I got into a fistfight with my best friend during a one-onone basketball game when I was about eight years old. I made a shot to win. He said I traveled—but I didn’t. Next thing you know, we’re on the ground fighting and a neighbor had to break us up. I had the worst reputation in all my sports growing up—being a hothead. I still have a little of that because I’m a perfectionist.” Clark’s quest for perfection brought him to Billinger. But the phenom also brought his impatience. “I wanted a quick fix,” he says. Change plus impatience equaled miserable spring and summer. Frustrations within the ultracompetitive—and, at times, hot-headed—Clark simmered before reaching an embarrassing boil last June at Pueblo’s Walking Stick Golf Course, where he, as he had in Arizona when he was 12, lost his temper on the course during the sectional qualifier for the U.S. Junior Amateur. “All the pressure of people saying I was going to win came together at once,” Clark says. “Billinger walked off the bag, so I walked the last nine holes by myself. And he told me that if I treat him like that again he’d never work with me.” Clark tied for 12th, 15 strokes behind the top qualifier. Later in the evening, Billinger sent a text message that read: “You need to quit . . . even if it’s just for a week, a month or a couple of months.” “I just saw a kid that completely had the wrong perspective,” Billinger says. “He was so wrapped up in results and scores. If he had (continued on page 76) Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

PERFECT PAIRING: Billinger told Clark his swing “sucked.” They’ve been together ever since.








June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer


SWING sequence Wyndham Clark








Wyndham’s swing has been a process of understanding his tendency to get “stuck” under or behind the ball on his downswing, causing him to “flip” it. A perfect start to the swing (photo 1) brings Wyndham’s backswing (photos 2 and 3) more on plane at the top rather than pointing to the right of the target. That change helped us with the goal of getting the club “out in front” coming in (photo 4) rather than “under.” From there, Wyndham can “cover” the shot rather than hang back, giving him the freedom to rotate hard through it (photo 5) and finish beautifully (photos 6 and 7). —Analysis by Erik Billinger, PGA Professional Instructor

Clubs Also Carries Favorite Courses



Driver: Nike VRS Pro (TK degree? Shaft?); Woods: TK; Irons: Nike Victory Reds; Wedges: TK Putter: Odyssey White Hot, Ball: TK Index cards with positive affirmations, specific Bible verses and mechanical notes on swing. Cherry Hills (in-state); Sage Valley (Graniteville, SC)

Lowest Rounds

Lowest competitive round: 63 at Flying Horse and Superstition Mountain (twice); Lowest non-competitive round: 62 at Cherry Hills (“but not from the tips so I didn’t count it.”)

Favorite Pros

Tiger Woods, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler, Steve Stricker

Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

It’s Here!

Sign up NOW!

2012 Fan Golf Tour

June 12 June 25

The Ranch Country Club The Club at Pradera

July 12

Hiwan Golf Club

Aug 21

Sept 5 & 6

Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

A place for all and all the game teaches.

Common Ground G.C.* * Includes 2 Ground Passes to the U.S. Amateur Championship

at Cherry Hills Country Club August 13-19, 2012.

Horseshoe Bay Resort

Finals - Austin, Texas

June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer


SMOOTH LISTENER: Advice from Billups helped Clark.

Wyndham Clark (continued from page 73)



2012 Colorado


Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

Golf Guide

a great day, he was up high. If he had a bad day, he was down low. So his self-worth was like his golf scores. And everything just came piling on him and blew up in one day…all the pressure he had on him was so unhealthy that he needed to completely change the way he’s wired, the way he thinks and the way he goes about his golf.” Clark chose to heed Billinger’s advice. He worked maintenance at a local assisted-living facility. Instead of reading greens, Clark found himself cutting grass. He washed windows and cleaned the facility’s pool. He didn’t mind holding a rake, but he missed the grip of his putter. “Some days it’d be 90 degrees with no wind, and I’d be like, ‘Man, I’m not out practicing,’” Clark says. Billinger then decided to call on friend (and pupil) Chauncey Billups, the veteran NBA star, to help get Clark’s competitive mindset out of the rough and back into the center of the fairway. It was an unusual pairing—hoops legend and sports icon from the ‘hood meets high school golf phenom from the ‘burbs. But when Billups spoke to Clark, he says it felt as if he were talking to himself. “He’s one of a kind coming out of Denver. I can remember being that same kid, just in a different sport,” Billups says. “I know the expectations that come with it and it’s not easy. So I wanted to share some of my experiences with him, try to help him deal with things as someone who’s been through it. “We spoke for quite a while. He asked

ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

100 years of learning... The CGA and CWGA believe golf is unique in the life-lessons it can teach. It promotes etiquette, respect for yourself and others and rewards patience and perseverance as much as strength and agility. And because no one is too young or too old to learn and benefit from this game of a lifetime, we created the CommonGround golf facilities — a place for all and all the game teaches.

For a century, the not-for-profit CGA and CWGA have existed solely to preserve, improve and share this great game with everyone in the state. To learn more of the many ways that we are keeping the game you love the game you love, and how to get involved, visit

Keeping the game you love the game you love.

Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

Š 2012

June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer


JOB #: 12FMG10350-81

Celebrate Father’s Day with Brunch at Fleming’s

Sunday, June 17th, 11:30 am to 3 pm Make this Father’s Day especially memorable with an exceptional 3-course brunch menu for $34.95.* Children’s brunch menu available for $16.95.* As a special toast to Dad, we’ll present him with a $25 Dining Card** for a future visit to Fleming’s.

191 Inverness Drive West, Englewood • 303-768-0827 * Per person, excluding tax and gratuity. ** $25 Dining Card valid 6/18/12 – 7/17/12.

12FMG350-81_DEN_AvidGlfr_Ad.indd 1

4/23/12 2:09 PM

it’s easy. it’s mobile. it’s FREE. Play golf for



Sign up for discounted golf now at


Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

questions, and that’s when I knew he was CLIENT: FLEMING’S locked in.” DESCRIPTION: Clark felt comfortable enough with Billups Denver Avid Golfer to share concerns about pressures he was VERSION #: 1 of 1 feeling at home. TRIM SIZE: 4.75"w x 7.375"h “It was a very delicate thing to talk to him BLEED: 0.125” about because we’re talking about his parINK COLORS: 4C ents—his biggest supporters and his foundaPERSONALIZATION: NO tion,” Billups says. “I just tried to give him SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS: some perspective and let him do what he REVISE INSTRUCTIONS: wanted with it.” What he did was confront his father in a healthy way. Denver Avid Golfer Publication(s) : “I think Wyndham started to feel me more than he should,” Randall Clark says. “I had Kate Lenz 310-482-4429 DP Contact Info : to learn to let him figure it out, let him feel FMG10350-81 Job # : safe when he came home—not that he was going to be judged and we’d analyze every 4.75"w x 7.375"h Finished Size : shot in every round. I had to become more Size : ofLive hisArea dad again, more of a friend and when he’s ready Bleed Size : to talk about (golf ), we talk about it—but not force it. “The last thing I ever wanted to be was sort of that meddling father. When he called me on it…he became a man. It doesn’t mean I don’t live and die with every shot. I still do. But I’m really committed to letting him manage his own dreams.” Recognition of those dreams came at last month’s HP Byron Nelson Championship at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas in Texas, where Wyndham was one of four players to receive the Byron Nelson International Junior Golf Award, which recognizes golf skill, academics and community involvement. Later this summer, in August, the 2012 U.S. Amateur will be played at the Clarks’ home course, Cherry Hills Country Club. If Wyndham’s renewed attitude, revamped swing and ever-present work ethic are in concert, he should qualify and have a chance to contend on the course where he learned the game. If he doesn’t, he seems better equipped to handle the disappointment. “The things that happened last summer built my character,” Clark says. “They made me handle pressure better, made me a better person—and, ultimately, a better golfer. “Chauncey told me no matter how good it was or how bad a day it was, in the shower he’d wash it off. Wash it off. New day. That’s something I’ve taken to.” ag

Contributing Editor Sam Adams is an awardwinning journalist and standup comedian. See his work at Also visit and become a follower of us on Facebook and Twitter. ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m

GET CUSTOM FIT WITH OUR INNOVATIVE GC2 FITTING SYSTEM With a comprehensive analysis of launch angle, spin rate and ball speed, we will find the right clubs for your game.

WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS ARE SAYING “I really had no idea how shaft length, club head lie position and other little adjustments would make such a difference.” - ATX Golfer

“I increased my driving distance about 25 yards from 200 to about 225, I hit more shots in the fairway, and I dropped my average score in league play a full 6 strokes.” – Bob S7850

For more great custom fit stories or to schedule your fitting, go to



See for store locations

Co l o r a d o A v i d G o l f e r. c o m

“The best part? I can play with my son and one of his friends without feeling like a drag on their games.” – Davidr



5” tall Live area wide x 2.131 3.3815”


Bleed area x 2.3681” tall wide 3.6181”

from TAYLORMADE & ADIDAS . Visit your local store for details.

June 2012 |Colorado AvidGolfer


theGamesofGolf PUZZLERS


Not the Three Bears Can you hunt down the names of Colorado’s wildlife courses?


nimals appear on Colorado courses—and in the names of more than two-dozen of them. Eagles soar the highest with five (Eagle Springs, Eagle Trace, Eagle Ranch, Gleneagles and Eagle-Vail), followed by three Bears (Bear Dance, Black Bear and Bear Creek), three Foxes (Hill, Hollow and Acres), a pair of Deer (Kings Deer and Deer Creek) and two hawks (Desert Hawk and Red Hawk Ridge). The remaining 13 fall into six categories. Can you name them? Each course or club name comes with two or three words. To give you a head start, we’ve made the box for the animal’s name outlined in red and filled in one letter for each word. (i.e. E _ _ _ _ _ _ _ A _ _ would be EAGLE TRACE). Name all 13 courses correctly and post it to our facebook page. First one with all 13 correct wins a prize.

Four Ungulates


(hoofed, typically herbivorous quadrupeds)









S Four birds



















Answers to Last Month’s Games of Golf: 1. Ballyneal 2. I ronb ri d ge 3. Re d S ky-Faz io 4. Foss i l Trace 5. Rolli ngstone Ranch 6. Lakota Canyon 7. Yam pa Valley


Colorado AvidGolfer | June 2012

ColoradoAvidG o lf e r.c o m


He went from being Colorado’s most celebrated golf professional and the developer of Colorado Golf Club to a man with no income, no home and...