10 Mar New Golf Course “RainDance National” to Be North America’s Longest at Almost 8,500 Yards
In recent years, shorter has become trendier when it comes to new golf course openings, from Par-3 designs at destination resorts to layouts like the latest offering at Streamsong that will feature 18 holes ranging from 70 to 300 yards. Conventional thinking is that these shorter courses provide a fun, engaging, and less time-consuming option for golfers of all abilities.
So why is one of the few new course openings scheduled for this year set to become the longest in North America?
The simple answer: location.
RainDance National Golf Club is situated on a unique portion of the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, designed as the centerpiece to a 2,500-home community in Windsor, about 45 minutes north of Denver. At an elevation just under 5,000 feet outside the Mile High City, the course will measure 8,475 yards from the back tees when it opens to public play in July 2022.
“We originally had the course around 8,000 yards and realized due to all the different characteristics of the land, elevation, and grass it would be way too short to challenge the best in the world,” says eight-time PGA Tour winner Fred Funk, who collaborated with golf architect Harrison Minchew on the project, which aspires to host professional events. “We designed this course to challenge the best, but to be enjoyable by all.”
Minchew says scratch and professional players will likely realize 10 percent additional carry compared to a course at sea level. With added carry and runout due to the elevation, sloping fairways, and fescue turf at RainDance, the course will probably play closer to 7,500 to 7,600 yards from the back tees. This relative length would be similar to that of the 7,700-yard Ocean Course at Kiawah that hosted the 2021 PGA Championship.
In total, RainDance features about 225 feet of total descent from the high point on the 1st hole to the lake on the 15th hole; for perspective, that’s over 40 percent greater than the celebrated elevation changes at Augusta National. RainDance has five par-five holes and five par threes, but perhaps most uniquely, Minchew’s grading plan results in only three holes playing uphill despite the elevation changes throughout.
“The course has a wonderful open feel in the most natural golf terrain I have ever worked on,” says Minchew, who has been in golf design for 35 years. “The main feature is a series of arroyos, 20- to 30-feet deep canyons, that flow down to the Poudre River that is the north boundary. I have designed 75 golf courses worldwide and never have had such a great piece of land.”
Author: Erick Matuszewski