By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
CASTLE ROCK — The PGA Tour is returning to Colorado for the first time in a decade with the redesigned course at Castle Pines Golf Club serving as host to the 2024 BMW Championship.
It’s the first big-time professional golf tournament at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course 30 miles south of Denver since The International’s 21-year run ended in 2006.
Nicklaus said every hole has been modified over the last five years, highlighted by the addition of several lakes on the mountainside course carved through natural rock and Ponderosa pines that opened in 1981.
“It’s very exciting to see Castle Pines back in tournament golf,” Nicklaus said. “We have made some excellent changes to the golf course over the last five years which make it more playable but still quite challenging.”
The undulating layout that features narrow fairways and elevated multilayered greens plays over 8,000 yards with a par of 72.
“I think it’s a fun golf course to play and it certainly doesn’t lack for beauty,” Nicklaus said.
Castle Pines was the third of the more than 400 golf courses that Nicklaus and his team have designed.
Tyler Dennis, PGA Tour executive vice president, said returning to the Denver market was a priority for the PGA.
“It’s one of the biggest markets in the U.S. It’s got a great sports culture,” Dennis said. “And we think this is the perfect opportunity to showcase the FedExCup playoffs.”
The 2024 BMW Championship will be played in mid-August before the NFL and NCAA football seasons begin.
George Solich, Castle Pines Golf Club chairman and president, said he’d like to see pro golf make more frequent visits to Colorado.
“We would like to see, let’s say, a permanent rotation,” Solich said. “We would really love to not make this just a one-and-done.”
The PGA Tour’s last big event in Colorado was the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills Country Club in 2014, which Billy Horschel won on his way to capturing the FedExCup title.
“I know, time keeps traveling faster and faster,” said John Elway, a Castle Pines Golf Club executive committee and board member. “But it was such a great event at Cherry Hills and plus the history of the tournaments here, The International in the ’90s and early 2000s, so it’s great to have it back here.
“I know the fans of Colorado, they’re great sports fans. So, it’ll be a great tournament.”