The Inverness: High Marks for a Mile High Gem
The Inverness: High Marks for a Mile High Gem
By A.J. Ali
Host, Wellness 101
Colorado is my 40th state of golf and although I’ve not gotten anywhere near a 79 for a score, I’m having the golfing time of my life. I mean, who gets to golf in 40 states in 69 days? Not even PGA Tour players keep that kind of a schedule. I told my wife a few weeks ago when we were at Nemacolin that it sure would be awesome to be on the Tour, staying and playing at the best places in the country. She just looked at me and said, honey, you are on tour staying and playing at the best places in the country. Oh, yes, that’s right. This weekend, I’m staying and playing at The Inverness Hotel and Conference Center, a gem in the Mile High City of Denver. The Inverness is one of those rare resort properties that is close to a city, yet transports you to a far-away land of peace and tranquility. There is a world-class spa there, amazing dining options including the best Sunday jazz brunch in town, robust conference facilities, luxurious rooms, a beautiful and challenging golf course, and much more. The Inverness is a favorite for weddings, meetings and social events – and the Denver Broncos, who were staying there while I was there, preparing for their pre-season home game that weekend. That was a highlight for me because during a fire alarm evacuation, several guests and even one of the hotel employees mistook me for a Bronco, which did my 50-year-old ego some good. I walked a little taller that day – and held my tongue about being a die-hard Ravens fan.
Number one is a dogleg left playing at 392 yards. At the dogleg there’s a large bunker on the right side of the fairway giving you a visual cue to make sure you draw your ball or at least hit it straight to about 175 yards in. The green is guarded by a large bunker on the right with a false front and another on the left tucked close to the green.
Number two is a par five with a blind downhill tee shot. You’re landing area slopes from left to right and your second shot is a 30° angle to the left. There is a pond on the right hand side that can come into play either off of a very long drive pushed too far right or on your second shot. There is a boulder lined creek cutting through the fairway about 50 yards from the green ready to catch the ball rolling down the second of two hills. Five bunkers stand guard around this large green, which is a large oval shape with a ridge running down the middle from back to front.
#3 is a 178-yard par 3 featuring that same pond on your right hand side this time. Three large bunkers guard this two-tiered green that slopes from back down to front.
The tee shot on number four has you hitting through a chute that makes the fairway look 15 feet wide. The stand of cattails running along the left and in front of you give you another optical challenge to contend with. If you miss right big you’ll wind up in the fairway of another hole and you’ll still have a shot to the green. Miss wide left and you wind up in tall native grass or out of bounds. Another pond is on the right side of this fairway and the green sloping from front to back is guarded by five bunkers. The club championship is this weekend and placement of the holes reflect that level of difficulty. This is the third hole with the flagstick tucked in a difficult position just past the front edge of the green. Jon played his third shot from about 165 to within 3 feet of the flag. So far that is been the highlight of our day.
Number five is a short uphill par 4 that plays to 377 yards. It is the number one handicap hole. You hit your tee shot over a pond to an uphill fairway that is sloping from left down to right. Your approach shot is to an elevated green that features a few undulations. It is a very tricky green to read which is probably why it’s the men’s number one handicap hole.
#6 is a dogleg right par 4 with a pond and bunker along the left side of the fairway and a set of two very large bunkers on the right at the dogleg. Two large bunkers on the left and right front of this green give you one last challenge. Today the pin is placed at the very end of this 30-yard oval green.
#7 is a downhill 452-yard par 4. There are two deep fairway bunkers, one on either side of the fairway about 100 yards from the green. Two more deep faced greenside bunkers await your arrival. Safely out of play but providing some great visuals is another pond 30 yards to the right of the green. On this day there was a flock of geese either saying hello to us or laughing at our shots.
#8 is 181-yard uphill par three. Two deep greenside bunkers guard the front and there is a narrow stretch at fairway leading into the green. I took that route running my ball up onto the green 8 feet from the flagstick.
#9 is a 408-yard par 4 with a dogleg right. Guarding the green is a very large and very deep bunker stretching 20 yards across the face. That is where my second shot landed. Should you wish to bail out to the right to avoid that monster, there are two more bunkers on the right side that are equally as large.
#10 is a 399-yard dogleg left par 4. There are two large bunkers at the dogleg again giving you challenges off of the tee.
#11 is a 175-yard par 3 with a pond to fly over and four greenside bunkers to miss. There’s a slope down on the front edge so if your tee shot is barely on, it’s probably going to wind up off or even wet.
#12 is a 422-yard par 4 straight downhill. That was our favorite driving hole of the day so far. It’s a grip it and rip it hole for sure, especially at this altitude which makes even an average distance driver like me think I’ve got a shot at hitting the green from here. These young guys I’m playing with actually have a shot at reaching it, but on this day all of us found ourselves hitting our second shots from the fairway.
#13 is a very scenic dogleg left par 4. From the tee box, you are looking at a pond that has about a 125-yard carry, and then several trees past that, and then a fairway that turns 45 degrees to the left. If you hit a straight shot, not too long, you’ll be fine. If you can draw the ball, you can give yourself a huge advantage going into the green. There’s a creek running right in front of the green just for an added measure of beauty or frustration depending on where your ball lands.
#14 is a straight 422-yard par 4. This is one of the more wide-open tee shots on the course.
#15 is a 168-yard par 3 with an all-carry pond along the left edge and room on the right for anything short of the green. I don’t hit a lot of greens so I think about bail out areas, even on par three’s. Where I miss is just as important as where I want to land the ball.
#16 is a par-5 playing long at 575-yards slightly uphill. The green is protected on the right by a stand of trees.
#17 is a par 4 with two large bunkers on the right of the fairway and a pond on the left near the green. There are also greenside bunkers, making this a very well guarded hole. It’s not a long hole, however, playing at 353 from the whites and 384 from the blues. Straight and steady is the order of the day here.
#18 is a 389-yard par 4 playing uphill towards the hotel. A solid finishing hole for this great course.
Writer and TV Host A.J. Ali is traveling throughout the entire United States during a 101-day period from June 16 to September 24, 2014, to launch Wellness 101, a multi-media program promoting the wellness lifestyle. A.J. is searching for the best of wellness that America has to offer, motivating people to live out their passion and living out his passion by playing golf in all 50 states during his 50th year. Follow him on his journey at www.wellness101tv.com and www.facebook.com/wellness101tv. His program is donor and sponsor supported. Want more of the good life through education about nutrition, fitness, eco-friendly living, wellness destinations, events and info on wellness practitioners? Support his efforts to bring you more of the good life at www.gofundme.com/wellness101. Visit that website to get your Wellness 101 hat or True Champion’s book, attend a Wellness 101 event, or become a sponsor to get your wellness-oriented company visibility to an audience that is more than 1.3 million people strong through Wellness 101’s media partnerships and growing daily.