Construction progresses on new North course at Flying Horse

  • Flying Horse

    Construction work in progress on the new Phil Smith-designed North course at The Club at Flying Horse

  • Flying Horse

    Bunkers on the new course have been lined using the Capillary Concrete system

  • Flying Horse

    The round begins with an elevated tee shot

Richard Humphreys
By Richard Humphreys

Construction work is nearly complete on the new North course at The Club at Flying Horse in Colorado Springs, Colorado, designed by golf course architect Phil Smith.

Smith helped former boss Tom Weiskopf build the first course at Flying Horse, which opened in 2005. This project is Smith’s first 18-hole course since starting his own firm.

“Truly, this is one of the best sites I have ever got to work on,” said Smith. “The site sits on both sides of the Palmer Divide, at 7,600 feet above sea level. To the west of the divide is pine forest, while to the other side is open prairie. The golf course occupies both landscapes – the first four holes are a loop through the forest, while holes five to ten sit on the prairie land, after which the course returns to the forest. The key to the design was ensuring that the holes in both settings provide an equal challenge.”

Watch: Video visualisation of the new North course at Flying Lodge

In total there will be 283 home sites. The first phase of the project includes 80, most of which have been sold. Smith says the housing is low density and will not impact adversely on the golf course. “Most holes have between four and six adjacent lots, and they’re pretty big,” said Smith.

“Players will begin the round with an elevated tee shot off the first hole that frames spectacular views to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak. The first four holes include three par fours that are almost exactly the same length – but they won’t play the same because the dramatic elevation changes and the prevailing winds will create a variety of shots.”

Speaking in a blog post on the club’s website when construction work began, Smith said: “Rarely, do we as golf course architects find a combination of scenic distant mountain views, majestic trees, open prairies, undulating terrain, natural drainage-ways and rock outcroppings. It became paramount in my mind that above all, the land would need to dictate the flow and strategy of each hole.

“In 2012 I began visiting the site dozens of times to be certain each hole at Flying Horse North was placed properly. Jeff Smith, Doug Stimple, Fredo Killing and Dan Hawkins have been by my side every step of the way, ensuring each hole’s proper placement in the overall master plan. Above all, the vision of Flying Horse North is that each golf hole will appear as though it always existed. All we did was clear a few trees and grass the fairways. Simply put, the purest form of golf should pit player versus nature.

“The course will stretch over 7,150 yards from the tips as a traditional par 72. The fairways meander through the natural contours and the greens are merely an extension of each fairway. The bunkers will have an informal naturalistic form that enhances the natural look of the site.”

The Capillary Concrete liner system has been installed by contractor Frontier Golf in all bunkers. “In my view, bunkers set the tone for the golf course,” said Smith. “Those in the forest are smaller than the ones on the open holes, and because of the nature of the site, I’ve opted for a broken line edge.”

Grassing is about to begin, and the course is expected to open by summer 2020.