Golf course architect Harrison Minchew and former PGA Tour professional Fred Funk’s new RainDance National golf course in Windsor, Colorado, will open for play on 12 July.
The course is located near the front range of the Rocky Mountains and is part of a development, led by Windsor-based Water Valley Company, which also includes 2,500 homes, a hotel, a general store, skiing and biking facilities, and an ice rink. RainDance National will also become the sister course of the 27-hole Pelican Lakes, located one mile away.
“Fred and I collaborated on the design, Fred brought his years of playing tournament golf, and I brought my 35 years of golf design experience,” said Minchew. “Fred made more than a dozen trips to collaborate on the design while I orchestrated construction from the plans I produced. I was on site almost every day during the 14-month construction period. His input was very insightful and fantastic to say the least. I would compare our partnership efforts and enthusiasm for golf course design to that of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw.”
The course is routed so that it returns to the clubhouse three times – at the ninth, twelfth and eighteenth holes. This will allow golfers to play loops of three, six, nine and 12 holes.
“In total, RainDance features about 225 feet of elevation change from the 5,000-foot highpoint on the first hole to the 4,775-foot-high lake on the fifteenth; for perspective, that’s over 40 per cent greater than the celebrated elevation changes at Augusta National,” said Minchew. “At an average elevation of 4,875 feet, scratch and professional players will likely realise a 10 per cent additional carry compared to a course at sea level. The length – the course tips out at 8,463 yards – will allow it to host men’s professional and national amateur events.”
Originally, Minchew and Funk designed the course to be around 8,000 yards, but when considering the characteristics of the land, elevation and firm fescue fairways, it led them to lengthen the layout. “With added carry and runoff, RainDance will probably play around 7,500 to 7,600 yards from the back tee,” said Minchew. “This relative length will be similar to the 7,700-yard Ocean course at Kiawah, which hosted the 2021 PGA Championship.
“While we want to boast that it’s one of the longest courses in the world, we also don’t want to discourage average players from teeing it up at RainDance because they fear it’s too long. Only under certain circumstances – professional events, member challenges, or promotional opportunities – will the course be available for play at its full yardage. On a day-to-day basis, the course will be set up with five teeing areas, with it being playable from as short as 4,989 yards.”
The course comprises five par fives, eight par fours and five par threes. “After numerous routings Fred and I settled on a routing so that only four holes travel uphill, with those minimised by carefully monitored earthworks,” said Minchew. “The focus of our design is so that the course is enjoyable for all. RainDance is designed to reward good shots and the ability to recover from marginal shots. Playing from the correct tee will allow any golfer regardless of ability to enjoy their experience.”
Minchew and Funk have also designed a 65,000-square-foot ‘G.O.A.T. Ranch’ putting green and competition short game area. This triangular-shaped green is connected to the ninth green and features six bunkers. It can also be used as a par-three hole from the first fairway or second tee, with players able to play shots from 40 to 160 yards.
The final portion of the RainDance development is now complete – 65 home sites have been built along the left side of the first hole and near holes two, three and four. “These are the only holes near the development,” said Minchew. “Therefore, the course has a wonderfully open feel to it, and it is the most natural golf terrain I have ever worked on. I have designed 75 golf courses worldwide and never have had such a great piece of land.”