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Colorado National Golf Club: Home of the Buffaloes

Mar 2, 2009

Colorado National Golf Club

BOULDER - Les Fowler had a dream.  Mark Simpson had the same one.  

                The two head golf coaches at Colorado, each for 29 years between 1948 and 2006, longed for the University of Colorado to have its own golf course.  That became a reality on Monday when school officials announced that golf alum Steve Kerr has purchased Vista Ridge Golf Club in Erie and has signed an agreement with the school for the course to serve as the home complex of both the men's and women's golf programs under a new name, Colorado National Golf Club.

Kerr graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver and was one of Fowler's last recruits, playing under both coaches as Simpson took over in the middle of his Buffalo career.  A long-time supporter of CU's golf teams, Kerr remained close with Simpson through the years and saw his daughter Erin become one of CU's first real stars of its fledgling women's program.  She graduated from CU in 2003 as the school's all-time leader in stroke average and is now playing professionally.


            Kerr's purchase of the entire operation and subsequent licensing agreement with his alma mater will now provide Colorado's men's and women's programs with one of the finest arrangements in all of college golf.  Current CU head coaches, Roy Edwards (men) and Anne Kelly (women) will now be able to compete nationally on a level playing field.


"We are extremely excited about the impact Colorado National will have on our golf teams, alumni, university, and community," Edwards said.  "In studying the many different university golf courses across the country, we feel we have a model that encompasses the positives of each while fitting the specific strengths of CU and the Denver-Boulder metro area. 


"This could not have been done without the initial leadership of coaches Les Fowler and Mark Simpson, who both spent a tremendous amount of time and energy on similar projects." Edwards added.  "For a variety of reasons, we were not able to bring those to fruition.  However, Steve (Kerr), athletic director Mike Bohn and CU Chancellor Bud Peterson were all instrumental in making possible the dreams of Coach Fowler, Coach Simpson and many others.  Their spirit is very much alive in this project."


"Valorie Simpson (Mark's window) told me a story of how Steve came to visit Mark in his hospice before Mark passed away," Kelly related. "They were talking and making plans for a CU golf course.  Mark could barely speak above a whisper. Steve has his notepad and wrote down everything Mark dreamed of for CU golf and a golf course.  Steve promised Mark he would make his dream come true. 


"Steve Kerr is a man of his word, a loyal Buff and a true friend," Kelly said.  "Today is a very exciting day and I am honored and honored to have the women's golf program be a part of it."


                Kerr floated the idea of purchasing and/or developing land in or around Boulder to build the school a course, but that became unrealistic due to several factors.  Edwards and Kelly then suggested models in place at Texas A & M and the University of Washington, where local courses were purchased and then for all intents and purposes were basically donated back to the schools for their privileged use without any of the financial responsibility or liability for owning or operating the course.


                Kerr liked the idea and as it became more of a reality, Bohn and Peterson became integral players to make CNGC happen.  Knowing Vista Ridge was attainable, Kerr worked to acquire the property to set everything in motion by the end of last summer.


The new primary (above) and secondary (below) logos of the Colorado National Golf Club

                CNGC and the school have signed a long-term licensing agreement for it to be the exclusive home golf course of the CU men's and women's golf programs and will utilize the primary athletic mark and a newly created secondary logo in all branding efforts.  The club will feature CU memorabilia from all sports, highlighted by CU Golf All-America Awards and already has plaques on display, as well as Simpson's last golf bag he maintained as head coach.


                The club is in the process of transforming its look and incorporating the CU brand.   New golf carts have been ordered, 71 of which will be black and gold with the CU logo, with 11 others to represent each rival school in the Big 12 Conference.  Each cart will eventually be equipped with a past or present Buffalo celebrity welcoming the participants to CNGC.


                All six Big 12 Conference South Division schools have home courses, along with Iowa State and Kansas State in the North.  Locally, the Air Force Academy and Colorado State have official home courses.


The course will remain open for public play as well as tournament play, both amateur and for charity.


Matt Schalk will remain as the club's director of golf and general manager, and Jason Dumler will continue as head professional; both are native Boulderites and Schalk at one time served as a volunteer assistant coach for the Buffs.  The championship configuration of CNGC is 7,676 yards with a par-72 layout, though there are six tee boxes, the shortest all the way down to 4,790 yards with four in-between providing every golfer to play in his or her own comfort zone.  CNGC is located at 2700 Vista Parkway (Colorado Highway 7), about two miles west of Interstate 25.


                On May 2, the men's and women's teams will host a celebration of Colorado Buffalo Golf, which will include an official dedication of the new complex, Ralphie, CU's live buffalo mascot, youth clinics, and alumni and media events.  Information on that event will be released in the near future.