Horse sense: Colorado developer expands winning concept

The Flying Horse The Club at Flying Horse

Horse sense: Colorado developer expands winning concept

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Horse sense: Colorado developer expands winning concept

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – If The Broadmoor, host to the U.S. Senior Open, is a national treasure, The Club at Flying Horse, located just 20 miles to the north, might qualify as a closely guarded secret among Colorado Springs residents.

The Club at Flying Horse opened a few miles east of Interstate 25 in 2005, with 1,500 homesites spread across a 1,700-acre site that is anchored by a striking Tom Weiskopf-designed course.

The success of Flying Horse has led the local developer, Classic Homes, to begin work nearby on a sister property, The Club at Flying Horse North. Architect Phil Smith, who spent 24 years working for Jack Nicklaus and Weiskopf, is well along in construction of a course for Flying Horse North. It will be Smith’s first solo design since hanging out his own shingle.

On a recent tour of the original Flying Horse with Fredo Killing, who has managed the property since its inception, one thought kept nagging at a visitor: How has this place managed to fly under the radar for more than a decade? It marries an impressive combination of Front Range vistas with lavish amenities.

Flying Horse’s 55,000-square-foot Athletic Club & Spa easily could meet the needs of the many Olympians who train in Colorado Springs. (There’s even a regulation-size basketball court with electronic scoreboard.) The practice range, smartly oriented toward Pikes Peak, is supplemented by four heated bays for year-round practice. In the Tuscan-style clubhouse, a three-story wine tower with the capacity to hold 11,000 bottles makes for an impressive entrance to The Steakhouse, a high-end eatery open to the public.

Flying Horse

The Club at Flying Horse does not lack when it comes to stunning scenery.

Nonmembers can enjoy access to these amenities and more if they stay in the luxurious, 40-room Lodge at Flying Horse, which opened two years ago next to the clubhouse. With its event space, it’s ready-made for corporate retreats or wedding parties. Nearby are four two-bedroom villas that are ideal for families and buddy trips.

There’s more, but you get the picture. If The Club at Flying Horse somehow could be transplanted to a larger market – say, 50 miles to the north, near Denver – I suspect it would have a national reputation.

That said, it’s doing just fine as is under Classic Homes. More than 1,100 homes already have been built, according to Killing.

That has led to the launch of The Club at Flying Horse North. It’s roughly the same acreage as the original Flying Horse but will have only 283 homesites ranging in size from 2.5 to 5 acres. During a tour of Smith’s routing, some 60 signs were evident, indicating which lots already have been reserved.

Visitors can clearly discern the contours of Smith’s early work at Flying Horse North, though he doesn’t expect the course to open until 2020.

When it does open, it will make a statement right from the opening tee shot – a 430-yard par 4 aimed directly at Pikes Peak, with the Air Force Academy in the foreground. It’s the sort of hero shot that sells a lot of real estate.

“We had to get that impact of seeing Pikes Peak early on,” Smith said.

The first four holes form a loop through tall stands of trees before transitioning to open prairie land for the next six holes, highlighted by the par-3 sixth across the irrigation pond.

“I grew up in Kansas, and (those holes) felt like being out on the high plains,” Smith said. “I love those distant views, and that’s why we did a lot of landform shaping – very subtle shaping just so we don’t trick it up too much – because it’s such a good piece of land.”

The par-3 11th dives back into the trees. Throughout, Smith’s routing constantly changes direction so that players will feel the full effect of the windswept site. The 12th is the longest par 4 and also plays into the wind – reflecting a lesson he learned from Nicklaus.

“He said, ‘If you don’t do it into the wind, it never plays as your longest par 4,’” Smith recalled. “That made a lot of sense to me.”

Other holes that figure to pop on the back side are the par-4 14th, with water lining the entirety of the left side, and the par-4 17th, which is defined by a rock formation on the left side of the fairway that, if cleared, should kick the ball toward the front of the green.

Though Flying Horse North, like the original Flying Horse, is a members club, Killing said he plans to offer golf packages to nonmembers when the second course opens. Gwk

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