CommonGround Draws Accolades

Last week, CGA executive director Ed Mate was asked in a meeting what there was to point to, 15 months after the opening of CommonGround Golf Course, to demonstrate that the CGA and CWGA are meeting their mission with the new facility in Aurora.

“Interesting you should ask,” Mate responded.

Suffice it to say the timing was right for him to rattle off several tangible signs that the CGA and CWGA are indeed on the right track in their efforts to grow the game through numerous initiatives at CommonGround, the course they own and operate.

Just this month, CommonGround and the CGA have drawn national recognition for junior development and utilization of re-used water to irrigate the course.

In its September issue, Golf Digest magazine named the CGA one of five winners of 2010 Junior Development Awards, both for programs at CommonGround and for the association’s extensive junior tournament schedule.

In addition, CommonGround was recently named one of eight national winners of the WateReuse Award of Merit, given by the WateReuse Association. CommonGround was honored for its practice of exclusively utilizing re-used water in irritating the course, as well as for water conservation efforts. It’s all part of ongoing efforts to keep CommonGround as eco-friendly as possible.

“It’s the right thing to do, to use a water resource that there’s not a lot of uses for,” said Tracy Richard, director of agronomy at CommonGround, who will accept the award Sept. 13 in Washington D.C. at the 25th annual WateReuse Symposium.

“It really is important that all golf courses get off of (irrigating with) potable water if they’re on it,” Mate added.

Denver Water, which delivers CommonGround’s effluent water, nominated the course for the honor. CommonGround was one of 55 nominees.

On top of the junior-development and water-reuse honors, the CGA and CWGA were informed that Tom Doak, whose Renaissance Golf team designed CommonGround, will hold its annual Renaissance Cup tournament at CommonGround this year, on Oct. 9-10. This will be the 11th Renaissance Cup, and it’s known for drawing some heavy-hitters in the golf industry, including friends, clients and associates of Doak, officials from governing associations in the world of golf, and prominent people who rank courses.

The event has been played around the world at Doak courses, including at the Renaissance Club in Scotland last year.

“It’s very gratifying that they think enough of CommonGround that they would choose to host their most prestigious, most important event of the year at CommonGround,” said Mate, who knows the event will be a great showcase for CommonGround. “That’s really going to be neat.”

As for the Golf Digest Junior Development Awards, the CGA and CommonGround are among the winners recognized on page 58 of the magazine issue currently on newsstands. Included is a large photo of CommonGround co-director of instruction Gary Davis working with 6-year-old Nelan Benjamin on his putting stroke.

“This year’s honorees are bringing kids into the game and, more important, finding ways to keep them playing,” the magazine noted, stressing the need for innovative programs that address accessibility and affordability issues.

In particular, Golf Digest pointed to the nine-hole CommonGround Kids’ Course, which is a focal point for development and outreach programs. The Kids’ Course, funded in part by a $175,000 grant from the USGA, features $5 green fees that are waived for youngsters who participate in one of CommonGround’s junior programs. Among the groups that play the Kids’ Course for free are Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Open Fairways, Special Olympics and LPGA-USGA Girls Golf. In addition, CommonGround features a full-fledged caddie program — a rarity at public courses in Colorado.

Golf Digest is “recognizing everything we’ve done leading up to the (May 2009) opening,” Mate said. “I look at it more as a couple-year award than just what we did this particular year.”

All in all, Mate sees the awards and the Renaissance Cup as confirmation that CommonGround is living up to its mission as a key component in growing the game.

“Everything is really starting to jell at CommonGround, which is a testament to all the people who were part of building and constructing it, and equally important the people responsible for maintaining it,” Mate said.

CommonGround Golf Course is located in Aurora and Denver, at 1st Ave. and Havana.