Colbert Hills Golf Course
Kansas Golf Association rates Colbert Hills
By Keener A. Tippin II
Hole No. 13 at Colbert Hills.
Many adjectives have been used to describe Kansas State University's Colbert Hills Golf Course -- majestic, spacious, scenic, open range, just to name a few.
The Kansas Golf Association summed up the 315-acre, 18-hole tournament golf course on the northwest edge of Manhattan as challenging, rating it the toughest course in the state.
According to David Gourlay, director of golf operations and general manager of the course, the KGA assigned a rating of 77.5 and a slope of 152 for the course, which was the vision of K-State alumnus and Senior PGA TOUR pro, Jim Colbert, making it the highest rated course in the state.
"Most championship courses have pars of 72 assigned to them," Gourlay explained. "In order to equalize all golf courses with your handicap, a slope is assigned."
Gourlay said not all courses play to the same degree of difficulty. The slope, a value that represents the degree of difficulty of a golf course, takes into account the type of grass on the greens, the speed of greens, the width of the fairways, the number of hazards, the height of the rough, the width of the landing zones and the length of the course, before that value is assigned.
"I don't know of another course that has a higher rating or slope than the one they gave us," Gourlay said. "The significance of the rating is that it will be a very memorable and challenging experience. As a result we will have to make sure that players select the right set of tee blocks from the six options available at each hole so they don't find it too challenging to play for their skill level."
Gourlay said that while the course stretches out over 7,500 yards from the back tees, other factors including over 100 bunkers, water features, ponds and fast, contoured greens add significant challenges to Colbert Hills.
"The speed of the greens will be comparable to the Augusta National Golf Course, home of the Masters Tournament," Gourlay said.
To K-State researchers, Colbert Hills is a living laboratory for studying the environmental impact of a golf course on natural resources and to evaluate the best turfgrass management practices for the golf industry in the Midwest.
"I have to think that Colbert Hills will surpass anything that has been in Kansas before and will be comparable to any of the courses you'll see on the PGA TOUR," Gourlay said. "They could put a PGA event out there tomorrow and it would be equally as challenging as the best course played by the pros."