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Project Name: The Glacier Club
Project Address: 40290 US HWY 550 North
Durango, CO 81302
Type of Project: General Design
Project Size: 480 acres
Construction Budget, if applicable: $9M
Project Completion Date: Spring 2005
Status of Project: Complete
Owner/Developer: Rick and Andrea Carlton
Tamarron Development Corporation
Key Consultants: Russell Engineering - Engineer
Sugnet and Associates - Environmental
Harvey Mills Design - Irrigation
DW Team and Roles: Jeff Zimmermann – Principal, Co-designer
Todd Schoeder – PM, Co-designer
Brad Gustafson - PLA
Contact Person: Mal Dunlevie
Incorporate Project Dilemma:
For 25 years Tamarron thrived as a resort property in the San Juan Mountains of
Southern Colorado taking advantage of its beautiful setting. But over the years, little was
done to revive the property and keep it competitive within the resort market. How do you
take an aging resort property that was losing money, members and image and at the
client’s request, turn it into a nationally ranked private golf club?
We can create a compelling, nationally ranked, cost-effective and environmentally
friendly golf course if we respect the land, use innovative storm-water management and
engage the golfer through visual perception techniques.
How did the Project Dilemma and Project Thesis evolve from the proposal or SKO
to the final or current state?
The project dilemma and thesis evolved from a focus of financially repositioning an
aging resort to retain and attract members, into a focus of creating an innovative golf
course sensitive to the environment with minimal impacts.
• Minimizing the footprint of the golf course will reduce environmental impacts.
• Designing the course around new storm-water management systems will improve
water quality and reduce construction costs.
• Reducing the amount of irrigated turf will save water.
• Designing the golf course with risk/reward strategies will create a more
interesting and noteworthy golf course.
• Designing the golf course to blend with the natural features will integrate the
course within the native landscape.
• Utilizing natural features and strategically placed hazards will create memorable
• Creating a world-class golf course will add real estate premiums to future
• Respecting the history and traditions of golf will attract more players.
• Adding a new golf course, along with remodeling the existing course will
reposition the resort to attract new members and real estate buyers.
• Respect the vernacular of the region in design strategy, character, feature
style/placement and playability.
• Test the limits of conventional golf course design to create memorable golf holes.
• Match the vernacular and character of the remodel of the existing 18-hole golf
course to the new golf course and region.
• Route the golf course to take advantage of scenic views and use these borrowed
views to manipulate the golf course strategy.
• Create a course playable for players of all abilities but test every club in the bag.
• Design and implement 27 distinct and memorable golf holes.
• Create a natural bio-filter system to capture and treat stormwater run-off.
• Design the course with a minimal footprint (impact) on the landscape.
• Respect the natural environment, protect wetlands, provide green space and
protect/enhance wildlife corridors.
• Improve overall water quality.
• Minimize irrigated turf.
• Disturb less than .5 acres of wetlands.
• Reduce the use of potable water.
• Use effluent irrigation.
• Maintain habitat for the Willow Fly-Catcher.
• Provide access points to the bordering National Forest.
• Create a golf course that is worthy of being the prime amenity to a growing and
vibrant golf community.
• Create a trail system through the golf course for members of the community.
• Protect and highlight the historic Stage Coach Road that passes through the site
from Durango to Silverton.
• Design the course to fit the native landscape to reduce construction costs.
• Revitalize the golf course to turn operating losses into positive revenue streams.
• Design and route the golf course to increase future real estate premiums.
• Implement the golf course to the established schedule and budget.
Purpose of Project:
Tamarron was a true mountain golf course, but it was aging and dated. New owners
desired nine new holes and an update of the existing 18-hole course that enhanced,
preserved and highlighted the natural environment in order to create a memorable golfing
experience on a steep, spectacular site.
Tamarron’s setting is stunning, with picture postcard views in every direction, but over
the years, the facilities — including the irrigation system, cart path, condominiums, lodge
and the golf course itself — had begun to deteriorate. The resort changed hands many
times over 25 years, but no owner had the necessary resources or vision for rehabilitation
and it began losing a substantial amount of money. In late 2001, Tamarron was purchased
by new owners, who then hired Design Workshop to add a new private nine-hole golf
course, re-design the old course and master plan extensive new accommodations.
The designers decided that the guiding force behind the Glacier Club was to let the land
show through and fit the golf course into vernacular of the region. The site itself was not
at all domesticated. The team felt to layer in a golf course could potentially soften the
dramatic experience of the site too deeply. The team decided that they could preserve the
rugged mountain experience by allowing the terrain and its ecosystem to guide the course
design, strategy and character, for instance, by incorporating the native features, such as
rock outcroppings, wetlands, drainage ways, trees.
In response to the vernacular of the region, the team crafted a holistic vision balancing all
of the uses on the site, while also minimizing the removal of vegetation, preserving as
much of the site’s forests as possible and working hard not to displace its wetlands. For
environmental and aesthetic reasons, the designers rejected conventional storm-water
management systems of culverts and piping, structuring the entire course instead with a
natural filtration system of constructed wetlands and bio-filters. They configured
irrigation with reclaimed water and disturbed less than one-half acre of the site’s total 43
acres of wetlands. The design solution contributed to saving over $500,000 in
The design carefully fit the course to its alpine context to give golfers a true experience of
playing in rugged mountain terrain. The golf course’s greatest assets are the magnificent
views, interesting topography and rock formations that form the design details for the
course’s strategy and playability.
Role of Landscape Architect/Planner:
This was a difficult yet beautiful site. To fit the program elements onto the site, Design
Workshop provided the master planning, landscape architecture and golf design services.
Providing all services in house led to a successful project, seamlessly fitting it into a
mountain setting that met the goals of the client and was true to our narrative principles
and Legacy Goals.
Why This Project Should Win an Award:
1. The design created a new and innovative way to manage and treat stormwater
runoff on a golf course.
2. The golf course design and implementation answered the narrative principles set
forth and achieved our Legacy goals on a physically, very challenging site,
exceeding the client’s expectations.
3. The design repositioned an aging golf course originally built in the mid 1970s into
a true mountain experience, unrivaled by other mountain courses, by designing
and building hazards reflective of the mountain landscape in terms of size, shape,
character and scale.
4. The success of the design and implementation of the Glacier Club clearly
demonstrates that a platform exists and is supported by Design Workshop for
those who have a passion and desire for a specialized area in landscape
architecture. In this case, Design Workshop is now recognized as a significant
player in the design industry as reflected by three recent awards:
a) Golfweek ranked The Glacier Club as the Ninth Best Course in the State of
b) The Glacier Club was ranked by Travel and Leisure Golf at 4 ½ Stars out
of 5 Stars to Play, 2005.
c) Golfweek ranked The Glacier Club as one of the Top 100 Resort Courses to
Play in the World.
Numbe r e ight was de signed to prote c t one of the most sensitive are as of the site. The
hole loc ation was sur rounded by nume rous we tlands and se r ved as one of the primar y
drainag e cor ridors. Care ful attention was g iven to loc ating the hole to buffe r/prote c t
the we tlands, while punc tuating the dramatic views to the San Juan Mountains. During
constr uc tion, all of the environmentally sensitive are as we re prote c ted and in the end,
the e xisting we tlands we re inc re ased by ove r half an ac re. The de sign and implementation
of numbe r e ight c le arly highlights the charac te r and inte g ration of the course blending
into the native landsc ape, blur ring the transition from natural to man-made.
Hole numbe r four is a tr ue “ g em” , discove red afte r nume rous site visits and then c are fully c rafted into the
routing sequenc e and natural landsc ape. The hole c le arly demonstrate s the charac te r of the g olf course. It was de signed
using e xisting natural fe ature s to de fine/dic tate the hole charac te r and strate g y, rathe r than the more typic al me thod of
imposing an ar tific ial strate g y onto the landsc ape. Ve r y little was done to the hole in te rms of g rading and fe ature
plac ement, othe r than re storing a de func t we tland into a be autiful g lac ie r pond. As a re sult, the de sign/routing strate g y
allowed for the constr uc tion of the g olf course to come in $ 500,000 unde r budg e t.
The e xisting 18-hole g olf course was comple te ly remode led to be tte r fit the ve rnacular of the mountainous re g ion and
newly de signed Glac ie r Nine. The failing infrastr uc ture was replac ed and all of the 64 bunke rs we re re shaped in size,
sc ale and propor tion to re f le c t the sur rounding He rmosa Cliffs. Two hole s we re re constr uc ted to be come more play able
and to fit the strate g y/charac te r of the entire g olf course. By repositioning g olf hole s, the new de sign allowed for the
oppor tunity to c re ate additional deve lopment parc e ls. The rede sign of numbe r five allowed for the addition of 22
sing le - family lots. The re sult is a g olf course of distinc t identity of such c alibe r that it is luring back membe rs that
we re dissatisfied with the old course and is se r ving as the primar y amenity for the newly deve loped re sidential community.
Hole numbe r one opens the round with dramatic views to the distant Missionar y Ridg e. It was de signed to c apture the
sur rounding be auty and to buffe r the e xisting we tland borde ring the entire right-hand side of the hole. The e xisting
we tlands and native g rasse s we re used to make the hole appe ar more difficult than it ac tually play s. Multiple te e s
we re constr uc ted to allow play e rs of all abilitie s the oppor tunity to e asily navig ate the hole. In the end, the c are ful
routing of the g olf course and pre c ise positioning of hole numbe r one, saved ove r 43- ac re s of we tlands.
At a me re 325 y ards, numbe r five is as an intriguing hole and the epitome of a risk/reward strate g y typic al to the entire
g olf course. As a potentially drivable Par 4, visual pre c eption te chnique s we re used to he lp de fine strate g y. Numbe r
five appe ars long e r and more difficult than it ac tually play s due to the long views and c are fully positioned natural
hazards. The bunke ring take s on the shape and charac te r of the distant San Juan Mountains and is positioned
to dic tate how the hole is play ed. A we ll- str uck drive may c ar r y the c ente r fairway bunke r and re ach the g re en,
offe ring an e ag le oppor tunity. Howeve r, any te e - shot not pe rfe c tly str uck, may find one of the thre e fairway
bunke rs, or worse y e t, the native, out-of-play we tland on the right. The hole utilize s the e xisting we tlands, rock
outc ropping s, native g rasse s, willows, Ponde rosa Pine s and Gamble Oaks to add drama and a varie ty of strate g ic
play ing route s.
An innovat ive stormwat er manag ement
syst em at ypi cal of st andard gol f course design
was creat ed to capture al l stormwat er r unoff
and to cl eanse ( improve) wat er qual i t y.
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