As pristine as possible: Tiara Rado’s new No. 10 is visually appealing, intimidating

The new back nine at Tiara Rado Golf Course drew high praise Saturday from golfers at the Enstrom’s Rocky Mountain Open.

Bobby O’Hara honed his golf game at Tiara Rado Golf Course.

The 42-year-old Grand Junction native, and head golf professional at Lincoln Park Golf Course, has played “The Rock” enough times to know what he was suppose to do on every hole.

Saturday during the second day of the Enstrom’s Rocky Mountain Open, O’Hara stood in the new No. 10 tee box a tad perplexed.

“No. 10 was my first hole today, and I’m thinking ‘OK, I’m going to play to the 11th green,’ ” O’Hara said. “It was weird, and it was a different shot.”

O’Hara, and many of the 128 other players teeing off Saturday at Tiara Rado, were getting a first look at the $3.5 million remodeled back nine at the 40-year-old course.

“The players feel like the back nine is two or three strokes harder than it was,” Rocky Mountain Open Tournament Director Mike Knode said. “It’s a better test of golf, and the golf course is in the best condition they’ve ever seen.”

Tiara Rado has been involved with the RMO for the past 15 years, but the new additions give the course an entirely new feel.

Construction began in late 2009, and the course was opened for play by April. But the players in the RMO are some of the first to play the finished product.

Tiara Rado pro Zach Massey said the goal was to have the course finished by the start of the RMO.

“No. 10 opened Wednesday, and it was a little behind schedule, but we wanted to keep it as pristine as possible because this tournament is the jewel of the year for us,” Massey said. “Everyone so far has had positive comments and they’ve said (the renovation) has been a long time coming.”

The changes to the back nine included the redesign of No. 10, which used to tee off from an elevated tee box and take a dogleg left to the green. The hole now features a new lake to the right of the tee box and a dogleg right to the green.

The water hazard that borders No. 10 is one of two new bodies of water on the course that has helped in making the course more challenging.

The dirt that was dug up to create the water hazards didn’t go to waste as it was added to other areas of the back nine. Knode said the No. 18 fairway is roughly 15 feet higher.

“It’s a lot more difficult,” Massey said. “I’ve heard several comments already from the top pros saying you have to think your way through the back nine. You can’t just wail away with your driver.”

There was a wide variety of playing experience at Tiara Rado from Saturday’s professional players, ranging from O’Hara to Kyle Hansen.

Hansen is out of Redding, Calif., and had played only one practice round at Tiara Rado before Saturday’s round.

“I like the back nine and I think it’s a good layout,” Hansen said. “You can tell the two new greens (No. 14, No. 16) are very firm, but overall I really enjoyed the layout.”

Michael Baird of Castle Rock is playing in his third RMO, and added the changes affect the way you play the back nine. Baird is a big hitter, and said the changes don’t allow players to drive the greens as much.

“It favors long hitters, but just in a different way. “Baird said. “It favors them in more of a traditional way of hitting a driver and iron as opposed to trying to drive greens.”

The one thing all the pros agreed upon is the changes to the course really improve Tiara Rado as a whole.

“Visually, it’s appealing, but it’s also visually intimidating at times,” O’Hara said. “The different look makes you think about your shots a little more.”


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