A North Dakota native and Colorado State University graduate who lived in Colorado between 1991 and 2015, golf-course architect Jim Engh cannonballed onto the national golf scene in 1997 with Sanctuary—the surreal, vertiginous layout he designed for RE/MAX founder Dave Liniger on 225 rugged acres near Daniels Park in Sedalia. The course, which only opens for a select number of charity events, became—and remains—one of the most coveted invitations in Colorado golf. Through 2021, it has helped to raise more than $120 million for worthy causes.
During the golf-course development boom between 1998 and 2008, Engh changed Colorado’s golf landscape. Inspired by the eccentricities of courses he’d played in Ireland, he distinguished himself with idiosyncratic designs that were both popular and polarizing but never forgettable. “I took the view that I had one chance to make an impression,” he says.
And that he did, creating such memorable layouts as Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course in Castle Rock, Redlands Mesa Golf Course in Grand Junction, Fossil Trace Golf Club in Golden, The Club at Pradera in Parker, Lakota Links in New Castle, Snowmass Club, Harmony Club in Timnath and Four Mile Ranch Golf Club in Cañon City.
Golf Digest rewarded Engh’s out-of-the-box design approach in 2003 by naming him the recipient of its inaugural Golf Architect of the Year, and his layout at The Club at Black Rock in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, has remained on the magazine’s Top 100 Golf Courses since opening in 2003. He has designed celebrated courses in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska and North Dakota, as well as a dozen courses in Asia and Europe.
A golfer growing up in North Dakota, Engh credits Colorado’s prolific golf course architect Dick Phelps with giving him guidance during his years at Colorado State and after hanging his own shingle as a golf-course architect in 1991. “He advised me to get a landscape architecture degree, minor in turf science and get as much construction experience as possible,” Engh remembers.
Engh followed Phelps’ advice and has joined him as an inductee in the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.
2002 Golf Person of the Year
With courses such as Sanctuary, Red Hawk Ridge and The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa, the Castle Rock architect was transforming Colorado’s golf landscape and earning national attention.