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8,463 Yards From the Tips! Two 700-Yard Par-5s! North America’s Longest Course Is Massive, But It's No Gimmick

One of the shortest hitters on the PGA Tour helped design North America's longest golf course. Get to know RainDance, one hour north of Denver.

Golfers will likely gulp a few times glancing at the scorecard of RainDance National Resort & Golf, situated along the scenic front range of Colorado.

Measuring 8,463 yards from the tips, the new course one hour north of Denver is now the longest in North America and third longest in the world, with two par-5s measuring more than 700 yards each.

The development of RainDance was a collaboration between Fred Funk, who won 29 tournaments in his PGA and Champions Tour career, former Arnold Palmer Design star Harrison Minchew and Colorado land developer and generational farmer Martin Lind.

And while the course was designed with the hopes of hosting professional tournament play, the average resort golfer shouldn’t be scared off by its length. Situated at close to 5,000 feet elevation, the ball travels at least 15-20 percent farther here and RainDance is designed to play fast and firm.

“We pulled off a magical thing,” Lind said. “As you are building a golf course you get into things you don’t like but most of the time you are pinned into a corner because there is so much civil engineering around it – there are streets, there is storm water, whatever – that you can’t do anything about. But this course is unique, it has zero civil engineering restrictions because we had so much topography we could get the storm water out and I didn’t put many homes on the course so we didn’t have any constraints. When we saw something we didn’t like we just brought in more bulldozers and more scrapers and we corrected it, and we kind of painted the picture as we went on some of the holes. People are raving about it.”

And Lind is far from finished at RainDance. He plans rental cabins, a boutique hotel, and this winter is testing out what at 120 feet of vertical drop is a 10-lane tubing hill that will be the tallest in the nation once opened to the public.

“To be extraordinary doesn’t give me any pause at all,” Lind said. ”I don’t want to be normal.”

RainDance National Resort

RainDance, from behind the 12th green.

That circles us back to RainDance’s record-setting length.

In order to make sure the golf course didn’t turn into “goofy golf” or “gimmicky” once the record length was agreed upon, the design team called upon professional golfers Sam Saunders, who is Palmer’s grandson who lives in nearby Fort Collins, Colo., and Funk’s son Taylor, who plays on PGA Tour Canada, to hit test shots during the shaping work.

And while there is an occasional carry of 280 yards and the difference between the tips and the women’s tees is a whopping 3,500 yards, RainDance is getting top billing for its overall playability. In fact, Saunders and a few other pros have already carded 67s from the back tees.

“Martin wanted that length because it’s pretty cool to say your golf course is the longest in North America,” Minchew said. “When he first (talked about the length) we kind of rolled our eyes, but he ended up being correct.”

Colorado’s golf destinations rank among the best in the United States, if for nothing else the sheer beauty of the surrounding mountain ranges, landscapes and topography. And with 225 feet of elevation change and stunning panoramic views, RainDance will likely head to the top of the list for the number of phone-camera photo interruptions during a round.

It took 12 years for RainDance to come to life from the time of a chance meeting between Funk and Lind over a failed “land for jet” trade to when the first shot was launched in mid July.

Minchew even moved to Windsor at one point for an unprecedented “hands on” design presence, and Funk would fly from Florida for lengthy visits.

“If you take everybody’s ego out of everything and just listen you get magnificent ideas from everybody,” Lind said of the project in which the three became lifelong friends.

“I’m a little bit sad now that it’s opened because it was so fun building it,” added Lind. “I grew up farming so my expertise is in equipment and moving dirt, and it doesn’t give me any anxiety and that’s why we could be so creative with this project because I’m willing to commit to that. The most important part of a painting is the canvas and the most important part of any land development is the dirt so moving the dirt was a hoot.”

RainDance National, 8th Hole

RainDance's 8th hole.

Everything at RainDance is unique, down to the driving range. Lind spent 10 years collecting vintage farm equipment with an idea to place the nostalgia pieces throughout the practice area to create a rustic look.

“I have been picking at auctions for a decade getting ready for this project, buying old architectural farm equipment, all kind of trucks and all these iron wheels with 1920s and ‘30s pedigree,” Lind said. “When I go to a Topgolf I watch how novice the patrons are but how much they love aiming at something so we started putting this old farming equipment out in the driving range.”

The range would eventually acquire the name of “Funk Yard.”

“We even went to the river and found three giant dead trees and we dug big holes and planted them and instantly it came to life, and now it looked like things had died there 100 years ago. It’s really looks so cool,” Lind said.

The RainDance logo even depicts famous dancer Fred Astaire swinging an umbrella in the rain, a takeoff on the PGA Tour logo of a golfer swinging a club.

“And there is an agricultural DNA with everything at RainDance because we kept open fields in the development and orchards everywhere and kind of tried to hang on to the past and heritage of the area,” Lind said.

Situated on 325 acres, RainDance is dotted with natural canyons and expansive views that measure 30-40 miles, and is Funk’s first signature design.

“It was a dream come true to even have an opportunity and I’m hoping something will come out of this with the recognition that I think this course deserves,” said Funk, who designed the longest course in the United States despite being one of the PGA Tour’s shortest hitters. “Really my job and Harrison’s job was to try not to screw up what was already there. The land was incredible and it really made for a beautiful golf course. The backdrops are great in every direction you look.

“I had a saying that I wanted a guy to walk off 18 and say I can’t wait to do that again,” added Funk. “I’m hearing a lot of that. When people see it they will just be blown away by it.”

RainDance National Resort

No. 4 at RainDance National.