Road Holes — 30 December 2012 by Bob Sherwin
Top Five: Colorado/Denver area

Where’s the best place to play golf on the West Coast? We’ll give you hundreds of choices.

Golferswest.com continues its annual assessment of the Top Five courses to play within 12 West Coast states and British Columbia. Today, the 25-part series focuses on: Colorado/Denver area

NO. 1 COURSE: BROADMOOR EAST COURSE 

Location: 1 Lake Avenue, Colorado Springs

Directions: Take I-25 to South Nevada Ave. and head west.  Merge on Lake Ave. and continue to the Broadmoor resort.

Phone: 719-577-5790

Opened: 1918 (Architect: Donald Ross)

Green fees: Rates vary, check website: http://www.broadmoor.com/east-golf-course

Layout: par-72, 7,355 yards from the farthest of four tee positions

Lowdown: Legendary course architects Donald Ross and Robert Trent Jones Sr. have put their stamp on the famed East Course, with Ross originally designing the course for its opening in 1918 and Jones re-working holes 7-15 in 1952.  The wide fairways and expansive greens can lull a golfer into a sense of security, but the trees that line every hole easily can swallow a golf ball and the greens can puzzle even the most savvy putter.  Despite what the eye may see, putts almost always will break away from the nearby Will Rogers Shrine on Cheyenne Mountain, even though it seems they are twisting uphill.

Signature hole: The par-5 ninth forces a long hitter to carry a second shot over water that fronts the green. Even a layup requires a precise third shot for a chance at birdie. Regardless the result, the ninth is one of the most picturesque on the course, with the famed Broadmoor hotel and Rocky Mountains serving as a backdrop.

Sandstone cliffs surround the 12th green at Fossil Trace

NO. 2 COURSE: FOSSIL TRACE

LOCATION: Golden

DIRECTIONS FROM DENVER: Take 6th Avenue/Hwy 6 west turning north (right) onto Jefferson County Parkway then take first left onto Illinois St. The golf course clubhouse is five blocks north, one block north of the round-about.

PHONE: 303-277-8750

OPENED: 2003 (Architect: Jim Engh)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site: fossiltrace.com

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,530 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: It’s located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain Front Range with views of Boulder and Golden Valleys. Dinosaurs walked among the fairways and greens, although considerably before designer Jim Engh unveiled his creation in 2003. Both Golf Digest and Golf Magazine voted Fossil Trace as one of the Top 10 new golf courses to play in the country when it opened.

There are also remnants of the clay mining operations and equipment throughout the layout. The course is only 15 minutes from downtown Denver.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 12, par-5, 569 yards. You have to play this hole to be believed. There are  sandstone pillars, 80 feet to more than 100 feet high, along much of the fairway and surrounding the green. The 64-million-year-old stone has trace fossils of palm leaves and triceratops footprints.

Bear Dance

NO. 3 COURSE: BEAR DANCE

LOCATION: Larkspur

DIRECTIONS FROM DENVER: Take I-25 S toward Colorado Springs and exit at Plum Creek Pkwy. Go straight through the light at bottom of the off ramp, the west frontage road heading south for five miles. Turn right at Tomah Rd. and take immediate left at Bear Dance Dr. Go three miles. Course in on the left.

PHONE: 303-681-4653

OPENED: 2002 (Architect: Corey Aurand)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site: beardancegolf.com

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,726 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: It’s a wonderful layout in which no hole is similar and all 18 are among the tall pines, with mountain ranges visible in nearly every direction. You can see the Rocky Mountain Front Range, Pike’s Peak, Dawson Butte and Devil’s Head.

There is a lot of elevation changes with numerous carries off the tees to clear waste areas. The course also mixes in plenty of water hazards and bunkers, including the ‘Bear Claw” traps on No. 6 that features 11 bunkers in front of the green. In 2006, Avid Golfer Magazine voted it the Best Public or Resort Course in the country.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 16, par-4, 431 yards. It’s a stunning view from the tee, 140 feet above the fairway. You can see Pike’s Peak and the Rocky Mountain Front Range. There’s a wide fairway to land your tee shot but don’t drift into the right-hand bunkers. Your second (or third) shot needs to clear a pond in front and right of the green. To the left are trees and a sizable bunker. It’s a thread-the-needle approach.

Ridge at Castle Pines

NO. 4 COURSE: RIDGE AT CASTLE PINES NORTH

LOCATION: Castle Rock

DIRECTIONS FROM DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Take Toll Rd. E-470 South to I-25 South. Travel South on I-25 to Exit 188/Castle Pines Pkwy. Turn right and go west two miles. Course is on the left.

PHONE: 303-688-4301

OPENED: 1997 (Architect: Tom Weiskopf)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site: playtheridge.com

LAYOUT: Par 71, 7,103 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: This course winds its way through some tree Colorado firs, as each hole has its own personality. Water comes into play on several holes and there seems to be more than the usual number of traps defending greens.

It has been selected one of the best places to play in the state by GolfWeek and the 74th best play to play in the U.S. by Golf Digest.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 5, par-5, 535 yards. On your drive, there hazards on both sides of the fairway, with homes or the right and homes and a long length of water on the left. After you get past the water, it doglegs left to a relatively small green protected by a yawning bunker.

NO. 5 COURSE: FOUR MILE RANCH

LOCATION: Canon City

Four Mile Ranch

DIRECTIONS FROM COLORADO SPRINGS: Go south I-25 and turn right on Hwy 50. After you pass Justice Center Rd. look for the course on your right.

PHONE: 719-275-5400

OPENED: 2007 (Architect: Jim Engh)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site: fourmileranch.com

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,053 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: You seem to play all the holes on ridges, with waste areas all around. You need to carry on some drives while on others you have to play safe or you could fly too far into trouble.

The course is at the gateway to the Royal Gorge with the fast-moving Arkansas River alongside. It’s a fun experience and architect Jim Engh has built that factor into his layout.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 6, par-5, 570 yards. You have to hit over a waste area on your drive then you have a decision to make with your second shot (third for shorter hitters). Your approach to the green is blind because at the end of the fairway is a waste area dropping down onto the green. It takes precision and a prayer.

– Bob Sherwin

TOMORROW: Colorado Mountains

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Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 46th year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 10 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur the 2015 U.S. Open and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for golf magazines. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men's basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, the Members Club of Aldarra near Seattle. Despite (or perhaps because) of his 14 handicap, he won the 'Super Senior'' (65 and older) championship in 2017. He has a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle, and spends part of his winters in Marco Island, Fla.

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