Road Holes — 15 January 2013 by Bob Sherwin
Top Five: Wyoming

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 final installment of the 25-part series focuses on: Wyoming.

NO. 1 COURSE: POWDER HORN

LOCATION: Sheridan

DIRECTIONS FROM BILLINGS, MT.: Head east on I-90, 127 miles to exit 25, Big Horn/Coffeen Ave. Turn right on E. Brundage Ln. Turn left on Coffeen Ave. and continue on WY-335. At Hwy 161, take a left.

PHONE: 307-673-4800

OPENED: 1997 (Architect: Dick Bailey)

GREEN FEES: Rates vary, check the web site: thepowderhorn.com/sites/courses

LAYOUT: (Mountain) par-36, 3,443 yards (Stag) par-36, 3,491 yards (Eagle) Par 36, 3,673 yards (five tee positions for each)

LOWDOWN: There are actually three distinct nine-hole courses, Mountain, Stag and Eagle. The Mountain features a replica of the famous Swilcan Burn Bridge at St. Andrews in Scotland. The course has 30 bunkers with a links-style feel to it. The Stag course is closer to a western U.S. style, with long open fairways along with a mix of woods and wetlands. The Eagles also introduces plenty of ‘wet’ hazards and lush meadows. Powder Horn has been honored nationally as the best course you can play in Wyoming for the past six years by Golfweek as well as one of the top 100 ‘Modern’ courses.

SIGNATURE HOLE: (Mountain) No. 1, par-4, 350 yards. A tough opening hole has a somewhat hidden view of a narrow creek that runs in front of the green. Careful as you approach. You then cross over the replica Swilcan Burn Bridge. (Stag) No. 3, par-5, 564 yards. Your tee shot is fairly routine but your approach must be accurate as you hit over a wide and wandering body of water to the green. (Eagle) No. 8, par-4, 392 yards. Water is your enemy here as a creek flows all along the right side then meets up with two ponds around the green. You can bail out right but go for it already.

Jackson Hole

NO. 2 COURSE: JACKSON HOLE

LOCATION: Jackson

DIRECTIONS FROM DOWNTOWN: Head north on N. Center St. then turn left on E. Deloney Ave. Turn right N. Cache Dr./US-189. Continue for 6.8 miles. Turn left at Golf Course Rd. then left and Spring Gulch Rd. and look for the course.

PHONE: 307-733-3111

OPENED: 1963 (Architect: Robert Trent Jones, Jr.)

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

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,168 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: It’s hard to imagine a more majestic backdrop to a golf course in this country. The mighty Grand Tetons loom above the layout, particularly on the back nine. And the course ain’t so bad either, especially after a $15 million renovation by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. and few years back. More than 500 yards was added to the layout, 20 new tee boxes were built and the first and 15th holes were redesigned. This is a semi-private course with limited guest opportunities. Call ahead for tee times.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 14, par-4, 438 yards. You tee off looking straight into the Teton’s snow-covered peaks but don’t be distracted. There is a long water hazard on the right, two bunkers on the left and two protecting the green. It’s a breath-taking walk to the green.

NO. 3 COURSE: TETON PINES 

 LOCATION: Wilson

Tetons Pines

DIRECTIONS FROM DOWNTOWN JACKSON: Head west six miles out of Jackson on Hwy 360/Moose Wilson Rd. Turn left at Clubhouse Dr. Course is on the left.

PHONE: 307-733-1733

  OPENED: 1987 (Architect: Arnold Palmer/Ed Seay)

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

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,412 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Voted annually as one of the best if not the best course in the state and one of the top 75 resort courses in the country by Golf Digest. It’s as good of a mountain course that you can find. It’s spectacular, primarily because of the Teton Mountains in the distance. There also is abundant wildlife, including elk and buffalo roaming through. The final four holes are demanding. This is a semi-private course so guests have limited availability for tee times. Check with the clubhouse.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 16, par-3, 202 yards. Majestic. The Tetons loom above the hole while a large lake sits in front. You need to carry the entire distance over water. A knee-knocker.

NO. 4 COURSE: ROCKELLE RANCH

 LOCATION: Rawlins

DIRECTIONS FROM DOWNTOWN RAWLINS: Head east on W. Spruce St. and turn right on 2nd St. Take the third left onto W. Cedar St. Turn left at Airport Rd. Turn right at Mahoney St.

PHONE: 307-324-7121

OPENED: 2004 (Architect: Kenneth M. Kavanaugh )

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

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,925 yards (five tee positions)

LOWDOWN: This is a open fairway, almost treeless tract just outside the city limits. There are five lakes on the courses, affecting seven holes. It’s a long course from the back tees but the mountain air, dry conditions and mountain air can help the average hitters.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 13, par-4, 434 yards. This is a severe dogleg, almost a right angle left. If you don’t get your drive out far enough – or you end up in the fairway bunker – you’ll need to carry your approach shot over a large body of water to a small green protected by a bunker in front, a bunker right and a bunker behind.

Purple Sage

NO. 5 COURSE: PURPLE SAGE

 LOCATION: Evanston

DIRECTIONS FROM EVANSTON: Head north on Hwy 89. Turn right on Riverdale Rd. and you run straight in the parking lot.

PHONE: 307-789-2383

OPENED: 1953

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

LAYOUT: Par 72, 7,000 yards (four tee positions)

LOWDOWN: Just the name elicits an image of rolling hills, native grasses and mountain ranges. The course sits at 7,000 feet elevation so it’s going to be dry much of the playing season and the ball is going to fly and roll. It’s is one of the oldest courses in the state, opening in 1953 and its architect is not identified.

SIGNATURE HOLE: No. 18, par-5, 584 yards. This one doglegs left but don’t cut it too close. A water hazard borders the left side and runs most of the length of the hole. There also are left-side fairway bunkers, a protective bunker in front of the green left and another one in back.

– Bob Sherwin

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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 44th 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 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. He won't win the club championship any time soon with his 14 handicap and default-swing slice but he does have 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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