Golf Par Excellence

Check out–and check in– at these top courses and hotels in Colorado’s high country

Telluride Golf Club is great for those with higher skill levels. Photography: Brett Screckengost

Telluride Golf Club is great for those with higher skill levels. Photography: Brett Screckengost

Spring’s arrived and now that golf is in—you guessed it–full swing, it’s time to hit the greens. And, whether the sport is your passion, hobby, relaxation, nemesis or tormentor, golf is made all the more unique when played among the scenic vistas, diverse topography and wildlife habitats of Colorado. We’ve rounded up of some of our favorite courses in the state, noting the unique attributes that make them so special. So, grab your clubs, restock your bag and hit the range; it’s time to prepare yourself for an adventurous mountain golf experience unlike any other.

 

BEST COURSE FOR A RARE WILDLIFE SIGHTING

The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs
This five-star world-renowned resort boasts three golf courses featuring majestic scenery, pristine grounds, luxurious amenities and more. Fred Dickman, head golf course superintendent of The Broadmoor, which has hosted several U.S. Golf Association championships, is quite proud of his landscape.

“The golf courses are dedicated to the health of the environment through ongoing participation in the Audubon Certified Sanctuary Program,” he says, adding that certification requires that the resort maintains a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas, including wildlife habitat management.

Dickman says some of the wildlife enhancement projects at the Broadmoor include converting highly sustained turf areas to naturalized areas, maintaining beehives to improve pollination and installing more than 70 Western bluebird nest boxes throughout the property.

“The implementation of these projects has a far-reaching effect beyond the intended targets,” he says. “We have seen both much higher populations and diversity of wildlife from the smallest insects to large mammals including bears and mule deer. Lately, we have even seen bald eagles patrolling our lakes for fish. It is very rewarding to see how the golf courses can support such a wide variety of wildlife through these efforts.”

Check in: Stay the night or the weekend in a luxe room or summer cottage for the full Broadmoor experience. The posh resort, which features an award-winning spa and restaurants, six tennis courts, indoor/outdoor pools, shops and more, offers dozens of different packages all summer long. broadmoor.com

 

BEST EXCUSE FOR A DRIVE

Telluride Golf Club, Telluride
Telluride’s 18-hole course is home to some of Mother Nature’s most stunning views, and, certified by the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, this dynamic course highlights nature at its core. However, you may have to brush up on our skills before hitting the links: The layout is fit for higher skill levels and those looking to take on a worthy challenge. Amenities include a complete pro shop, plus a stunning venue fit for anyone looking to host a supreme party, wedding or event. But, if it’s your first time out, don’t be intimidated; novices and rookies are welcome, and instruction is available at all times. tellurideskiresort.com

Check in: If the greens aren’t enough to get you to Telluride, pair your golf outing with a stay at the Inn at Lost Creek, an award-winning boutique hotel where the entertainment line-up is fabulous and great golf and stay packages are consistently offered. innatlostcreek.com

 

Cordillera offers dramatically different courses. Photography: The Club at Crested Butte

Cordillera offers dramatically different courses. Photography: The Club at Crested Butte

BEST NINE AFTER FIVE

The Club at Cordillera, Edwards
With three courses, there are plenty of holes to entice novices to experts to a game of nine at Cordillera, but the wildlife viewings and beautiful sunsets are pretty special, too. And, with high course elevations–ranging from 7,200 to 9,000 feet above sea level–factor in a longer sunset due to altitude (at summer solstice, you could be playing until 9 p.m. at night). Each course is dramatically different and open for varying dates—choosing one really just depends on whether you want to pick clovers, hit against the hardest par-4 in the valley or watch the deer and fox frolic at dusk.

The Mountain Course, with a peak elevation of 8,250 feet and designed by Colorado native and three-time U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin, was once the site of a working ranch. Located among rolling hills with both meadow and forest as landscape, wildlife is abundant, but birdies are rare. It’s open from Memorial Day weekend through September.

The Jack Nicklaus-designed Summit Course, located at the highest point of the Cordillera resort at 9,000 feet, stays true to its name. Expansive views go on for miles, overlooking the valley and all its grandeur, but the best part of this course is that it features five separate tee boxes, so, depending on your mood or day, you can tee off from varying levels from June to September.

The Valley Course, open from April to October, was designed by Tom Fazio and sits at 7,200 feet. Cleverly designed facing south, your ball may not go as far as it will on the other courses, but it’s still worth the challenge. cordillera-vail.com

Check in: Guests of select hotel partners, including the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, may play at the private courses (each one features its own clubhouse) during their stays. Swimming, tennis, fitness, spa treatments and more are available off the links. cordilleralodge.com

 

BEST COURSE FOR A POST-ROUND DIP

Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Colorado Springs
Just down the road from the Broadmoor resides Cheyenne Mountain Resort, another large, outdoor-focused hotel with loads of amenities. It’s a toughie with the physical layout, but you’ll find one heck of a good time and a fast-moving course. With Pikes Peak and other stunning landmarks as the backdrop, not to mention a recent $4 million in renovations, world-class PGA instruction and an unlimited golf package, what’s not to love?

Check in: The golf course is located within the confines of the Colorado Country Club, which is attached to the Cheyenne Mountain Resort & Club, home to one of the best, biggest and most serene swimming pools in the state. Plus, a wide range of food and drink options make this the perfect post-game cocktail spot before cooling off in the water or soothing your muscles in one of the multiple hot tubs on the property. cheyennemountainresort.com

Cheyenne Mountain Resort's pool is one of the best in the state. Photography: The Club at Crested Butte

Cheyenne Mountain Resort’s pool is one of the best in the state. Photography: The Club at Crested Butte

More to Explore

Best Color Palette: The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa
Not only does this majestic 18-hole, Jim Engh-designed course often rank as the number one public course in Colorado, it also sits at the base of the Colorado National Monument, and is simply spectacular as the sun slowly moves across the summer sky. Insiders suggest timing your outing to hit the last holes just at sunset in late summer for a magical color explosion. redlandsmesa.com

Highest Hole: Pole Creek
One of the highest 27-hole courses in the nation at 8,600 feet above sea level, Pole Creek, in Winter Park, is a fantastic course with great scenery, including views of the Continental Divide. polecreekgolf.com

Best Water Bunker: The Sonnenalp Club
Under the same ownership as the Vail-based Sonnenalp luxury resort, the golf club boasts a 7,100-yard championship course in Edwards, open from early April to late October. With prices from $50 and up for a game, the Sonnenalp Club’s heated pool, open year round and only to hotel guests and members of the club, is an after-the-links retreat that’s not to be missed. sonnenalpgolfclub.com

Best Course on a Ski Slope: The Club at Crested Butte
Rolling over 160 acres in the mountain hamlet of Crested Butte, this gorgeous Robert Trent Jones Jr.-designed course is world-renowned. Five tee boxes are nestled on the course among a forest of aspens and pines, a lake with trout splashing in the sunshine and incredible views of the Elk Mountain Range. The remote nature of the area lends to the mystique of the greens. theclubatcrestedbutte.com

Best Denver-Area Course and Cocktail: Inverness Hotel & Conference Center
Whether you prefer your adult beverages before, after or both, the Inverness’ golf course offers players tasty libations served at the Spotted Dog, the Englewood resort’s old world pub. A fave? The Colorado Manhattan, made with Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters and a cherry. invernesshotel.com

Best Hecklers: Rollingstone Ranch Golf Resort
Noise isn’t usually an accolade when talking about golf courses, but visit the driving range at this Steamboat Springs resort and you’ll not only see a treasure trove of wildlife, but you’ll hear it, too, as whistling marmots have become a staple at this mountain gem. rollingstoneranchgolf.com