PHOTO: RED SKY RANCH MEMBERS CLUB BY VAIL RESORTS.

When booking your next golf vacation, where will you think of first? Top picks usually include South Carolina featuring lush, manicured courses on Hilton Head Island, North Myrtle Beach, and Kiawah Island; or California, with beautiful and challenging locations such as Pebble Beach and Palm Springs. Boasting the #5 golf resort in the country (The Broadmoor Golf Course and Hotel in Colorado Springs), the state of Colorado has much to offer golfers of every skill level. Colorado’s golf destinations can be separated into three areas: The Front Range, the mountains (or, the “high country” as locals refer to it), and Southern Colorado (affectionately called SoCO). There are distinct advantages to each region.

HIGH COUNTRY

Without a doubt, the mountains offer the best views and, in most cases, incorporate the rocky terrain into the golf experience. Raven at Three Peaks in Silverthorne is a notable mountain course. Built on an old ski hill, the ninth hole features a 500-yard par 4 that travels down the side of the mountain, offering one of the most unique golf experiences anywhere.

As is typical for mountain courses, Red Sky Ranch and Golf Club is open for golf May through October only. Director of Golf, Jeff Hanson, highlights Red Sky as one of the top 100 courses in the United States. Featuring 36 well-manicured holes, club members and hotel guests alternate access between the two 18-hole courses daily. That way, guests who visit for a weekend have the advantage of playing both courses during their stay. Red Sky welcomes PGA Tour Veteran, Larry Rinker, as Director of Instruction at the golf academy during the summer months. Nestled in the Vail Valley, players can enjoy a great wildlife experience as well. Guests routinely spot bobcats, deer, and elk during their rounds.

SOUTHERN COLORADO

In contrast, Southern Colorado boasts warm temps and more than 300 days of sunshine, making this region a year-round golfing destination. Nate Erickson, Head Golf Professional at the Country Club of Colorado, will often organize member golf trips to southern Colorado. He notes that any city or surrounding area that features a large number of courses in close proximity is a great option for group (a.k.a. buddy) trips. The foursomes can take advantage of stay and play packages in which they gain access to member-only courses by staying at hotels on the properties. Groups can venture beyond the exclusive clubs to the various public courses in the area.

A great example of a southern course is Four Mile Ranch, just outside of Cañon City. Kyle Bryant, Regional Tournament Sales Director for Arcis Golf, describes Four Mile Ranch: “It is not like anything else I have ever played.” The course is a Jim Engh design. Instead of placing bunkers throughout the course, Engh designed hazards that preserved the characteristics of the land on which the course was built. Every green has two to three different tiers, with some blind approaches and great elevation changes. “It is kind of like circus golf,” says Bryant, “but I love that course.”

Other regional courses include the Trinidad Municipal Golf Course, recognized as the best value in SoCo golf, while the Cougar Canyon Golf Facility was named, “the best course to play in Colorado” by Golfweek magazine.

PHOTO: FOUR MILE RANCH GOLF CLUB

FRONT RANGE

The Front Range is the largest, most diverse region in Colorado, and includes the metropolitan areas of Denver, Boulder, Castle Rock, and Colorado Springs. Beyond offering dozens of top-notch golf courses, these cities offer access to local art, theaters, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. Nate Erickson, Head Golf Professional at the Country Club of Colorado in Colorado Springs remarks, “Besides the course itself, what is [located at] or near a particular course is what makes it stand out [among the rest].” The Cheyenne Mountain Resort— located on the same property as the Country Club of Colorado—offers stay and play packages that include access to the exclusive course designed by Pete Dye, as well as tennis, water sports, fine dining, and a full-service spa. Minutes from downtown Colorado Springs and historic Old Colorado City, and just a short “hike” from the majestic Pikes Peak, guests at the resort enjoy a golf getaway like no other! Just west of the Denver skyline, Arrowhead Golf Club is located in Littleton. According to Director of Tournament Sales Kyle Bryant, Arrowhead is one of the top three most-photographed golf courses in the country. A Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, the course is a colorful masterpiece. From the majestic red sandstone rock formations framing the manicured emerald greens to the striking blue water features, the course boasts both strategic diversity and a stunning backdrop for golf. Bryant shares an insider tip for playing the Arrowhead course: “Every green, despite what it looks like it might be doing, will break away from the foothills and toward downtown Denver.”

Up and down the Front Range, visitors and locals alike have an abundant selection of public and municipal courses. Established in 1898, Patty Jewett in Colorado Springs is the oldest course this side of the Mississippi. It features 27 holes, many with stunning views of Pikes Peak. Patrons of the course also rave about the prime rib special at the Patty Jewett Bar & Grill. Closer to Denver, both the South Suburban Golf Course and Lone Tree Golf Course come highly recommended by locals. Whether

you are a visitor scheduling your next stay-and-play trip, or a local planning a stay-cay, Colorado has tons to offer every golfer, from recreational to experienced. Colorado certainly takes the golfing experience to new heights!