By BRUCE VITTNER
It is so great to hit a drive almost 300 yards. Never mind that you are playing at 8,600 feet and many of the holes are steep downhill. Getting on a 520-yard par 5 is something this writer only dreams of, but now I can brag about it. Forget missing that ten-footer for eagle, I was on in two!
The mountains of Colorado offer that light air that makes the ball seem to hang in the sky for extra seconds and travel inordinate distances. It also provides some of the best mountain vistas you could ever see. How about being told to hit your drive straight over the bull elk below in the fairway who was munching on grass with his brood behind him? Didn’t want to top that drive; and we were careful to traverse slowly around him and his six-foot horns while we went to our balls. How about seeing snow-capped mountains in the middle of September while playing in shirtsleeves? Colorado Golf!
SNEG had the chance to venture to Colorado to play with the Rocky Mountain Golf Writers in the Granby/Grand Lake region about 80 miles northwest of Denver and about 3,000 feet higher. What a treat and what a golf trip for you to consider.
Grand Lake is adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Forest and is where the Continental Divide is located. Rivers west of the divide run to the Pacific, and east run to the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, where we were playing was where the Colorado River begins its long run to the Pacific that carved out the Grand Canyon and filled Lake Mead.
There are four courses in the area, and each has its own niche. The four courses are included in a golf package that saves $125 on the greens fees no matter where you are staying. We stayed at the Inn at Silver Creek in Granby. It sits in an Alpine Meadow and is less than five minutes from three of the four courses, and Grand Lake G.C. is only 20 minutes away.
The first course we tried was Headwaters (appropriately named) G.C. at Granby Ranch. You actually see some of Frazier River running through the property that eventually flows into the Colorado. Mike Asmundson of Scottsdale designed the course. He can be proud. The two nines are very different. The front is in a mountain valley with wetlands and ponds. The huge bunkering makes for cautious placement of drives and also accurate shots to the greens. Play the par 4 sixth as a par 5, it is that tough.
The backside has more elevation changes and forced carries across ponds. Jack Nicklaus Design Group is going to be doing work on the backside, but not much is needed. The course is perfectly manicured with large, undulating greens. Sagebrush is found throughout the course if you get off the fairways, and, trust me, it is hard to find your ball in it. A nice feature of the course is the huge collection areas around the greens. Getting up and down will keep your score lower.
Grand Lake G.C. was the one we had to hit over elk. We also saw moose on our ride to the course. Their logo is a fox, because there is a fox that often comes out onto the 18th