From the vast plains east of Denver to the snowcapped peaks to the west, Colorado is blessed with an extraordinary landscape, perfect for dramatic golf courses.
With more than 200 public and resort courses in the state, designed by world-famous architects and tucked into the most scenic nooks and crannies, the lush green fairways nearly outnumber Colorado’s renowned ski slopes. Here's a look at some of the best public and resort golf courses you can play that are easily accessible from Denver.
Fox Hollow Golf Course offers 27 championship holes on three distinctly different nines, wide open spaces, Rocky Mountain vistas, sparkling streams and wildlife. A choice of five sets of tees allows for all golfers to feel at home. With the potential combination of different nines and different tees, the avid golfer need not tire of playing at Fox Hollow. Golf Digest recognized Fox Hollow as a Top 10 course in its category. After golf, The Den at Fox Hollow offers great food and drink.
Home to all three Colorado Open Championships and located 20 minutes from downtown Denver, Green Valley Ranch Golf Club is in a perfect location for golfers looking for a convenient and challenging round. Make par or better on each of the last three holes and you'll earn a free drink. That's because the course's homestretch is one of the toughest in the state, especially the 639-yard, double-dogleg eighteenth. There's also an outstanding par-three course and the renowned McGetrick Golf Academy, making Green Valley Ranch one of the most family-friendly courses in Colorado.
Aside from Jim Engh's ubiquitous multi-tiered greens and deep grass-faced bunkers, you'll have to navigate around the ruins of a chimney in the middle of the first fairway as well as rusted mining equipment and a series of rock outcroppings and cliffs on two of the back-nine's par fives. Some might consider such hazards gimmicky, but almost all agree that Fossil Trace is downright fun. Book your tee time early, as this Golden experience tends to fill up fast.
There's little wonder why Colorado AvidGolfer's readers have consistently rated Arrowhead as Colorado's "Most Scenic Course" and the "Best Course to Bring Out-of-Staters." Robert Trent Jones Jr.'s 6,636-yard 1974 masterwork weaves through towering sandstone monoliths and canyons setting up some of the most awe-inspiring views you've ever witnessed on a golf course-or anywhere. With upgraded maintenance, course conditions now rival the majesty of the surroundings.
Former PGA Tour great Tom Weiskopf seems to have a knack for designing mountain courses and The Ridge at Castle Pines is a prime example. Located just minutes outside of Denver in Castle Rock, The Ridge is nestled into towering pine forests and offers two distinctly different nines. The front nine on this 6,939-yard layout is closed in by homes, but features some thrilling holes, like the downhill par-four ninth that sets up unobstructed views of Pikes Peak. The more secluded back nine runs through dense pines and outcroppings. Consistently rated the "Best Course to Hold an Event" by Colorado AvidGolfer magazine, The Ridge also offers top-notch dining, service and one of the best clubhouses in the state.
Pete and Perry Dye crafted Riverdale Dunes, which is located in the northern suburb of Brighton. What the course lacks in dramatic tee shots and scenery, it makes up for in strategy and solid design. Each hole cuts through rolling grass knolls, and several holes, like the intimidating par-four fifteenth, border one of the site's enormous lakes.
Located in Larkspur, 30 minutes south of Denver, The Golf Club at Bear Dance was rated the "Best Public or Resort Course" in the Denver region for 2008 by Colorado AvidGolfer's expert panel. Stretching to more than 7,200 yards, Bear Dance features a variety of challenges and wickedly tough greens. Very few homes border the course giving it an isolated feel. Bear Dance is also home to the Colorado PGA Historical Museum.
Colorado AvidGolfer's panel ranked the Raven the "Best Public or Resort Course (Mountains)." Competition for this honor has been increasingly fierce as courses keep popping up in the high country, but the Raven is consistently at the peak. The 2000 Hurzdan/ Fry/Lehman layout features some of the state's most inspiring mountain panoramas and dramatic holes, like the downhill, par-three eighth. Located an hour west of Denver, the Raven at Three Peaks is one of Colorado's premier mountain golf courses.
It's a bit of a drive from Denver (about two hours), but it's worth the day trip to experience this Jim Engh masterpiece that's woven into red crags and canyons between downtown Grand Junction and the Colorado National Monument. Dizzying tee boxes and wild fairway and green contours combine to make Redlands Mesa an unforgettable golf experience.
With a trio of world-class courses flanking an august five-star hotel, The Broadmoor is easily the most luxurious golf resort in Colorado-and arguably one of the best in the country. Stay for a few days to experience each course along with all the amenities and superb restaurants this historic getaway has to offer. Originally crafted by Donald Ross in 1917 and combined with Robert Trent Jones' 1965 design, the 7,275-yard East Course is one of only a dozen North American and Caribbean resort courses to receive a five-star rating from Golf Digest. The West Course, which is also a Ross-Jones hybrid, is considerably shorter than the East (6,954 yards) and features more doglegs and steeper elevation changes. The recently remodeled Mountain Course has a more modern design and reaches a whopping 7,552 yards. The Broadmoor was the site of two U.S. Amateur Championships, five NCAA Championships and the 1995 U.S. Women's Open, just to name a few. It will also host this year's U.S. Senior Open and the 2011 U.S. Women's Open.