Just a half-hour from the Breaking Badlands of Albuquerque sit the scenic Sandia Mountains, covered in ponderosas, spruce and just a thin layer of snow. And in those mountains sits one of the nicest golf courses in all the southwest, the Golf Magazine #34 -ublic and Golf Digest #46-ranked Paa-Ko Ridge. And I finally got to get a round in with a fan of the blog. Bert came down from Alaska to pick up a car which he then drove from New Mexico way back up to Anchorage, some 4,200 miles up north. Crazy.
Two words that don’t exist in Arizona golf: Frost Delay. After three summers in the desert, it felt refreshing to be freezing cold again. Once the course opened at 8:15, it was still about 42 degrees with an icy wind blasting, chilling my Sonoran blood. As enjoyable as it was getting reacquainted with the feeling of shivering and clutching handwarmers like they are life-preservers, I putted out on number 1 and just about ducked into the bathroom across the cart path and hunkered down for winter. But, I fought on, like Ernest Shackelton would’ve. Mostly because I had an early-afternoon flight to catch. Once my face started to thaw out I began to appreciate how awesome Arrowhead Golf Club is. Nothing like it. All I really need to do is put up the pictures. That’s all you’re gonna notice, they’re that good. Even my little pocket Nikon captured how special this place south of Littleton is. I’ll waste no time getting to it. My fingers are still frozen. The fact I put up a front-side 39 is a miracle in these blustery Arctic conditions. The back-nine 49 is less of a surprise. Oops… Continue reading Arrowhead Golf Club→
High up in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by thousands of evergreens and snow-covered peaks, sits Breckenridge Golf Club. And I do mean high. At the 8th tee of the Beaver 9, you are 9,426 feet above sea level. Which means if you really pop up a driver up in the air, you can almost launch a ball to an altitude where it would be safe to turn on portable electronics and cell phones, as long as they remain in “Airplane Mode”. The tricky thing is, though, that never on the golf course does it really seem like you’re at nearly 10,000 feet. There are some slight elevation changes, but none of the hundred-foot drops that you might expect playing atop a mountain range. It makes it even more fun, because the layout is similar to many others around the country, meaning you get to experience what it’s like to play golf like a tour pro and their drives topping 300 or 320 yards. The setting is amazing. Despite being only fifteen minutes from Main Street, it feels isolated. There is one road that has a bit of traffic on the Bear 9 and some holes are bordered by million-dollar cabins, but for the most part it is the golf course that takes center stage. There are 27 holes at the club, the Bear, Beaver and Elk. We played the Beaver/Bear circuit, and hopefully I’ll come back for the Elk. Looks are deceiving here. The golf may look simple and easy at times, but this is one tough course. Don’t even think about playing the Nicklaus tees and their 147 slope from nearly 7,600 yards. Altitude or not, that’s a lot of turf. Continue reading Breckenridge Golf Club→
Eagle Vail Golf Club served as the opening round at the 2nd Annual Hacktus Open Invitational, which is now represented by an ugly cowboy gecko statue instead of that majestic crystal cactus. And I know I picked a good course when five contestants, of five wildly different skill levels, all agreed on how beautiful and fun it is. Eagle Vail is the perfect example of mountain golf, and peaking at 7,805 feet on the 18th tee box, it is most definitely in the mountains. There are majestic Douglas firs, flowing streams and leafy aspen trees. While they are captivating, those elements can also mess up a hole pretty badly. My last hole finished with a punch out that went into a group of four aspens, pinballing off each trunk before being spit back into the rough ten yards away. But of all the mountain courses I’ve been to, which unfortunately isn’t too many, I can tell this is one of the fairer ones. The course won’t beat good shots, although whoever places the pins will. An absurd number of flags were on some treacherous slopes where three-putts would be considered a good finish. The only real drawback at Eagle Vail is the one hole where you get a view of the Wal-Mart and Home Depot across the I-70. Continue reading Eagle Vail Golf Club→
A few miles south of Littleton, Colorado is The Golf Club at Ravenna in a private country club that wanders through the foothills of the Rockies. A new course that opened in 2007 and a Jay Morrish design, there is a lot to like about Ravenna. It presents a tough challenge but offers a set of tees for every skill set. The fairways are pretty hittable but sand traps are well positioned to take in any errant shots. The greens will be what you remember most about playing this course. They’re as well-maintained as any, smooth and consistent while also soft and receptive to well struck irons. But there are swales aplenty and the surfaces are as quick as Augusta’s on an Easter Sunday. And even though it’s understandable that everything will break towards Denver, which can be seen way off in the distance to the north, it’s still hard to watch a putt you swear should break off the ridge away from the valley and stubbornly refuse to. Continue reading The Golf Club at Ravenna→
I set a goal in 2011 of playing at least one round of golf in all 50 states by 2021. This is a quest to play some of America’s finest courses in every state, even the flyover ones…