Sunday, January 1, 2006
Great golf with an altitudeThe mountain West, which incorporates the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to the Sierra Nevadas of California, Utah and upward to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is quite possibly the most diverse outdoor playground in the United States. Literally every kind of recreation is found here, ranging from winter skiing and white-water rafting to horseback riding, hiking, fishing and, of course, golf. In the last few years, the ski industry has taken advantage of what once were strictly wintertime vacation havens that stood empty in the summer months, and built golf courses to offset the busy snowy seasons. The result of this infusion is a plethora of split-personality resort destinations where thrill-seekers can ski in the winter and golf in the summer, yet eat and sleep in the same place.
No two destinations in the mountain West are anywhere near the same. High in the Rockies, golfers can expect thin air and dramatic elevation changes as well as deep, dense tree lines that frame several hole boundaries. The “mile-high” atmosphere provides a higher and faster ballflight, so golfers ought not to be surprised if they find an extra 10 or 15 yards off the tee. Out farther west, golfers will encounter the occasional hidden creek, lake or waterfall as they traverse some of America’s most beautiful forest scenery. In Utah, the Mars-like red rocks and windswept rock formations yield some golf challenges that not only beckon discerning golfers but leave them reeling over the stark contrasts between the harsh rocks and smooth, rolling turf.
In the California-Nevada Sierra Mountains, golfers can expect an entirely different personality in their golf experience. For starters, the personality out West is much less rugged, and golf courses are indicative of a more relaxing and serene persona. Places like Lake Tahoe feature golf courses and accommodations known worldwide for their attention to guest service, as well as often flawless course conditioning.
The resort town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, may appear way off a beaten path, but for golfers who have been there, they know it’s worth the trek. Whether its water recreation, hiking or relaxing indoors or outdoors at the hotel, there’s always plenty to do here, including taking a stab on the only moveable island green in the world.
And finally, the rock formations of amazing destinations like St. George in Utah are truly unlike anywhere on earth. Hard to believe at first, but the ribbons of green grass that sprawl through and around bare, red canyon walls provide some of the most rollicking golf challenges in the United States. Dense forest takes a back seat in this region, and one can expect to find several tributes to local Native American nations, many of whom to this day believe strongly in the mystical powers of rock formations that change colors as the sun wanes to set. Travelers can choose between dramatic challenges or dramatic views—or, a lot of both. Without a doubt, this amazing region is a golfer’s paradise and not to be missed.
Top 5 Jim Engh Courses You Can Play
1 The Golf Club at Redlands Mesa (Grand Junction, Colo.)—Striking images of the Colorado National Monument.
2 Fossil Trace Golf Club (Golden, Colo.)—Twenty-foot-high sandstone pillars dot the spectacular and unique 12th fairway.
3 Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course (Castle Rock, Colo.)—Sweeping views of the Colorado Rockies, wide fairways, moguls and a 528-yard par-4.
4 The Snowmass Club (Snowmass, Colo.)—A complete makeover of the 1980 Palmer-Seay layout with 360-degree panoramas of the Elk Mountain Range.
5 Lakota Canyon Ranch Golf Club (New Castle, Colo.)—Bomb drives 100 feet downhill or across ridge lines from seven tee boxes sitting on lofty, expansive stone walls.
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