Molly McMulligan’s Fab 5

Colorado golf travel tips

I’ve got my Dream Golf Vacation raffle ticket and can’t wait to win a trip to a famous resort in Hawaii, Florida or even Ireland! But should some other number be called for that, there’s always Colorado. With world-class destinations like Aspen, Keystone, Breckenridge, Telluride, Durango and, yes, Denver inside our borders, how bad can that be? Maybe you’d like to “golf and guzzle,” mixing wine tasting in Palisade with golf in Grand Junction? Or, consider the McMulligan household favorite, Grand County’s diverse lineup of courses set amid beautiful hiking and watersports.

Wherever the destination, tee off with these strategies in mind.

Check for road conditions. In spring and fall, that includes checking the weather forecast along your route in case there’s snow. But then there’s summer, when snow is not a worry but road repair and construction peak. I recommend visiting CDOT’s website for active projects – there’s even a signup button there for travel alerts along your route. And do map out your route before departure. Believe it or not, Colorado still has dead zones here and there where your GPS will take its vacation before you get to yours!

Make tee-times, or at least plan them. If you really want to play Pole Creek or Fossil Trace on a particular day and time, you can book online far in advance, and you should. Or maybe you’re a traveler who prefers some spontaneity; when I say “plan them,” I mean call the golf courses and ask what blocks are taken by tournaments and leagues, so you can at least work around those.

Check for golf/lodging packages. Colorado has some wonderful destination resorts that give guest access to their otherwise private golf courses – particularly in the Colorado Springs zip codes, with Broadmoor, Flying Horse and Garden of the Gods beckoning. But even in places like Breckenridge or Winter Park, you may find a vacation rental that has access to discounted golf. Some of the management companies may even partner with a local golf course. One caveat: We chose a lodging once based on its offer of a free daily round at a local course, but when we tried to book our tee-times, that offer was rescinded. So check the fine print.

Consider the altitude, even if you’re already a mile high. Summer golf trips to the mountains can result in headaches and sleeplessness, or worse, say UC Health researchers. Start your trip with lots of water and without lots of alcohol, and take it easy at first. Don’t even think of playing 36 the first day.

Keep your cool. And, yes, this one has a double meaning. Use a cooler and some ice packs to preserve toiletries, wine and any perishables if you are golfing to or from your destination. But also practice deep breathing exercises for those things that inevitably don’t go as planned. Vacation golf has its challenges. You’re not used to the course, the altitude, the mosquitoes. So be a goldfish and take the double-bogeys in stride with the birdies, company and scenery.

Veteran journalist Susan Fornoff has written about golf for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, ColoradoBiz magazine and her own She became a CGA member when she moved from Oakland, CA, to Littleton in 2016, and ghost-writes as “Molly McMulligan,” the CGA’s on-course consultant on golf for fun. Email her at


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