YOUR FIRST ROUND OF THE SEASON
Colorado golf courses took in some welcome water this winter and enjoyed a respite from footsteps and cart traffic. It’s going to be a great season for our game – eventually. With most mile-high courses not even open this year until well into February, it could take some time for conditions to come around.
That makes spring a good time to seek out the courses at lower elevations or in windswept areas where the snow made an earlier exit. I checked in with some never-say-die golfers for five off-the-beaten-path possibilities for your first official round or Colorado golf getaway of the year.
1. Walking Stick (Pueblo): Walking Stick takes pride in staying open all year when conditions allow, and, even at 4,700 feet, the course always ranks high on the desperation lists of players waiting for the snow to melt in 5,280-foot high Denver. Speaking of walking, consider the Sunday brunch buffet as a prelude to your 18-hole calorie burn.
2. Desert Hawk at Pueblo West: Desert Hawk, set in a residential community with a mountain backdrop, claims to be Pueblo’s best manicured option, and reviewers do rave about the conditions year-round. The flat, walker-friendly layout plays long at 5,588 yards from the front tees and 7,351 all the way back, with the latter’s par 5s including one at 557 yards, one at 577 yards and one at 588 yards. Finish with the foursome-size Super Nachos.
3. Tiara Rado (Grand Junction): Grand Junction’s municipal courses, at 4,700 feet, opened to walkers early in February, long before everyone else in the state. This one’s pretty special, with views of Colorado National Monument, the Bookcliffs and Grand Mesa. More than 90 species of birds call the course home – no doubt thanks to the many water hazards that keep players on their tiptoes.
4. Elmwood (Pueblo): The tree-lined 27 holes here include “the short nine,” at 2,119 yards, and a par-70 18-hole course ranging from 5,300 to 6,500 yards. There’s a little more shade than at Walking Stick, but as with Walking Stick breakfasts here win raves; the mini cast iron skillets make the occasional frost delays somewhat welcome.
5. Sky Ranch Golf and Grill (Sterling): Here’s a corner of Colorado that might not be on your radar. Sky Ranch opened in 1916 as Sterling Country Club, one of the original five golf courses in Colorado. Even at 3,874 feet, Sterling got hammered by the late-December and January snowstorms, but the spring winds took care of all that quickly. Play Wednesday through Saturday so that you can enjoy the Grill afterward.
Veteran journalist Susan Fornoff has written about golf for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, ColoradoBiz magazine and her own GottaGoGolf.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.