Best Golf Courses in Colorado

A large state in the Mountain West area of the Western United States, Colorado includes most of the Southern Rocky Mountains as well as the western edge of the Great Plains. It is the 21st most populous state in the US, with around 5.8 million people. Its capital and most densely populated city is Denver, and it borders Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Oklahoma and Arizona (just!).

There is evidence of habitation by Native Americans and their predecessors dating back at least 13,500 years. It was heavily settled during the mid-nineteenth century and was admitted to the Union as the 38th state in 1876, hence its nickname “The Centennial State”. It features a mixed landscape of forest, plains, mountains, desert, plateaus and rivers.

Mining, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and tourism are among its main industries, but Colorado is also a center of government and defense. It is listed as one of the most educated, and wealthiest, of all the states in the US, with a high per capita and median household income.

Colorado’s climate is diverse and not always easy to predict. Unusually, the south of the state is by no means always warmer than the north. Much of Colorado is made up of mountains, foothills and desert, which can impact significantly upon temperature levels.

A History of Colorado

Colorado was a part of Spain’s New Mexico province before the US became involved in the region. In 1821, following a war which had gone on for some eleven years, Spain recognized Mexico’s independence but a later war between Mexico and the US, in 1846, saw much of that country’s northern territories ceded to its emergent neighbor, including the southern part of what is now the state of Colorado. The territories immediately to the north were at this point in some disarray, not least due to disagreements over slavery.

In 1849 the whole of Colorado was claimed by the Mormons of Salt Lake Valley as part of its self-declared state of Deseret. The United States refused to recognize the Mormon state, disputing as it did its theocratic nature and its acceptance of plural marriage.

In 1861 an Act of Congress was signed granting Colorado the status of a free territory. There was an attempt made in 1962 to incorporate the Southwestern United States into the Confederacy, but the move was repelled.

It was in 1875 that the United States Congress signed an enabling act which paved the way for Colorado to become a state in its own right within the US. This came into being in August 1876, one hundred years after the USA achieved its independence. In 1893 Colorado became only the second state in the United States of America to grant the vote to women.

Colorado and Sport

The state of Colorado is represented in most of the major sporting leagues, as well as many more of the minor ones. In football, hockey, baseball, basketball and soccer teams from the Centennial State compete with the very best in the country. In NFL the Denver Broncos have plied their trades since 1970 and won their first Super Bowl in 1997. Top-level basketball is also played out of Denver by NBA side the Nuggets. NHL ice hockey is performed by Colorado Avalanche, whilst MLB baseball is played by the Colorado Rockies. In Major League Soccer the representative side is the Colorado Rapids.

Other sports boasting competitive teams in Colorado include Australian Rules football, rugby union and lacrosse. It is also known for college athletics and tennis.

The legendary world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey was born in Manassa.

Colorado is, of course, a ski resort, with some of the most spectacular mountain views anywhere in the world – a fact not lost on golfers, to whom such scenery provides an enticing backdrop when partaking in their sport. And where golf itself is concerned, the state has hosted the US Open, the US Women’s Open, the US Senior Open and the PGA Championship, all courtesy of the Cherry Hills Country Club, a prestigious venue in the Cherry Hills suburb just south of Denver.

Top 10 Golf Courses in Colorado

Colorado has a number of golf courses which have appeared in the US Top 100 listings at various times, including a handful of public access courses. Selecting the best isn’t an exact science as it is a matter of personal preference, but these are amongst the most highly rated:

  1. Cherry Hills Country Club, Cherry Hills Village – Considered a state-of-the-art design when it was first established in the 1920s, this club in Denver is possibly best remembered for the spectacular 1960 US Open when Arnold Palmer staged what was possibly the greatest comeback in US golf history to overcome a seven stroke deficit during the final round and claim the title.
  2. Red Sky Golf Club, Wolcott – The Red Sky Ranch offers two courses, named the Norman and the Fazio for reasons which will be obvious. The Fazio course is thought of as perhaps a little more playable than the Norman course, and offers beautiful views. Both serve as public access courses in rotation whilst retaining the ambiance of a private club. Truly the best of both worlds.
  3. Colorado Ballyneal, Holyoke – A private club located somewhat off the beaten track, Ballyneal has made slow progress towards becoming one of the most sought after golfing locations in the state. Banks and punch bowl features used creatively can assist golfers in making their play work for them.
  4. The Glacier Club, Durango – Most tee shots play downhill at this San Juan mountain golf club. Both Valley and Mountain courses boast stunning views due to their location at the foothills, and besides golf the resort offers a whole range of other outdoor activities such as fly fishing, mountain biking and whitewater rafting, as well as a steam train on which visitors can travel for some fifty miles.
  5. Redlands Mesa Golf Club, Grand Junction – Situated in the far west of the state, in the high desert reaches, Redlands Mesa is generally rated as the second best of the public access golf courses in Colorado. Created by architect Jim Engh in 2001, this expansive design looks over wonderful vistas and scenery.
  6. Castle Pines Golf Club, Castle Rock – It was in 1969 when Jack Vickers engaged the great Jack Nicklaus as his golf course designer. The result was twelve years in the making, but in October 1981 Castle Pines became a reality. With first class accommodation and a classic clubhouse experience this has fast become one of the most sought-after resorts in the region for a spot of golf.
  7. Colorado Golf Club, Parker – A tree-lined classic design by Coore and Crenshaw, this is a course that is intended for fast and firm play. In fact Golf magazine has rated it the third best golf course in Colorado. Correct approach angles are critical when accessing pins on these meandering greens.
  8. TPC Colorado, Berthoud – Ranked fourth by Golfweek amongst Colorado golf courses with public access, this was designed by Arthur Schaupeter and opened fairly recently in 2018. At the time it was one of the first new golf courses to have been built in Colorado for over a decade.
  9. Maroon Creek Club, Aspen – Not just a golf club, Maroon Creek Club also offers family pools, tennis and the very best in fine dining hospitality. Meanwhile though the superb Tom Fazio golf course offers a challenging experience that makes this course truly unique and special.
  10. Breckenridge GC, Breckenridge – Three golf courses, variously named The Bear, The Beaver and The Elk. Overlooked by picturesque surrounding mountains and tall trees, the three ample nine-holes allow for some excellent play against a backdrop of truly magnificent views.

What Makes Colorado a Go-To for Golf?

The ample diversity of Colorado’s private and public access courses coupled with the finest in hospitality and sometimes breathtaking scenery makes Colorado a much valued destination for golfers pursuing their passion. Whether the object of the exercise is play some serious rounds or just to have a little fun, the state seems to offer a little something to suit every taste.

It is in particular a destination for enjoying mountain golf in an environment where many like particularly to head for in the winter, for seasonal sports or maybe to ski. Whatever your preference, Colorado promises to offer a memorable experience to any golfer or sportsperson heading out.

Phil Andrews
Phil Andrews

Phil Andrews is an English-language article writer and author of the 1970s nostalgia fiction novel The Best Year Of Our Lives. His special interests are current affairs, economics and sport - in particular soccer, boxing and golf.

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