Though snow currently blankets the golf courses in Colorado, it’s never too early to start planning your spring and summer outings. One of the best-kept secrets in the Centennial State is the fabulous golfing available in Grand County, about an hour-and-a-half drive northwest of Denver.
You have four golfing options in Grand County, each distinctly different. All of these mountain golf courses are within 25 miles of each other, offering a variety of terrain, exciting layouts, and spectacular mountain views at every turn. The average elevation of the golf courses is around 8,000 feet above sea level, which should result in longer drives because of the thinner air. So, you have no excuse for not parring every hole! Here’s the impressive lineup of golf courses that await you in Grand County.
Grand Lake Golf Course sits at 8,420 feet above sea level and borders Rocky Mountain National Park. The front nine was built in 1964, and the back nine was added in 1983. This 18-hole, par 72 measures 6,536 yards, and each hole offers a view of Colorado’s largest natural lake: Grand Lake. In addition to the snowcapped peaks of the Continental Divide, golfers can expect regular visits from Mother Nature’s outdoor crew, including deer, elk, foxes and red-tailed hawks. Many fairways are tightly lined with lodgepole pines that demand a straight, clean shot. ParView GPS systems complement the entire fleet of golf carts. (grandlakerecreation.com; 970-627-8008)
Grand Elk Ranch & Club, just south of Granby, is the newest course in the county, opened in 2002. Designed by PGA professional Craig Stadler and course architect Tripp Davis, Grand Elk is Colorado’s first Heathland-style golf course (similar to a links style). Using the natural landscape to best advantage, the par 71course plays 7,144 yards from the tips. At an elevation of 7,935 feet, Grand Elk features gently rolling fairways and strategically placed hazards along the omnipresent Ten Mile Creek and ubiquitous federally protected wetlands. In offering true Scottish-style golf, three-foot flags were introduced this year, garnering mixed reviews from locals. “A lot of golfers claim they can’t see the flag from the fairways,” said Maggie Helm, who’s been golfing for 26 years. To offset that complaint, GPS systems are available in all carts. Nevertheless, this fine track is still challenging and a worthwhile stop while visiting Grand County. An added bonus: The Grand Elk Grille features great menu selections. (grandelk.com; 970-887-9122)
Golf Granby Ranch is nestled between the sparkling waters of the Fraser River and the picturesque Rocky Mountains. Located just 15 miles north of Winter Park, this wide-open alpine meadow course lies in a secluded setting with a host of natural obstacles and the ever-present Fraser River. Opened in 2001, the course is currently undergoing a major overhaul, with assistance from Nicklaus Design. This 7,196 yard, par 72 features a host of memorable challenges, including lakes, wetlands, elevated tees, and large, deep bunkers. Perched at 8,100 feet above sea level, Golf Granby Ranch features a restaurant, GPS carts, and a 2,000-square-foot deck with spectacular views. (grandbyranch.com; 970-887-2709)
Pole Creek Golf Club, the area’s only 27-hole course, features the Meadow 9, Ranch 9, and Ridge 9. Sitting at 8,600 feet elevation, Pole Creek opened in 1983. Located 10 miles north of Winter Park, the three tracks combine for a total par of 108 and measure 10,710 yards. Seemingly at every turn you are treated to spectacular views of the Continental Divide. On the Meadow 9 and Ranch 9, golfers will appreciate the two challenging horseshoe-shaped holes that beg you to attempt a shortcut over the pine trees. The Ridge 9 features several breathtaking holes, and a never-ending amount of scenery. In addition to enjoying the golf, take a moment to admire the stately ranch-style homes tucked back off the fairways. (polecreekgolf.com; 800-511-5076)
Grand Classic Golf Tournament
The 16th annual Grand Classic Golf Tournament will take place June 19-20, with proceeds benefiting the philanthropic Grand Foundation. This two-day tournament will showcase Pole Creek Golf Club and Golf Granby Ranch. Since 1996, the Grand Foundation has granted in excess of $5 million to more than 100 Grand County organizations that provide essential services and programs, touching thousands of lives in Grand County. Details on playing, sponsoring and registering will be available in the spring at grandfoundation.com.
Along with its stellar golf courses, Grand County boasts several nice RV parks. According to Gaylene Ore, the county’s marketing representative, regardless of your preferred activity, the area’s RV parks serve as a great home base; some are even open year-round. For example, Elk Creek Campground and RV Resort (elkcreekcamp.com; 970-627-8502) is open throughout the year and features 50 full-service sites, including Wi-Fi.
Winding River Resort (windingriverresort.com; 970-627-3215) has been open to the public since 1972 and offers numerous spacious RV sites. Another year-round option is Red Mountain RV Park (redmtnrvpark.com; 877-375-9593). This resort offers large pull-throughs, Wi-Fi, and other RVing amenities. Wolford Campground (wolfordcampground.com; 866-472-4943) is another RV option in Grand County.
Though Colorado is famous for its winter activities, golfing is another option that’s gaining attention, and Grand County’s colorful courses are an experience waiting to happen.
Rick Stedman is an avid golfer, RVer, and writer. Rick writes a weekly golf blog, “The 19th Hole,” which is published every Saturday at rvlife.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.