You need to play these scenic Colorado golf courses at least once

These to-die-for courses are a golfer's dream

Let’s go on a little fantasy golf tour. It’s not going to be about the highest-rated courses, whatever that means in the subjective world of course ratings. Let’s just say, “Hey, we’re in Colorado with an unlimited budget and a month of free time. Where do we play we might not have heard of?”

This writer would start with a drive east across Colorado on I-70. Eventually you would make your way to a private course called Bally Neal, but you’ve wrangled a review round for potential membership. By now you’ve heard there were some sand dunes in eastern Colorado and western Nebraska. The owners of this private golf course/bird hunting preserve have built a close resemblance of Scottish golf, replete with course fescue turf and wild-looking bunkering amid the dunes. The views are moody and reek of pure golf.

Head back southwest until you reach Walsenberg. It has a little nine-hole course on Highway 160, near a state park. Play it as many times as you want for very little money, and enjoy the views of the Spanish Peaks, or “Breasts of the Earth.”

Next up, the Front Range, but first, check out Hollydot Golf Course in Colorado City. It’s a reasonably priced municipal operation, with 27 holes, a home-on-the-range feel, big mountain and range views without urban interference.

The Air Force Academy courses, both the easier Silver and the championship Blue, are located on some of the best land in Colorado, nestled in the pines right up to the Rockies. Doesn’t the military always get the best land? All you need is a military connection to get on.

Your next stop is at Bear Dance, which is public, usually costs below $100 and offers some incredible views of the Front Range, rolling ranch land and Palmer Divide pine ridge-type topography. Nearby Perry Park is private, but starts on the red rock views made famous by public Arrowhead in southwest Littleton. Arrowhead is not known for being in the best shape at all times, but one of a kind nature is just that. While you’re close to Denver, stop by City Park Golf Course for its iconic mountain/city skyline backdrop. There is no other.

On your way to the Western Slope, grab your fly rod and clubs and stop in on the resort course, Rio Grande Golf Club. At more than 8,000 feet, it has mountain views on every hole, and a river winds through it. Another stunning course is The Club at Crested Butte. Once into Durango, you can’t go wrong with The Glacier Club, which is the resort course that used to be named Tamarron. Steep, rugged rock walls frame the scenery here, and most tee shots are downhill. If it’s more affordable golf with a mountain view you are after, try Hillcrest, the Durango muni course. 

Head north through the mountains and the Western Slope offers a number of incredibly scenic courses, including Tiara Rado and Redlands Mesa near Grand Junction. Private Red Sky Ranch in Wolcott is an acclaimed Greg Norman design and won’t disappoint for scenery. Open to the public, IronBridge in Glenwood Springs offers stunning views of Mount Sopris. One golf official we consulted on Ironbridge reported that the course features four holes on the back nine that are built in the canyon. Lakota Canyon Ranch and Golf Club, 10 miles west of Glenwood and just below the Flat Tops Recreation Area, is also a looker. 

Head back through the north central mountains and continue your eye-candy search at nine-hole municipal Collegiate Peaks Golf Course. How could you go wrong with a backdrop of the Collegiate Peaks in your backswing?

Next on the list is the River Course at Keystone, which many golfers like for its tree-lined holes and playing along the Snake River. Nearby Raven at Three Peaks in Silverthorne was rebuilt by Tom Lehman into a formidable up and down track with views of the Gore Range and Blue River Valley.

Finally, for the coup de grace of Colorado mountain golf, head out to Tabernash and the 27 dramatic holes of Pole Creek. The course offers great shot values, views from every hole of the Continental Divide and a magnificent finishing view on the top of the Ridge nine. With your dream trip complete, have a cocktail on the outside patio, drink in the Divide and consider yourself a true Colorado golfer.

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