In the Rocky Mountains, the golf balls go farther and the vistas are prettier. Only in Colorado do golfers need to specify if their “Eagle” means attaining the ultimate two under par or the equally rare national bird is circling the course overhead. Planning your golf getaway in the mountains requires imagination on the part of the golfer. On top of the quality and challenge of the course, consider the local wildlife, cuisine, and unique amenities to be had in the Rocky Mountains.
How often can you play 18 holes while gazing at a majestic mountain range? The scenery alone makes Colorado an ideal golf destination. You can consider multiple vistas throughout the Centennial State as every type of terrain can be found here. Do you love the courses in Arizona looking over red rock, but are over the dry heat? Southwestern Colorado would be the place for you. The San Juan Mountains run from Colorado down to the Land of Enchantment; you’ll be able to play in the alpine meadows with views of the desert mesas, and not sacrifice an extra drop of sweat. If you are more amenable to morning golfing and afternoons exploring, spending time in Colorado’s Great Northwest would be best. Surrounded by the Flat Top and Zirkel Wilderness areas, golf courses in the Yampa Valley provide wide-open views to startling mountain vistas in the distance (and are home to the aforementioned bald eagles).
After you determine your region, you can choose the time of year. All alpine and front range golf courses are gorgeous in summer. Many golf courses host summer tournaments, like the Haymaker Golf Course in Steamboat Springs. On top of more typical tournaments, they also host the Parent-Junior tournament and the New Moon Glow Ball, which are great opportunities to add flair or diversity to your weekend. However, if you’re willing to be flexible, you may be able to maximize your golf season in the mountains by coming in an off peak season. The early spring and late fall are known as “shoulder seasons” in many ski town communities. Often, golf courses offer special deals for golfers willing to be spontaneous and shoot up for a weekend trip. Follow your favorite golf resorts online through social media, and be ready to head to the mountains in early May or late September. You’ll be welcomed to pristine, empty golf courses at reduced prices, extending your mountain weekends to the envy of your fellow Front Range golfing buddies.
Once you get to the course, make sure you plan out logistics well ahead of time. Are you an intellectual group? Take advantage of the golf pros and consider a quick lesson before you tee off for the first time. A reminder of form, etiquette, and strategy goes a long way at the beginning of the season. Most golf courses offer group lessons so you can keep your foursome on the green and enhance your day with some tips from the course golf pro. If you would rather focus on streamlining your getaway from the get-go, then book a hotel and golf course package, like at the Rollingstone Ranch Golf Course, which is operated by the Sheraton Steamboat Resort. Nothing like taking care of lodging and tee times all at once to ensure smooth travel planning. Further, make sure you have a crew that can commit to early tee times to take advantage of the clear blue sky and sunshine. Particularly in late summer, it’s common for afternoon storms to roll in out of nowhere. If you get caught in inclement weather, you’ve had a strong morning - and if you don’t, all the better!
Finally, make sure to spend your evenings soaking up local color and experiencing Western heritage. The mountains are rife with music festivals, rodeos, new craft beer breweries and farm-to-table restaurants (and in the mountains, that means the farm and restaurant are only 20 miles apart). These types of opportunities don’t exist in the front range or the sweeping golf resorts of the American South. Whether you hit a dive bar to meet locals or attend an orchestra concert in one of the mountain’s music festivals, one of the strengths of playing golf in the mountains is taking time to see the sights. Consider your mountain golf getaway planned! And if you’ve already booked Myrtle Beach, call a mulligan. After all, the balls go farther up here.