DENVER (CBS4) – CBS4’s Eric Christensen is an avid golfer who carries a 2 handicap. He’s had the opportunity to play some fantastic courses this summer and here are his 5 favorites.
University of New Mexico Championship Golf Course (Albuquerque, NM)
The Land of Enchantment offers up some enticing golf courses (Sandia, Black Mesa, Pinon HIlls, Paa-Ko-Ridge and Twin Warriors) but my favorite might be the Championship course at the UNM. It’s widely considered one of the best university courses in the country and has hosted 3 NCAA championships. It’s a perfect blend of beauty and beast. Lush fairways framed by big trees gives the course a parkland feel but rolling hills and many elevated greens gives this beauty its bite.
Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Nebraska)
Don’t judge Wild Horse on its location. Great golf can be found anywhere. Ever heard of Sand Hills? It’s a private course in Nebraska that is widely considered one of the top 20 courses in the entire world. The two men who were charged with shaping Sand Hills designed Wild Horse. Consider it Sand Hills’ little brother. While not as grand as Sand Hills, it offers many of the same aspects and challenges.
It plays hard and fast, has huge blowout bunkers and of course the Nebraska wind always plays a factor. Some of the bunkers can stretch to 40 or 50 yards long. As unique as it is in its appearance, Wild Horse is extremely playable. Wide fairways account for the wind and give all golfers a fighting chance to navigate this central Nebraska gem. Standing on the tee and seeing the emerald fairways bisecting the golden prairie grasses is a sight to behold. There is something pure about Wild Horse. It ignites my golfing soul. When you consider it costs less than 50 bucks to walk, this course is a must play for any avid golfer.
Columbine Country Club (Littleton)
This private course in Littleton markets itself as a premier family facility and it doesn’t disappoint on that promise. A wonderful tennis facility, a family friendly par 3 course along w/ designs to build a brand new clubhouse gives this club something for everyone. The focal point however is the Championship golf course which one hosted the 1967 PGA Championship. It’s a perfect blend of long holes and short holes and the par 3’s are legit. Strategically placed trees place a premium on precision and the greens are fast and true and the course is walker friendly. You better finish strong at Columbine as 4 of the final 5 holes are all 400 yard plus par 4’s making a strong finish extremely challenging but also rewarding. Maybe the best compliment you can give a course is that it makes you a better player. That’s definitely the case with Columbine. It punishes bad shots and rewards good ones. It’s certainly on par with the other great championship golf courses in the metro area.
Frost Creek Golf Club (Eagle)
Honestly I’d never heard of Frost Creek until a couple weeks ago. It was formally called Adam’s Mountain Country Club. New owners purchased the club in March and now it’s flourishing. Originally with only 32 members, Frost Creek dramatically dropped it’s initiation fee ($20,000, $5,000 annually) and has gained 100 members in the last 60 days making it the fastest growing private club in the nation. The Tom Weiskopf designed course is mountain golf at his best. The front 9 winds thru some high desert terrain and features more elevation change than the back 9. Often times mountain courses become gimmicky with too much elevation change. That’s not the case at Frost Creek. It gives the player a true, fair test of golf. The back 9 drops down in a valley and feature more trees, a creek and several ponds. All the par 5’s are all reachable and offer a chance to make birdies or better and the par 3’s are long and stout and giving the golfer the opportunity to pull off some long iron shots which can be extremely satisfying. The club features member’s cabins, a clay tennis court, a pool, basketball court, fly fishing and you can rent paddle boards or even a jeep for 4 wheelin’. Oh, and the course superintendent came from Augusta National. Seriously, where do I sign up?
Castle Pines Golf Club (Castle Rock)
Whether it’s private courses like Columbine or Frost Creek, I’m always appreciative to get the opportunity to play them but whenever you get THAT invite to play Castle Pines it’s always special. It’s been a while since the PGA tour played The International there but those memories still exist. Whether you’re standing on the number one tee looking more than 100 feet down below to the fairway where John Daly used to let it rip or you stand on the par 3 7th and try your hand at replicating Tiger Woods’ ace, playing where the pros played is always special. The appropriately named course is surprisingly very playable. It’s not extremely hard but it is challenging and offers up many heroic opportunities. The pros loved the place and after playing it, you can see why. It’s just a fun course to play. My only regret after playing it in May, was that I didn’t stop and get a milkshake. Obviously a rookie move. Hopefully next time.
– By Eric Christensen for CBSDenver.com