Colorado, Rocky Mountain High. My dad used to play the classic John Denver song every year when we went to this great state for a week of summer vacation. I’ve long been fascinated with all there is to see and do in Colorado. I relish every chance I get to go back. Whether it’s backpacking and camping, skiing, or playing golf, it never seems like I have enough time here.
One of our writers has also spent a lot of time in Colorado playing golf. Together, we came up with our list of the ten best public courses below. Trust me, it wasn’t easy. Give it a read and let us know what you think.
Pole Creek Golf Club
The only 27-hole facility in all of Grand County is Pole Creek Golf Club. Located in the mountain town of Tabernash within ear shot of the Continental Divide, this is golf at elevation – 8,812 feet of elevation to be exact.
All three nines are worth the price of admission at Pole Creek. The course meanders through verdant green meadows that are teeming with wildflowers at the right time of year. Dramatic mountain vistas make it difficult to keep focused on the task at hand.
Even though the playing season is quite short at this elevation, Pole Creek is always in great shape and I get excited every time I come back.
If you’re a fan of mountain golf, don’t miss out on Pole Creek.
River Valley Ranch Golf Club
River Valley Ranch Golf Club is located in the town of Carbondale. Anxious for some breathtaking mountain views? You’ve come to the right place.
Situated in the heart of the Crystal River Valley, this track was designed by Colorado native, Jay Morrish. The course sits on 150 acres of what was once part of the historic Thompson Family Ranch.
When you aren’t busy staring at the 12,996-foot Mt. Sopris, don’t be surprised if you find elk crossing the fairways on their way to feed.
Concerning golf, dramatic elevation changes and large, firm greens present a challenge for players of all skill levels.
When you’re done with your round, be sure to sit back and relax on the Homestead patio with a cold beverage to take in the awe-inspiring mountain views.
Four Mile Ranch Golf Club
Canon City is located in South-Central Colorado and is home to the iconic Four Mile Ranch Golf Club. Warm summer days and cool summer nights make for perfect golf conditions at this track.
Featuring some of the most unique greens in all of Colorado, you’ll find this experience unlike any other.
The course is a friendly, yet fair test for golfers of all abilities. If you get it going, you can make some birdies out here.
If you’re planning a trip, Four Mile Ranch makes for a fun warmup round. And you can’t beat the value.
Struggling with your game? Head PGA Professional, Jeff Perkins, is one of the best teachers around.
Grand Elk Golf Club
Designed by 13-time PGA Tour winner, Craig Stadler, Grand Elk Golf Club is set amongst lush meadows at wetlands that form the head of the Colorado River.
The course sits on 520 sprawling acres just 90 minutes from Denver.
The heathland, Scottish-style design gives this track a links feel that affords you plenty of shot options both into and around the greens.
At an elevation of 7,295 feet, the golf ball goes a long way here. Before your round, be sure to hit some balls and dial in your yardages. Oh, try not to get too distracted by the vistas of the Continental Divide and Rocky Mountain National Park too.
Truly one of the most beautiful courses in all of Colorado, I’m a big fan of Grand Elk Golf Club.
Granby Ranch Golf Course
By now you’ve probably noticed that the ball goes a long way in Colorado. That’s once again the case at Granby Ranch Golf Course which sits at an elevation of 8,100 feet.
This public facility is mountain golf at its finest. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and Fraser River, the views and wildlife found here are flat out spectacular.
The front nine sits in the valley floor and holes meander through native grasses and wetlands. Fun really begins on the back nine where elevation changes and rolling fairways make for some shots you won’t face anywhere else.
Five sets of tees make Granby Ranch playable for just about anybody.
Redlands Mesa Golf Course
One of my favorite places in all of Colorado is Grand Junction. Located close to the Utah border, the country here is high desert. Sure, you still have views of the infamous Colorado mountains but, the weather tends to be more dry and temperate.
The city is also home to the spectacular Redlands Mesa Golf Course. Here, holes meander through arroyos and box canyons. Elevated tee shots and intricate green complexes demand both precision and creativity.
Even though the golf course is part of a larger residential community, you never feel closed in by houses.
Truly a must play if you’re in Western Colorado.
The Ridge Course at Castle Pines
Just a short drive south of Denver is the Ridge Course at Castle Pines. This Tom Weiskopf design has ample room off the tee and large, undulating greens.
Recognized by major publications as one of the best courses in Colorado, it’s not hard to see why the track is so popular.
The fairways are lined by Ponderosa Pines and Gambel Oaks so don’t venture too far offline or you might not come back.
The putting surfaces are some of the most immaculate in the state.
Even though the Ridge Course is a little on the spendy side, it’s well worth playing.
Riverdale Dunes Golf Course
Designed by Pete and Perry Dye, Riverdale Dunes is quintessential Scottish Links golf. Situated along the banks of the South Platte River in the town of Brighton, this track is an unbeatable value.
Off the tee, the fairways are generous. However, you’d best pay close attention on your approach shots into the greens as water hazards and Dye trademark railroad ties are waiting to send errant shots to a watery grave.
If you have time for just one round in the Brighton area, Riverdale Dunes is your best bet.
Rolling Stone Ranch Golf Club
If you’ve never been to Steamboat Springs, I highly recommend you make the trip. There is so much to see and do, it will blow your mind.
Rolling Stone Ranch Golf Club is always a favorite for me. Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, the course offers stunning views of the Yampa Valley, Flat Top Mountains, and the freestone Fish Creek meanders its way through the course.
Narrow fairways and undulating greens make this a shot maker’s course. If you choose to tip it out, you’d better be on your game. The course’s rating from the back tees is among the highest in the state.
Even though the playing season is short, this course is well worth the trip.
Red Hawk Ridge Golf Course
Red Hawk Ridge is one of the best public golf courses in the Castle Rock area, hands down.
Dramatic views of the valley below, and abundant wildlife make playing this track seem more like a peaceful walk in the park than a stressful round of golf.
Even though the course isn’t overly long, it’s undulating fairways and greens make some interesting lies.
Stay below the hole on these slick greens and you’ll do just fine.
There’s something for everyone when it comes to golf in Colorado. Whether you want to play mountain golf where the air is clean and the ball flies forever or, you prefer courses carved out of natural desert plateau, there’s no shortage of options to choose from.
As we stated in the opening, Colorado is a state with so much more than meets the eye. The diversity in landscape and people make it truly a special place.
If you’re thinking about making a trip to Colorado, I highly recommend you pull the trigger. When you do, let us know about your experience in the comments below. Once you’ve been, I’m sure you’ll want to go back.