Area golf courses taking advantage of weather with early openings | AspenTimes.com

Area golf courses taking advantage of weather with early openings

The pesky rodents, called voles or occasionally field mice, can often do a number on a golf course when they burrow into them for the winter months. But for whatever reason, possibly an unseasonably warm finish to winter, their impact at Aspen Golf Club has been minimal, one of the factors that has led to an early opening at Aspen's only true public course.

"The golf course probably had the best winter it's had in a very long time," said Jim Pratt, the club's head golf professional. "A lot of times we have what we call vole damage, which are those burrowing animals where you see the grass torn up. There is hardly any this year, so it's awesome to see the golf course come out so healthy."

The Aspen Golf Club opened for business on Saturday. Pratt said it's possibly the second earliest spring opening for the course in about 25 years.

While the course is open for play, it's still limited. The Aspen Golf Club has a brand new fleet of golf carts with GPS capabilities ready to go, although they won't be allowed on course until "we know it's not going to snow anymore."

Until then, golfers must walk the course.

The course, which includes the driving range, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Green fees currently are $29 for nine or 18 holes, a price that will see a steep increase once the club is fully operational for the season.

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The club's simulator, new this winter, is closed, but will be re-opened if weather forces the staff to close the course.

Pratt urges golfers to purchase their season pass before this weekend. Friday is the final day to receive the early-bird rates. New this season are a local's family pass ($899 before Saturday) and a local's twilight pass ($499 before Saturday), both of which already are hot sellers.

"We've seen a very strong opening sale for our two new passes," Pratt said.

A full season gold golf pass, which includes unlimited golf and no time or date restrictions, costs $1,375 if purchased no later than Friday.

For more information and to purchase passes online, go to http://www.aspengolf.com.

The Aspen Golf Club isn't the only option in the valley, either. Both the River Valley Ranch Golf Club and nine-hole course at The Ranch at Roaring Fork Club, both located near Carbondale, recently opened for the season. The nine-hole course doesn't require tee times and costs $18 per round, while River Valley Ranch boasts a full 18 holes with early-season green fees costing $49.

The semi-private Ironbridge Golf Club, located just outside Glenwood Springs, will start taking tee times on Saturday. Also semi-private, the Snowmass Golf Club typically doesn't open until later in the summer.

The Roaring Fork Valley also includes a few private courses, such as the Aspen Glen Club, Maroon Creek Club and the Roaring Fork Club.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

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