The Aspen Golf Club: An Unmatched Municipal Course |

The Aspen Golf Club: An Unmatched Municipal Course

by Carolyn Sackariason
Aspen Golf Club 39551 Highway 82, Aspen, 970-429-1949 Type: 18 holes, par 71 Dress code: Collared shirts, no metal spikes Tee boxes: Gold, 7,136 yards; blue, 6,432; white, 5,579; red, 5,222 Practice: Driving range, chipping area, practice bunker Directions: Two miles west of downtown Aspen on Highway 82   Ironbridge Golf Club 430 Ironbridge Drive, Glenwood Springs, 970-384-0630 The course has stunning views of Mount Sopris from pristine perspectives. The 18-hole alpine course was originally designed by Arthur Hills and refined by Tom Lehman. The more recent improvements are the removal of 34 bunkers to make play easier for the general public. But watch out for the back nine; it’s still very challenging with gorgeous canyon landscapes. Type: 18 holes, par 72 Dress code: Collared shirt, no denim, soft spike shoes Tee boxes: Expert double black diamond, 7,105 yards; double black diamond, 6,724; single black diamond, 6,232; blue, 5,507; green, 4,944. Practice: Driving range, short game area and putting green. Directions: From Aspen, head west on Highway 82 for 33 miles. Turn left on County Road 154 and travel for just over a mile. Then turn left onto County Road 109 for 0.8 miles and then turn left on Ironbridge Drive.   Glenwood Springs Golf Club 193 Sunny Acres Road, Glenwood Springs, 970-945-7086 Located above town on the north side of the interstate, the course opened in 1953 and has welcomed all levels of players. There are plenty of stunning views of the Roaring Fork Valley from every hole. The course, designed by Henry B. Hughes who worked at Denver’s fame Cherry Hills in the 1930s and ’40s, has great history. Type: 9 holes, par 35 Dress code: Collared shirt, no spikes. Tee boxes: Blue/white, 5,812 yards; red, 5,352 Practice: Warm-up area, chipping area and putting green. Directions: From Aspen take Highway 82 north for 45 miles. Turn left onto Sixth Street for 1.6 miles, then turn slightly right onto Donegan for four-tenths of a mile. Turn right onto Sunny Acres Road. The golf course is on the left.   The Ranch at Roaring Fork 14913 Highway 82, Carbondale, 970-963-4410 This is a par-3, nine-hole executive course located in the midvalley. It’s a good alternative to the big courses if a player is looking to squeeze in a round in just over an hour. The course has open fairways, some water features and is well-maintained. You don’t need to carry a lot of clubs as the longest hole tops out at 174 yards. Type: 9 holes, par 27 Dress code: Soft spikes, smooth-soled shoes Tee boxes: White, 1,108 yards; red, 1,018 Practice: Putting green Directions: Off Highway 82 between mile markers 14 and 15.   River Valley Ranch 303 River Valley Ranch Drive, Carbondale, 970-963-3625 Designed by Jay Moorish, this gently sloping, open course on the banks of the Crystal River was cut from farmland and offers spectacular view of Mount Sopris. The course has a number of unique, challenging holes, including eight that feature water hazards. Play is typically uncrowded and the course is walkable. Type: 18 holes, par 72 Dress code: No denim, collared shirt and spikeless shoes are required. Tee boxes: Black, 7,348 yards; blue, 6,600; white, 5,964; red, 5,168 Directions: Turn on Highway 133 off Highway 82 in Carbondale. After 2 miles, turn right on River Valley Ranch Drive and a quarter-mile to the clubhouse on the right. Snowmass Club 0239 Snowmass Club Circle, Snowmass Village, 970-923-5700 Redesigned in 2003, this semi-private course features an undulating landscape with seven types of grasses. The mélange creates a unique setting characterized as an “Irish links course with mountain flair.” There are plenty of tests on the track, including a par-3 that stretches 279 yards from the back tee and a few reachable, downhill par-4s with a little water for a test near the green. Type: 18 holes, par 72 Dress code: No jeans, collared shirt, no metal spikes Tee boxes: Black, 7,008 yards; blue, 6,559; white, 6,126; gold, 5,471; green, 4,736 Practice: Driving range, chipping green and putting green. Directions: From Aspen, take Highway 82 to Brush Creek Road, then go 2 miles to Highline Road. Turn left on Highline and take first right to the club.   Other courses that are private: Aspen Glen Club 0545 Bald Eagle Way, Carbondale, 970-704-1905   Maroon Creek Club 10 Club Circle Road, Aspen, 970-920-1533   Roaring Fork Club 100 Arbaney Ranch Road, Basalt, 970-927-9100 Redesigned in 2003, the semi-private Snowmass Club course features an undulating landscape with seven types of grasses. The mélange creates a unique setting characterized as an “Irish links

It’s nothing but the best when it comes to Aspen’s recreational amenities. After all, it’s how we maintain our world-class reputation. And that carries over to the resort community’s municipal golf course, which has been ranked one of the best in the nation.

Located just west of the roundabout, the Aspen Golf Club is only 2 miles from downtown. It’s open to the public and has fairly reasonable green fees, even though they may cause some sticker shock at the height of the season.

But when one considers the impeccable course maintenance, the 360-degree views with Pyramid Peak nearly always in sight and new GPS golf carts, most say it’s worth it.

“It’s a municipal course but it’s maintained as good as the privates in the state of Colorado,” said Steve Aitken, director of golf. “It’s unmatched and is regarded as a gem.”

There’s also a full-service restaurant, the Red Mountain Grill, which is a favorite among locals for its consistent quality food and prices.

The club has highly skilled PGA staff for private instruction and clinics, along with a state-of-the-art golf academy and practice area.

The course is relatively flat and easily walkable, although it is one of the longest municipal golf courses in the state. From the back tees, the course measures just over 7,100 yards. There are four sets of tees, which can accommodate all types of players.

The track used to be a cow pasture, but architect Frank Hummel made it into a parkland-style course in 1978. It has undulating greens with water coming into play on many holes.

The greens are just as challenging — if not more — as the hazards. They are head-scratchers, to say the least. But here’s a tip: They will always fall toward the valley. Once a golfer has mastered reading the Aspen Golf Club’s greens, numbers will fall off the scorecard.

Nowhere was it more challenging to putt than on hole No. 2. The contours were so severe it was difficult to carry out a successful read.

“If you were on in two, you could be walking off with a bogey,” Aitken said.

That’s why the club, along with architect and consultant Rick Phelps, rebuilt it with a new design that still has slope, contours and character. It also comes with two new bunkers.

“We are extremely happy with it,” he said. “In fact, all our greens came out of the winter in good condition.”

The club has been a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary since 1999, which was one of the first designations in the state.

Also new this year are drone flyover videos of each hole and an overview of the course. Check it out here: