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Aspen Golf Club can open as soon as snow melts

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

ASPEN – The birds returned to Aspen Golf Club recently, and pretty soon the birdies will, too.

A mid-April opening is planned for the municipal golf course, weather permitting, Director of Golf Steve Aitken said. City workers spent some time late last week getting the motorized carts ready. The sooner the snow melts, the sooner the course can open.

“I just need to recruit a bunch of people out here with shovels and we’ll get this place going,” Aitken joked.

Kidding aside, he said the driving range and practice greens will open before the course itself does, perhaps in the next week to 10 days. Not much preparation is needed to get the 18-hole course into playing shape, given its excellent condition at the end of the 2010 season, Aitken said.

With the economy rebounding, a big year for the city-owned course is expected. Last year, player rounds increased about 7 percent, climbing to 26,448 from 24,751 in 2009. The recorded number of rounds in 2010 is on par with pre-recession tallies of 26,302 rounds in 2007 and 27,312 rounds in 2008.

The only major change in store this year for Aspen Golf Club – consistently rated as one of the top municipal courses in the United States – is the possible establishment of a new teaching operation. The City Council on April 11 is expected to take up the issue of a proposed lease agreement with Carl Rabito of Rabito Golf Schools.

If the lease is approved, the course would be partnering with a nationally recognized golf school, allowing the city to step up its efforts in marketing the club as an attractive destination for golfers from around the country, Aitken said in a memorandum last month to other officials.

“The benefits of this relationship benefit the golf course with increased greens-fee paying rounds, retail sales and restaurant sales,” he wrote. “In addition, local hotels, restaurants and shops can also benefit from the addition of this type of operation.”

The hourly rate for lessons through the Rabito Golf School would likely be in the range of $110 to $125, Aitken said. Season passholders would get a 20 percent discount.

Speaking of season passes, they are slightly more expensive this year, Aitken said. A price of $1,899 has been set for the Platinum Pass, which gives its holders unlimited rounds of golf, use of a golf cart, free range buckets and free access to the nearby tennis courts.

At $1,275, the Gold Pass provides golfers with unlimited rounds but use of a motorized cart costs extra ($18 per person).

The Silver Pass, which costs $730, allows players to golf anytime through June 15 and after Sept. 15. Between June 16 and Sept. 14, restrictions apply, and golfers cannot tee off between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

A special Bronze Spring Pass is available for $299. Passholders can play anytime through June 15. A Fall Spring Pass provides unlimited rounds from Sept. 15 to the course’s usual closure in early November. As is the case with the Gold and Silver passes, carts, range balls and free tennis are not included.

More details about season pass options can be found on the website http://www.aspenrecreation.com.

Greens fees (which include a cart) vary depending on the time of year. The per-person rate is $39 though May 31; $79 from June 1-15; $129 from June 16 to Sept. 30; and $59 from Oct. 1 until the course closes for winter.

The golf course staff includes about 25 people, Aitken said, but some workers are part-time and some are seasonal.

He said Aspen Golf Club will host an American Junior Golf Association tournament June 6-9, attracting some of the top youth players in the nation. On July 10-11 the club will hold its annual fundraiser and tournament benefiting Aspen junior golf programs.

The phone number to reserve tee times has changed. The new number is 429-1949.

asalvail@aspentimes.com


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