Ironbridge a bit showy, but not snobbish
When I first started golfing in Aspen 10 years ago, fighting off monotony was always a challenge. A course in Aspen, one in Snowmass, and two nine-hole tracks in Glenwood provided little variation.
Around 1998, after Tiger tagged golf as the new hot sport by winning the Masters by a margin larger than most hackers’ handicaps, courses started popping up all over the place. The proliferation has created a vast array of offerings, each with their own character, for Aspen’s dedicated duffers.
Earlier this week, I played the valley’s newest course: Ironbridge, just west of Glenwood Springs.
Sticking with the variety theme, Ironbridge actually plays like three different courses. The holes on the front nine run near the Roaring Fork River with generous landing areas, large bunkers, and the river as its predominant feature.
At the turn, a nearly five-minute cart ride takes you hundreds of feet up into a canyon, where four holes dip and rise through a craggy ravine.
The final five holes play almost like desert golf with the holes cut out of rocky wasteland.
In Ironbridge, architect Arthur Hills has designed a course that is visually intimidating almost to the point of showing off. Strong elevation changes, ravines, lakes and rivers all frame big, dramatic shots. Several times my playing partner and I scratched our head on the tee without a clue as to where to aim.
The club is still in its infancy, with an accompanying athletic center yet to be constructed. From what’s been built so far, it seems the facility as a whole will be elegant but not outlandish.
“Our goal here is a family club. We are not trying to be a stuffy, private club, not trying to give it a ‘high-roller’ air. We think having such a great golf course will speak for itself,” head professional Matt Benn said.
As a golf course, Ironbridge won’t suit everyone’s tastes. For me, a strong traditionalist, I’d rather face a simple, austere test than a showy, extravagant layout.
But the traditionalist in me also supports the notion of excellence without exclusivity, of country club service without snobbery, which is something Ironbridge is working hard to offer.
Ironbridge reserves a limited number of tee times for the public. Green fees are $125 and tee times can be arranged through the pro shop. Garfield County residents can play for $85. Membership and property opportunities are still available.
Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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In the 1960s The Red Onion as the Aspen Ski Club would host an annual ski fashion preview, which in addition to clothing also included live music and a strip auction.