Locals take to links in summer months | AspenTimes.com

Locals take to links in summer months

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times
Organizers of today's fundraiser for the Aspen Hope Center, to be held at Aspen Golf Club, must pay $10,000 to the city to have exclusive use of the course.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Between fishing, biking, hiking, camping and climbing, there’s plenty to do during summers in the Roaring Fork Valley. It’s almost as if there’s so much to do that you’re best served picking one or two and committing to those. That way you make the most of your time and money.

One popular summer pastime in the valley is golf. For many, it’s the summer equivalent of skiing, and for a working local, the $800 silver season pass at the Aspen Golf and Tennis Club is one of the better deals in the area. Not to mention the handful of golf courses that stretch along Highway 82 toward Glenwood Springs.

“You never know here if you’re going to get six months of golf weather or three,” Scott McBride, who purchased his first silver pass this summer, said Friday. “We’ve played into November before, just like you ski all the way into June sometimes.”

Though the start of the season has been a wet one, McBride said the pass is a good value if you can get out at least once a week. It doesn’t hurt that the atmosphere is local-friendly and laid back. This time of year, before the second- and third-home owners, vacationers and wedding parties start filling up the tee sheet, it’s almost all locals on the course.

Along with junior golf, men’s club, ladies’ club and a senior group that’s gaining momentum, the course enjoys a number of weekly social groups. One notable club is the F.A.G.S., which stands for Friday Afternoon Golf Society, a group of locals that has been playing together for at least 15 years. Aspen High School graduates Gary LaCouter and Terry Conner are among its stalwart members. Another regular game is the Stick Golf Group, a collection of older local residents including Dave Stapleton Sr., who graduated from Aspen High in the 1950s.

McBride, who used to work at the neighboring Maroon Creek Club, has also played there, at the Snowmass Club and Ironbridge in Glenwood Springs. Right now, his handicap is somewhere between a 12 and 15, but he’s hoping to get down to single digits by season’s end.

Jim Pratt, who was named head club professional earlier this year, said the course usually sees a lull around the Food & Wine Classic. Then it’s full-on high season, when play is restricted in the middle of the day for silver-pass holders. Around that time, things get pretty busy. Pratt said the course is seeing about 150 rounds a day right now, but come high season, it increases to 220. The most he has seen in his six seasons at the pro shop is 286 golfers, just below maximum capacity of about 300.

“Somehow we find the means to keep our pace of play moving pretty well,” Pratt said.

Right now, the course is limited to 16 holes, as the city completes an irrigation project on holes two and three. Pratt said his department is hoping for completion around Friday for a project that will increase efficiency and maximize output for the club’s water pump.

“We said, ‘If we’re going to have to make this pond bigger, we might as well make it look better and affect the golf course in a positive way for play,” Pratt said.

The Aspen Golf Club, the first golf course built in the Roaring Fork Valley, was established in the 1960s as a nine-hole track. It expanded to 18 holes in the 1970s and was remodeled in the 1980s.

herk@aspentimes.com


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