Tee Time: The highest tee box in North America | SummitDaily.com

Tee Time: The highest tee box in North America

Copper Creek Golf Course

What: An 18-hole Par 69 course at the base of Copper Mountain, featuring high-alpine fairways and the highest tee box in North America

Where: Copper Mountain

Green fees: $27-$74 for peak and mid-week play; $27-$61 for off-peak play

Phone: 970-968-3333

Season passes are currently $419 for unlimited play, and four-pack passes are $179. For reservations, course cards and lesson info, see the course website at http://www.coppercolorado.com.

Summit County is home to more than a dozen of the unofficial "highest (blank) in America," from Imperial Express Superchair at Breck to the Dillon Yacht Club on the shores of Dillon Reservoir.

But none are quite as intriguing as Copper Creek Golf Course's Hole 14, known for the highest tee box in North America at 9,863 feet. It even has the sign to prove it, and players from across the world come just to check it off their bucket lists.

"I love Copper because the people are great, the golfers who come here are down to earth — everything just falls into place here," says Tim Spring, the Copper Creek PGA pro. "It's just a nice, comfortable, easy-going mountain golf course."

And it shows. Designed by Perry and Pete Dye, the Par 69 course has long been a local's favorite, thanks in large part to the laid-back atmosphere Spring finds so appealing. He's an industry veteran, with a resume that spans more than three decades and includes stints alongside Jack Nicklaus in Naples, Florida, and 25 years as golf director at Mink Meadows Golf Club in Martha's Vineyard.

But Copper Creek is Spring's home now, and he knows every fairway and green like the back of his hand. He weighs in on the course's signature hole.

Hole 14

Par 4 — 249 yards (white tees), 332 yards (gold tees)

Naturally, the highest tee box in this hemisphere also features a daunting vertical drop: the green is roughly 100 feet below the white tees. Luckily, it's a straight shot, but when paired with regular wind gusts from the west, a poor drive can easily lead to a bogey — or worse.

"It's a dramatic drop from that high tee box," Spring said. "Even though it's relatively short, it's still a challenging hole.

Elevation aside, the hole highlights everything local golfers love about the course, beginning with stunning views of the Tenmile Range and just about everything else for miles around, including the occasional bear. The course sits at the base of Copper Mountain and more than a thousand acres of forest, making it a haven for wildlife sightings.

Hazards: A massive bunker buttresses the entire right side of the green. If your ball lands in the trap, be ready to dig. Chances are it will be buried deep.

Pro tip: Skirt the bunker issue, and drive straight for the green. It's nearly 300 yards, but Spring says the 100-foot drop makes it more than manageable for big hitters. Otherwise, play it safe to the left-hand fairway for an easy pitch onto the green.