An elevated experience: Summit County offers numerous courses to test your skill
Tee off at these Summit County golf courses
There is a plethora of outdoor activities in Summit County during the summer. Hiking, biking, trail running, boating — you name it, and Summit County probably has it.
One activity that has gained popularity over the last few years is golf. It can be easy to overlook Summit’s five golf courses with so many other activities spread out across the county, but each offers a unique golfing experience one may not get at a course at a lower elevation.
“The ball goes farther at elevation, and the ball does not have much curve to it,” Vail Resorts golf professional Philip Tobias said. “If you play a little cut or play a little draw, the ball is not going to move as much. Generally, the ball will fly farther and straighter. Whether or not that is straight into the woods or to the fairway is up to the golfer.”
Although a golfer can send the ball a greater distance at high elevation than at sea level, Tobias said it is important for players to get in tune with their clubs before heading onto the course to avoid wild shanks off the course or behind the green.
“Overall, the most important thing to do is to get on the practice range before the round of golf,” Tobias said. “If you hit the ball fairly low, you are probably not going to see a lot change in terms of your distance.”
Keystone Golf offers two distinct 18-hole courses which are both owned and managed by Vail Resorts near Keystone Resort. The Keystone Ranch course offers the most history since it was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. and opened in 1980 on the site of an old Summit County homestead.
The Ranch course is known for its challenging holes and spectacular scenes. Tobias lists hole Nos. 5 and 9 as two of his favorites at the course, with No. 5 having the backdrop of the course’s historic barns.
Opened in May 2000, the Keystone River course is a par-71 course designed by Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry. The Keystone River course offers breathtaking views of the Continental Divide and the Dillon Reservoir.
One of Tobias’ favorite holes is No. 18, which he calls the “grand finale.” The hole is a par-5, but experienced golfers can get to the green in two shots.
After seeing a record number of golfers flock to the area recently, Summit County golf courses are expecting another busy season.
Tobias noted that golf hasn’t seen this much of an increase in popularity since the late 1990s, when Tiger Woods made the sport popular in the U.S.
On the southern end of the county, the Breckenridge Golf Club is located off of Colorado Highway 9 and boasts three distinct courses — the Bear, Beaver and Elk — designed by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus.
“COVID-19 really jump-started golf,” Breckenridge Golf Club director of golf Patrick Clary said. “2021 was a record year for most people in the country, and in 2022 we are probably going to increase from that.”
The Bear was the first to open in 1985 on a plot of land that what was once the site of a mining tent camp. Opening in 1987, the Beaver rolls through the beaver ponds that are scattered across the course while the Elk course is known for its elevation and panoramic views.
“On the Beaver course, hole Nos. 7, 8 and 9 are going to give you all the feels of mountain golf and all the challenge you need,” Clary said.
Located outside of downtown Frisco, Copper Mountain Resort owns and manages Copper Creek Golf Course.
Due to construction, the back nine holes of the Copper Creek Golf Course will be closed for summer 2022. If a guest would like to play 18 holes of golf, they will have to play the front nine twice.
“Copper Creek has incredible views of the Tenmile Range and is a very family-friendly course that is easy to navigate and enjoy for all types of golfers, including beginners and juniors,” Copper Creek Golf Course manager Scott Sundeen said.
“The biggest difference between Copper Creek and other local courses is most noticeably the scale,” Copper Creek Golf Course pro Zach Dobrota said. “Copper Creek is shorter, narrower and has smaller greens. In true (designer Peter) Dye fashion, it requires precision, not power, to score well.”
Heading north, the Raven Golf Course at Three Peaks is located off of Highway 9 in Silverthorne and offers the public 18 holes designed by Tom Lehman, Hurzdan and Fry.
The course, which opened in 2000, is known for its backdrop between Buffalo and Red mountains. The Raven is riddled with towering pines and clear streams, making it a popular Alpine golf course.
The Raven is characterized as a true mountain golf course that will pose a challenge for golfers of all skill levels.
This story previously published in the summer 2022 edition of Explore Breckenridge & Summit County magazine.
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