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Attitude at Altitude

It’s better to be in America and have a choice in the matter.

Take Leadville’s Mountain Massive Golf Course, for instance.

About the only thing high about Mount Massive is the elevation. At 10,200 feet above sea level, it’s the high golf course in North America. To play higher, you have to go to South America where you’ll find marketing materials featuring caballeros playing golf in the tundra.



“We have grass. No citrus trees, though,” wisecracked Craig Stuller, Mountain Massive Golf Course superintendent.

There’s a certain altitude attitude in places like Lake County, where they don’t understand all the whining from downstream golfers whose home courses don’t open at the crack of dawn on Groundhog Day. Mount Massive is run by members and a local board of directors, so the course opens whenever they’re ready to play, which is usually about the crack of dawn on Groundhog Day.



“We can’t keep people off the course, so we had to open,” said Stuller.

Mount Massive is a quiet place without any of the pretense you find in places where Golf is spelled with a capital “G,” and nobody listens to reason because they have magnolia flowers stuck in their ears. And because it’s a municipal course, it’s not surrounded by zillion dollar condos.

“You not playing condo canyon golf,” said Stuller. “We’re out in the Arkansas River Valley. We don’t require carts, and we encourage you to walk. It’s truly a walk in a woods.”

Stuller said you’ll get about 10 to 20 yards more distance on your shots. Because the ball doesn’t rotate as fast, it slices and hooks less than it does at lower altitudes. It also takes about 10 to 15 percent fewer beers to get to the same place, which is one reason they only sell 3.2 brew.

“People coming from sea level love it up here,” said Stuller. “It seems like a mile high is where the break off is for the effects of altitude. That’s where the deer turn into elk. We have nothing but elk up here.”

Built in the 1930s, Mount Massive was one of the first courses west of the Mississippi, and one of the first 100 in the country. It was carved out of the landscape by miners.

“We’re not sure whose idea this was, but if you live at 10,000 feet and spend your days underground, building a golf course probably seemed like a great idea,” said Stuller.

Nine holes at Mount Massive will set you back 18 bucks; 18 holes are 28 bucks. Carts are optional. Stuller encourages people to walk. It’s not that far and you’re in no major hurry. Mount Massive membership for Lake County residents $195, which is a pretty good reason to move to the High Country. But before you start packing the truck, even if you don’t live in Lake County membership is only $300 for unlimited golf with all the privileges you can imagine – as long as your imagination runs to stuff like unlimited golf.

“They have great courses in other places, but only because they steal our ideas,” Stuller said.


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