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Golfing in God’s Country

You’re also a little distracted because the scenery is like something out of a National Geographic travel film. And the water hazards are filled with trout, which makes it easy for you to let other folks play through while you wet a fishing line.

And the daytime temperature hovers right around 72 degrees with no trace of humidity.

Golfing at altitude.



Life is hard – at least you hear it might be for some folks, because it obviously isn’t for you.

“The general feeling is that shots will fly 10 to 15 percent farther up here, but for high handicappers, (the altitude) won’t affect them drastically,” said Chris Woolery, head golf professional at Gypsum’s Cotton Ranch Club. “Generally speaking, it won’t be significant enough to affect their distance. Hitting it farther up here really comes down to a player’s skill level, swing speed and keeping the ball in the air.”



Only the longest-hitting professionals will notice a significant difference in their ball flight while playing at altitude.

“Take Tiger Woods, for instance. He will hit the ball much farther at altitude than someone like Justin Leonard because he has a much higher swing speed,” said Woolery. “It all comes down to clubhead speed. Tiger will have a bigger benefit playing at altitude.”

Regular mortals will occasionally crank one that makes them feel like a pro, but unless you’re dealing with the number of libations you buy from the wonderful kid driving the beverage cart, or the amount of sunscreen you need to wear, altitude probably won’t make much difference to you.

“Every now and then, you’ll catch that good one,” Woolery said. “But unless you have the ability to generate a lot of clubhead speed and keep the ball in the air, it won’t make a lot of difference.”

Four ski mountains made Eagle County one of the world’s premier skiing destinations. Golf courses are doing the same thing for the area at the opposite end of the seasonal spectrum.

A handful of golf’s greatest course designers have carved their work through the mountains and valleys of the county. Masters like Tom Fazio, Pete Dye, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Greg Norman and Tom Weiskopf have created 18-hole gems here.

Cordillera is one of the nation’s most elegant and exclusive golf communities with three courses, and plans for more. Vail Resorts has gotten more into the golf game with Red Sky Ranch in Wolcott.

The majority of golf courses throughout Eagle County are semi-private or resort layouts. But with Eagle-Vail Golf Club and Vail Golf Club joined by Eagle Ranch in Eagle, golfers battling for tee times have signed something of a pact of non-aggression.

If getting a tee time on one of the county’s courses is the first step, honing the necessary skills to play well is the second. In your entire day, the chances are good that the only level surface you’ll stand on all day is in the clubhouse bar after your round. Pop a cold one, laugh a little and be thankful you’re not former Detroit Lion defensive tackle Alex Karras. He once his a ball off the first tee and through the plate glass window in the clubhouse.

Karras poked his head in the door and asked, “Hey, is this room out of bounds?”


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