Breckenridge Golf Club: A Risky situation
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE – My ball rested on a mound to the right side of the fairway. It was only about 235 yards from the green, but with a grove of Aspen, beaver ponds and a bunker between me and the hole, let’s just say it was a little more daunting than the yardage may have suggested.
Basically, if my 2-iron – into a gusting wind from an uphill lie in some sparse rough – was to miss the green on any side, it was at best a bogey and probably much worse.
If I could pull if off? Well, I’d be looking at a putt for eagle.
This was the eighth hole on Breckenridge Golf Club’s “Beaver” nine, a target-shot par-5 that has just about everything a golf hole could possibly have: The fairway’s dissected by a river; marsh land runs up the entire right side and breaks off the second stretch of short grass about 70 yards short of the green. There’s a fairway bunker and one up next to the green. Trees dot the rough off the side of the narrow fairway, and the gradual undulations of the ground make it impossible to have a flat lie.
On every shot, a player is faced with a true risk-reward decision. Do you lay-up off the tee? Do you lay-up on the second shot? Do you throw caution to the wind, go all-out on both shots and risk ruining your entire round?
And this single hole – especially its incredible aesthetic appeal – truly epitomizes the Breck public track.
The course – located off Tiger Road just outside of town – has 27 holes designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus. (It’s actually said to be Nicklaus’ only 27-hole public course he’s ever done. That may sound random, but when you consider the number of courses the Golden Bear has designed, that makes Breck pretty unique.)
The three nines – Bear, Elk and Beaver – all come out to essentially the same rating and slope, but more importantly, each gives a player a true mountain golf experience.
Severe yet manageable elevation changes are prominent throughout the course.
For an example, look at the seventh hole on the “Elk” nine. At 435 yards from the tips, the hole, at least on paper, appears to be nothing more than an average par-4. Stand on the tee, though, and it looks like the fairway rolls down a cliff. The green is cut off from the fairway by some marsh, and an enormous pine sits right at the bottom of the slope. Find a way to hit the fairway, and you have a nice short-iron approach. Miss the fairway, and you’re dead.
That’s the way it goes on a lot of holes at Breck: Birdies abound if you’re in the short grass all day, but if you’re playing army golf, you’re going to be scrambling to not make big numbers.
In true Nicklaus fashion, each hole sets up with not only a gorgeous view of the area – many times directed toward the Tenmile Range – but also with a treacherous green. I’ve heard people describe the bumps and mounds of a Nicklaus green as having an elephant buried in them. At Breck, it’s probably more like a moose, but the greens (which are already running pretty darn good) can be tricky if it’s your first time on them.
It was for me.
After actually pulling off that previously mentioned approach, I proceeded to three jack it for a par.
Disappointing, but that’s the way it goes, especially at Breck, where danger can lurk on almost any shot.
But, when the scorecard’s getting scratched up, at least Mr. Nicklaus gave everyone playing a view good enough to make you forget about every bogey.
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