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Copper Creek warms to summer

Chris Freud

COPPER MOUNTAIN – It’s high season in the High Country for golfers, but that doesn’t mean golfing has to take a high cost on your wallet.

Copper Creek, the country’s highest 18-hole championship course at 9,600 feet, is ready for golfers of all abilities. And at $79 for greens fees – and $55 after 3 p.m. – Copper is the most affordable golf course in Summit County.

“Copper Creek has become a community golf course with lots of leagues, lots of corporate outings,” Copper Creek pro Ken Bielski said. “It’s because it’s just a little more accessible. It’s got a down-home membership feel, even though it’s a resort golf course.”

From the very start at No. 1, an uphill par-4, 349-yarder, Copper shows two of its most distinctive characteristics – elevation changes and Pete Dye. Hole Nos. 1,2, 8, 9, 10, 14 and 18 all will remind you that you’re golfing in the High Country.

“What’s amazing, if you think about it, is that four or five of the holes you’ll play were ski slopes just two months ago,” Bielski said. “Two months later, they’re in great shape for golf.”

After a fun downhill, par-4 on No. 2, the course works its way out toward I-70.

“It’s kind of misleading in the sense from what everybody sees from the road. Those are just four or five open holes,” Bielski said. “Those holes don’t look like they’re anything special when, in fact, there’s three holes in there that are really tough to play.”

That stretch would include a long par-4 – 441 yards – on No. 4 and the par-5, sixth, which features a lot of water, especially off the tee.

“I think that, typically in Pete Dye fashion, it’s a golf course which, first of all, doesn’t have a lot of visuals to line up to,” Bielski said. “The two sides are very different. It’s a golf course, because it’s so tight and so narrow, it makes you steer the ball inherently. You need to hit it so that you can get to your wedge distance and take advantage of what are birdie holes, but are intimidating because of how narrow they look from the tee.”

The front nine ends with another elevated tee-shot on nine, a prelude to the type of mountain golf upcoming on the back.

“Holes 11 and 13 are ample par-5’s and they’re both very tight,” Bielski said. “With the right tee shot, even from the back tees, they can be reached in two. But you have to be a heck of a player to take the chance because of how narrow they look and the treacherous greens.”

Other highlights on the back nine include a really fun tee shot on the par-4, 14th – 332 yards. The elevated tee boxes are nestled up in the forest. The green is reachable for the longer hitters but the green is well-guarded by some intimidating bunkers.

Be careful on the par-3’s on the back. They seem short and innocent enough, but beware the wind, which can turn an birdie opportunity into a big number. Copper Creek ends with a bang on the par-4, 415-yard 18th.

“I think the 18th hole, which is a hole that drops some 50 to 75 feet and is over 400 yards, is our signature hole,” Bielski said. “It’s got a real chute and then a three-tiered Pete Dye green. It’s just a gorgeous hole.”

The 19th hole is also pretty nice. Walk off the 18th green and into J.J.’s Bar and Restaurant for any combination of a cold beverage, appetizer and/or meal. It’s just one of the amenities available at Copper Creek including lesson programs, a pro shop and a practice facility.

For more information on Copper Creek, call (970) 968-2339.


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